Streamlining the procurement process to help fullfill their educational mission of excellence.
Lansing School District believes in its mission to provide educational excellence in a safe and nurturing environment for all students. As the public school district in Lansing, Michigan, it serves over 10,000 pre-K through 12th grade students across 25 school buildings. With their wide range of students, age groups, and facilities to support and supply each year, an efficient procurement system is almost as essential to their success as their highly qualified teachers, tremendous support staff, dedicated administrators, and a committed Board of Education.
With Amazon Business for Education, Lansing School District is making a real difference in how they – and districts across the State of Michigan – are doing more to streamline purchasing in education. As the CFO at Lansing School District, Jon Laing knows this firsthand. Old processes forced district staff to spend their energy battling inefficiencies, rather than focusing on the important work of teaching and supporting the school district. Working with Amazon Business to make the procurement process more efficient and effective allowed district staff to put that energy back into their students, where it belongs.
“I’ve been with Lansing School District since 2008 and I’ve been supervising the purchasing department since 2013, so nine years now having some hand in purchasing. Our district is just under 10,000 students right now and we have about 1,200 employees. Twenty-five schools and several departments require a lot of staff that need to do purchasing, especially office supplies or anything else that helps to supply the schools and products that help them to do their jobs. We have an annual budget of approximately $160 million.” With such a large budget, spend controls and visibility were a necessity, creating a perfect opportunity for Amazon Business to help out.
What did procurement look like for you before Amazon Business?
“Prior to our Amazon Business account, we had purchase orders, requisitions, and district purchasing credit cards (P-Cards),” Jon said. “Prior to 2015, if anyone wanted to purchase from Amazon they just used their district P-card. At that time, there was no method of being able to put orders on a business account.” Jon said. “The secretary or principal would put the order on a requisition. Our office would review for the correct funding account and then proceed through an approval process for the PO. Once approved, they would send it off to the vendor for procurement. With these P-cards, it was an immediate purchase online.”
What does it look like now with Amazon Business?
"When it was announced that Amazon was going to start charging sales tax on online orders. Obviously, being a public-school district, we are not supposed to be paying sales tax. That's when we set up our first district-wide Amazon Business account. Purchasers, secretaries, principals, etc. wee set up on the account as tax exempt. We were able to set up the purchasing process to one central P-card.”
“The way the process works now is somebody in our purchasing office gets all those orders, but we also have it flow through our E-Finance system. A requisition and a purchase order is entered into the system and matches it to a specific fund. The user doesn’t have the opportunity to overspend. That happens sometimes when you have a credit card and start spending with no controls.“
“Fast forward now, this year. We just started with Business Prime. In prior years there was an option for free shipping, but schools wanted to get products shipped faster and they were selecting options with shipping costs. Our Account Representative with Amazon Business let us know that we were spending over $4,200 in shipping costs prior to signing up for Business Prime. Now we are seeing a significant savings through Business Prime’s free shipping options.”
“Through our E-Finance system, we have Punchout. An add-on to the e-Finance system where someone can go in and enter a requisition with Amazon immediately from the Amazon Business website. They can go in, submit the order, and it automatically creates the requisition back in E-Finance. It’s truly only one step now instead of two steps. With Amazon Business, it’s finding solutions that make it easier to do that purchasing.”
"Amazon Business let us know that we were spending over $4,200 in shipping costs prior to Business Prime. Now we are seeing a significant savings through Business Prime’s free shipping options.”
— Jon Laing, CFO at Lansing School District
How hard has the transition, this evolution been in terms of the lift?
“The real change has been more on our end, streamlining the process and not having to go through some extra steps to purchase through Amazon,” Jon said.
What has Amazon Business allowed your staff to do now that they can’t with a lot of other vendors?
“With Amazon Business, there’s such a variety of products. It’s not just office supplies. It’s allowed us to place one order, but with a lot more variety of what we need. We had one person this year place a $33,000 order with their budget, but it had different items. We still have to go through our normal PO approval process, like for technology, to make sure they’re compatible or supported by our tech department. Amazon Business makes that process much easier.”
What would you say are the game changers since going to Amazon Business?
“One of the big things is just the ease of ordering through Amazon Business and the process we have set up. We can get the items within one day of the order being placed. With Business Prime, shipping is usually very quick. Being able to set some parameters on what is being ordered is also helpful. Since we have restrictions on some things, we can review them and stop the order if we have to. With the P-cards, we may not know for 30-45 days afterwards and then you’re trying to play clean up and catch up. Some of the savings with Business Prime, and with free shipping, is helping the school and the district save budget.”
With the help of Amazon Business, the Lansing School District was able to streamline their procurement process which has allowed them to focus on their main mission which is to provice a great education for their approximately 10K students. The new, efficient purchasing process for its district staff – with cost savings through Business Prime and spend controls – has empowered this Michigan school district to do more with streamlined purchasing.
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