is using Amazon Business procurement solutions for a certain peace of mind within their district and their ultimate goal, happy teachers and staff.
Seminole County Public Schools (SCPS) is one of the top 15 largest school district in Florida according to the National Center for Education Statistics. With more than 67,000 students and 10,000 employees, SCPS is a leader in education throughout central Florida. With its vision to be the premier school district in the State of Florida and recognized nationally for high standards, academic performance and offering students customized educational pathways 24/7/365, SCPS has the mission to ensure that all students acquire the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to be productive citizens.
With such a large school district, SCPS sought a procurement solution that brought them not only time-saving efficiencies, but a way to monitor compliance with purchasing policies, control their budget, and provide ease of use along with a certain peace of mind within their district. Their ultimate goal, however, was happy teachers and staff.
The State of Florida guarantees that all Florida teachers have the necessary funds available for classroom supplies. SCPS has approximately 7,000 teachers in the district, although, not all teachers participate in purchasing supplies.
“In the past this purchasing was done using P-cards and it was a nightmare to manage,” said Greg Long – Purchasing Manager at SCPS. “Making sure teachers were being compliant with the items they purchased, hanging on to receipts, etc. Amazon Business came in and made the whole process simpler,” he said. “First of all, it’s Amazon. The teachers already know the process. Amazon Business set up the back-end where teachers had their own account and could basically draw-down on their allocated amount. Amazon Business came up with the brilliant system of being able to do that draw-down as they ordered materials. It would also prevent them from ordering if they didn’t have any dollars left. It was a beautiful thing!” Greg said. In terms of compliance and control, SCPS found the Amazon Business solution extremely helpful, ensuring much-needed visibility and controls over spending as well as strict adherence to budget requirements.
“It made it easy on our part, that we didn't have to visit every single one of the items or give the teachers cards as we did in the past. It made it much simpler and it made sense.”
— Greg Long – Purchasing Manager at Seminole County Public Schools
Amazon Business serves as a strategic purchasing partner for many K-12 districts and charter organizations, helping them manage Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding and federal grants, department-wide budget allocations such as Career and Technical Education (CTE), Science-Technology-Engineering-Math (STEM), Special Education (SPED), etc. In many cases, educators lean heavily on the Budget Management tool to earmark budgets, allocate user level allotments, and track and reconcile topline budget through the spending funnel.
In a nutshell, Budget Management gives Amazon Business [for Education] customers the power to actively monitor and manage their budgets with real-time tracking, empowering staff to make informed purchasing decisions without the risk of overspending. It is also giving teachers much needed time back by reducing the manual effort involved in creating and tracking multiple Purchase Orders.
“It made it easy on our part, that we didn't have to visit every single one of the items or give the teachers cards as we did in the past. It made it much simpler and it made sense,” Greg said. "We looked for a solution that would give us the ability to get anything we wanted and to know what the teachers were buying. We needed restrictions on what they could and couldn't purchase - they could put it in their cart, but we could approve or deny it at the purchasing office. The things that weren’t restricted, and they had the dollars to buy.” With Business Prime and the discounted pricing, this is “easily done,” he said.
Amazon Business helped SCPS implement approval workflows on the backend for budget management and allocation, which provided needed visibility and insight to tighten up controls for one-off, more expensive purchases and frequently purchased items. This became a much-needed tool when school activities were forced to move online during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Whether teachers were working in a hybrid model or student-facing in the classroom, they don’t have a lot of time during the day to buy things they need. They spend their time teaching and planning. Amazon Business made it easy because the teachers already knew or were familiar with how to use it. So no real loss for them in hours away from their normal duties,” Greg said. “In many cases, Budget Management has been a powerful tool around teacher retention, and with new teacher recruitment. This is something that they really enjoy. The visibility and the easy plug-in to our storefronts to buy that selection and get it to them 2-3 days later,” said Greg.
Amazon Business pricing was a plus too. “Never underestimate teachers talking to one another. If you have a good price, they’re going to talk a lot about it and a bad price, even more. The nice thing with Amazon is we’ve had really good quotes,” said Greg.
To make things even easier, Amazon Business implemented Single Sign On (SSO) for SCPS. This centralized buyer access to the system and gave users a one-click experience using their existing credentials, thus accelerating program adoption. “Our teachers can sign onto their computers, click on the Amazon tile under their name or account, and they're ready to order,” Greg said. “Year one, we had two full-time people on our team, plus, we brought in another bookkeeper, because the way we had to enter in people's names manually (around 4K). We couldn't do a bulk upload.
“In year two, Amazon Business came in with Bulk Upload. I think it’s brilliant, because we can automatically give you all of our teacher’s information, and as they come on, they sign on and then just fall right into place. I'm just excited about it. Knowing we could control or restrict buying and control the budget through the budgeting tool, I could sleep at night! Now, with SSO it flows very nicely, and t’s seamless!” Greg said.
“With Amazon Business it’s a dynamic solution. Not only for setting up budget management, but also for getting in front of network risk with potential hackers and managing multiple account changes, password changes etc. Alleviating some of the administrative overhead of managing multiple profiles – 67 schools, 7,000 teachers, 60-70,000 students, and a procurement team...It’s a lot of responsibility.”
“I appreciate Amazon Business and all y'all have done for us and look forward to for many years to come," Greg said.
"I'm just excited about it. Knowing we could control or restrict buying and control the budget through the budgeting tool, I could sleep at night! Now, with SSO it flows very nicely, and it’s seamless!”
— Greg Long – Purchasing Manager at Seminole County Public Schools
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