Frequently Asked Procurement Questions

This FAQ is for members of our university community who have questions on how to purchase goods and services. Our department strives to provide you with the best possible service. The more you know about the purchasing process, the more efficient we can become and successful in our supplier contracts. For this purpose, we have put together answers to some commonly asked questions and best practice considerations.

PROCUREMENT BASICS

What is Procurement and how does it affect my job?

 

The Procurement department is the center of all purchasing-related business activities. We don’t actually “buy” things or services, as Kent State utilizes a decentralized spending model. However, if your department has a need than we have the solution. If we can’t offer direct assistance, we can point you in the proper course and advise important steps. All goods on campus being used, probably started with us! Or at least because our policy allows it.

We:

  • Help you save money through competitive solicitation and universal contracts
  • Manage supplier contracts & bid development
  • Manage supplier relationships
  • Administer FlashCart, the university’s e-commerce system
  • Help determine best measures for purchasing and sourcing
  • Review, edit and sign vendor credit applications
  • Attest your goods and services are compliant to university policy and state or federal law
What are some key takeaways of the purchasing policy?

Requisitions, and subsequent purchase orders, must be created in FlashCart if a good order (tangible item) is $2,500 or more.

Purchases of goods, using a single vendor or the annual accumulation with said vendor, exceeding $25,000 must be bid.

Requisitions, and subsequent purchase orders, must be created in FlashCart if a service order is over $50,000 or more. Additionally, if the service exceeds $50,000 using a single vendor or the annual accumulation with said vendor, it must also bid.  

Any purchase over $100,000, using a single vendor, will need SVP Finance and Administration as well as Division VP approval.

Any purchase exceeding $1,000,000 through the length of the contract will need Board of Trustees approval.

University-required contracts must be used, no exceptions. These suppliers are listed on the Procurement website by commodity. If the specified vendor(s) in each of these categories does not have your item or service, contact procurement@kent.edu for additional guidance and support.

What do you mean by "sourcing"?

Sourcing, or procurement (the act of procuring), is the process of locating and selecting businesses (suppliers or vendors) based upon set criteria or the commodity that needs purchased.

What is a commodity?

A commodity is the general classification or categorization of a product or service. A commodity code details or describes what was purchased in a common category or group.

We use a modified UNSPSC (the United Nations Standard Products and Services Code) commodity code list to categorize items or services.

Why does Procurement spend extra time soliciting bids when my department has already gotten quotes?

Without considering policy, the competitive bidding process allows all interested vendors an opportunity to participate in quotes. You may be unaware of all eligible vendors including diverse and other disadvantaged vendors; another might offer best value. Not only do we remove any biasness, the contracts that result from such processes are legal binding documents that manage risk. Purchasing off-contract, without permissible cause, weakens the bidding process and lessons the impact as it relates to its benefits to Kent State University.

What is the difference between vendors and suppliers?

Throughout our website, the use of the two terms are used synonymously.

VENDORS: REQUIRED AND PREFERRED

What is the difference between required and preferred suppliers?

Although very similar, required suppliers are necessitated by state or university negotiated agreements. These vendors are on university-wide contracts. Preferred suppliers have been properly vetted and comply with all university policy and state requirements. Many of these suppliers have specific departmental contracts and are required for that particular department. The use of these vendors can be extended to the university community. This saves both time and money to the university. Other suppliers can be used if the good or service cannot be found on these preferred agreements.

How do I know which vendors are required?

On our website, under Contracted Suppliers, you will see the required commodities to which we have established university-wide contracts through bid or consortia under the "required" section. Some are required by the state. Some are required through cross-departmental bid-awarded contracts. We found these commodities are the most sought purchases and were strategically sourced. The vendors within the required commodities are the only contracts that must be used.

Who are preferred vendors and how do I find them?

The preferred vendors are listed by commodity on our website, also in the "Contracted Suppliers" tab. If you need help sourcing, please contact Procurement! You keep us employed and happy!

What if the item I need to purchase is not available from a preferred supplier?

If it is a commodity that may be under contract, please contact Procurement for sourcing suggestions. We still may be able to source through a contracted supplier. Otherwise refer to the flowchart and vendor sourcing attributes.

I found a lower priced item online. Since it is cheaper, am I allowed to purchase?

We understand and acknowledge there will be instances in which this will occur. We also recognize budget limitations. However, the success of these contracts is captured with pricing based on the entire university community. When we can demonstrate aggregation of spend over time, we can then negotiate further cost considerations with these suppliers. Additionally, these contracts are developed with other value-added activities besides cost reduction.

If the price differential is not significant, purchase with the required supplier and forward appropriate information to Procurement. For large price disparities, please contact Procurement for advice or approval. If we cannot resolve with the required supplier, we will work with the departments on alternative sources.

Is it true I must use Aramark for my on-campus catering?

Aramark is the required dining services provider for events exceeding $200 in total spend. However, certain allowances for waivers and exceptions are permitted and outlined on Dining Services website

VENDORS: SELECTION

May I request other suppliers for contract considerations?

Some contracts are required by the state; we may not be able to consider new suppliers in those commodities until a contract has expired and is available to bid. Additionally, if spend with one vendor exceeds policy limitations, Procurement must post its commodity-driven good or service for public bid. Any vendor may respond and will be given equal opportunity. We welcome feedback and offerings toward strategic supplier considerations on all commodities.

My department wishes to order an item that is not covered under an existing University contract. What should I do next?

We have created a decision flowchart to enhance your purchasing journey.

If not required or preferred, what are the attributes I should consider before using a vendor?

Purchasing or servicing with a vendor is not as simple as "lowest cost" or "best overall value". As a steward of university funds, and state funds, there are important considerations to question before placing an order or service request.

  • Have you investigated all diverse vendor options? If not, please see the Supplier Diversity website for information on how to find minority vendors.
  • Have you considered all local, Buy Ohio, or Made-in America options? Please contact Procurement for assistance.
  • Is the vendor a member of a valid consortium agreement or State of Ohio contract? The university may benefit from rebates or pricing discounts, if yes, please contact Procurement for assistance and regulations.
  • Do the good(s)/service(s) to be procured include software, computer hardware, digital content, web-based information or applications, or 3rd party web services (such as marketing, research, monitoring.)? If yes, please review policy 4-16 that promotes equal access to all persons.
  • Is there a personal relationship between a university employee and the referenced vendor? If yes, a Conflict of Interest form must be completed as found on the Procurement website.
  • Will the vendor have access to classified Kent State University data? And/or will the vendor need to share this institutional data with partners to accomplish its mission? If yes, a security risk assessment must be performed prior to purchase or award.
  • Is the vendor in compliance with the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) requirements of Executive Orders 11246 as amended by 11375? If not, you may not use this vendor as subject to the Ohio Revised Code and university policy.
My purchase is under $2500, can I use any vendor I choose?

Kent State has both required and preferred suppliers, as there are certain considerations to vendor selection. Before your purchase, make sure we don't have an established contract through a required commodity. Also, there are special vendor attributes that must be considered before final vendor selection. Factor them in before you chose your vendor. Please note, the total annual spend for the vendor must be under policy regulations; otherwise, it will need to be bid.

Who do I contact with my sourcing questions?

Contact the general Procurement email or phone for direction at procurement@kent.edu or 330-672-2276.

VENDORS: ADMINISTRATION

I need a sales tax exemption certificate.

Procurement is no longer responsible for sales tax exemption certificates. Please contact the Tax Department with your request.

I need a credit application filled out for my vendor.

Send a copy to us; however, first be sure to fill out as much of the application as you can (ex. contact and shipping information). We will review terms, sign and return to you.

A vendor gave me a written agreement to sign. Who can sign this agreement with the vendor?

Send a copy to Procurement; we may suggest submission to General Counsel. However, we will review and advise.

VENDORS: PCARD TRANSACTIONS

My order is above $2500; however, the vendor accepts credit card payment. Can I split the order into two transactions?

It is against university policy to split credit card orders into separate transactions to avoid the use of a purchase order.  All tangible good orders exceeding $2500 must be processed through FlashCart.  Be sure the vendor is in PaymentWorks prior to beginning your requisition.

What can I buy and not buy with my Pcard?

Refer to the University Pcard Manual on best practices and permissible purchases.  The manual is located in the "Policy and Procedures" section of the Accounts Payable Purchasing Card website.

If I can't use my pcard for pizza, how can I order for my event?

Search for your vendor in PaymentWorks. If the vendor is listed in the Suppliers section, the university has paid it directly in the past and the vendor accepts check payment. All vendors (both new and existing) must complete the PaymentWorks onboarding process before they can be paid through Accounts Payable. Information about PaymentWorks can be found on the Accounts Payable website.

ORDERING BASICS

How do I place an order?

If you are purchasing services or supplies from a required or preferred vendor, please use the instructions as indicated on Procurement website. If you're purchasing a commodity that isn't listed on our website, please consider the special attributes as previously noted. Use best practices with your chosen supplier to place your order. Be sure to receive an order acknowledgement from the supplier as confirmation that the order was received and is correct.

What is Flashcart?

Through FlashCart, our university's e-commerce system, you will purchase items electronically through contracted suppliers or create electronic orders. You will use a Hosted Catalog, Punchout Catalog or one of the Forms to begin the formal requisition-based ordering process. it is through FlashCart that purchase orders will be created and distributed upon completion of a requisition.

What is a requisition?

A requisition (sometimes called a “purchase req”) is the first part of the ordering process. A requisition is the document that provides the order details: vendor name, vendor address, shipping/delivery location, contact person, accounting information such as index and fund, item or SKU number, item description, quantity, unit of measure (UOM), and dollar amount per UOM.

What is a purchase order?

After a requisition is entered into FlashCart, it will carry through its approval hierarchy, finalizing the document as a purchase order. When accepted by the seller, it becomes a contract binding on both parties

How do I know if I should create a requisition?

Per University policy, any intended purchase of goods equal to or exceeding $2500, or services equal to or exceeding $50,000 require that a purchase order be issued. To obtain a purchase order, you must first enter a purchase requisition into FlashCart. Requisitions can be entered into FlashCart through the Forms and through the hosted and punch-out catalogs . Once the order is placed, the requisition enters approval workflow and will be made into a purchase order by Procurement and sent electronically to the selected vendor.

Pcard orders under $2500, utilizing the hosted and punch-out catalogs, can also be entered into FlashCart.  However these bypass the approval workflow and transmit directly to the selected vendor.

I’ve never created a requisition before, how do I do it?

Contact Procurement to schedule a training session. We are happy to help! Additionally, there is an instruction manual on our website in the guides section.

I need to change the approval workflow of my requisition, can you help?

ORDER PROCESSING: FLASHCART

I need access to FlashCart. Can you set me up?

All current Kent State employees have access to FlashCart through FlashLine. However, it is the capabilities of ordering with which you might need additional assistance. If you plan on placing orders exceeding $2500 and/or will place orders without the use of pcard, you will also need Banner Finance access. To request access, contact your Departmental Security Administrator.

Once complete, have your authorizing supervisor contact Procurement with organizational information and workflow requirements to get you set up into the system, as well as, schedule a training session.

What are some key takeaways on ordering through FlashCart?

FlashCart is your electronic source for purchasing. It is through FlashCart that you generate purchase requisitions and subsequent purchase orders.

Although FlashCart offers many benefits and features, it is most often used for shopping.

There are three types of shopping in FlashCart: through Punchout Catalogs, Hosted Catalogs and Forms

Notable Forms:

  • A Non-Catalog Form is similar to an electronic purchase request (payment request). Use this form for electronic submission for commodities not purchased through hosted or punch-out catalogs. Instead of wet signatures, through the approval hierarchy, you receive electronic signatures.
    • Do not use if rush or purchase needs special approvals or documents.
  • A Direct Pay/Invoice Attached Form is also similar to an electronic check request (payment request) if the service or good is complete/delivered and you have an invoice. The purchase order from this form will not go to the vendor.
  • A Change Request Form is the form needed when a purchase order needs updated or changed.

A Hosted Catalog is an online version of a supplier’s printed catalog. Hosted catalogs contain product data and details, along with pricing information for each item. When a product search is performed, the products in all of the hosted catalogs are searched. Hosted catalog search results contain product information from all suppliers depending on the search criteria entered by the user.

A Punchout Catalog is an online version of the supplier’s print that allows you to order. You will exit FlashCart to search and select your products within the supplier's customized website. When you check out, you are then returned to your FlashCart cart automatically. The selected items are then submitted through the standard requisition/order process.

In any of these shopping situations, if the order was not paid using a P-card and you have received or will receive an invoice, the invoice must be signed with approval to pay and sent to Accounts Payable for payment processing. It is important to note the purchase order on the invoice to eliminate the risk of duplicate payment.

I just completed my requisition in FlashCart, but I made a mistake and I need to correct it. What do I do?

If your order has not yet completed the approval workflow, please contact Procurement and we can assist you in making your corrections. Every requisitioner has edit capabilities on their own orders, and at any time in the approval, workflow changes can be made before it becomes a purchase order.

I need to change a purchase order that has already been completed and issued. How do I make those changes?

We understand that It is sometimes necessary to make changes to orders after they have been submitted. You may need to make changes to a completed Purchase Order and/or resend this information to the supplier. In FlashCart, the original completed PO is given a Revision number of 0. A new revision is created by resending a PO to a supplier or if changes are marked as a revision. The revision number for a PO is displayed in PO History.

The following changes can be made to a completed PO:

  1. Distribution Options - Fax or email or cXML
    • Remember email distribution cannot be used with P-card orders
  2. Supplier notes and attachments
  3. Ship to and Bill to Addresses
  4. Payment Terms
  5. Changes in Quantity
  6. Adding or Removing line items

NOTE: You cannot change the supplier for a completed purchase order

Indicate in the Change Request Form what changes you require, and make a reference to the PO number that needs to be changed. Once you hit “Place Order” the change order will route through normal approval workflow. When it routes to Purchasing, the Buyer will be able to complete your needed changes directly to the PO in question, and his or her approval of your change order will indicate to you that they changes have been finalized.

Can I complete a requisition if the vendor hasn’t been created yet or the vendor/Banner ID isn’t in FlashCart?
What do I do if the mailing address I need the Purchase Order sent to isn’t listed in Banner, FlashCart or PaymentWorks?
What information is required in the purchase requisition?

The more information that is entered into the requisition, the better. Data drives decision-making and we rely on clean, usable data for analysis.

FlashCart will force certain fields. Standard entry should be the real quantity purchased, a SKU or model number, and an item description. Do NOT use a quote or order number, or “As Attached” in your data entry. Take the time to enter in the purchase. It’ll only help on the receiving side and order verification.

FlashCart makes me pick a commodity. How do I know which one to choose?

Use the code that best describes what you are purchasing, not what you are purchasing for. For example, food should be categorized as “food”, not as “organizations or clubs” because you purchased food for a club.

There are certain nuisances, however. Pens, for example. A pen that is not descript and used during normal office operations is an office supply. A pen, with a Kent State logo or event name, purchased usually in a large quantity as a give-away item, is a promotional supply. A pen that is not descript but isn't intended for office use, may be considered an event management item.

Contact Procurement for further discussion!

Why hasn’t my requisition been approved yet?

Often requisitions are tied up in approvals. To check to whom your requisition is with, log into FlashCart. Search your requisition number in the search box in the top right-hand corner. Your requisition will appear. Look for the “PR approvals” tab; this information will lead you to who needs to approve your requisition.

If you don’t know your requisition number, you can look in “My Carts and orders” under cart icon on the left side of the screen and view your carts. Select the requisition in question and find where the approval needs completed under the “PR approvals” tab of your document.

I placed an order in FlashCart using my P-card. Will the supplier receive my P-card information? Is it secure?

The supplier will receive your card information through our secure system if it is submitted via e-fax. P-card information will not be sent if the order was transmitted through email. If you do not see a charge on your P-card within the next few days, follow up with the supplier or Procurement.

An order acknowledgement is also a good option for verifying the purchase; call your supplier to follow up on receipt if you were not provided one.

ORDER PROCESSING: PURCHASE ORDERS

Okay, I have a purchase order. Now what?

The purchase order will be sent directly to the vendor per the distribution method in that vendor's profile. Your vendor may or may not send an order acknowledgement. It’s usually a good idea to call and request one from your vendor to ensure the order was properly received. From there, you will receive your good or service, followed up with a subsequent invoice. The invoice should be an exact match of the purchase order. If it is not, follow up with Procurement for a change order (if approved). If it matches, the authorized signature person should write “ok to pay”, with a date and PO number, along with their signature on that invoice. Then send the invoice to Accounts Payable for processing. Attach a copy of the purchase order for backup.

Every established vendor in FlashCart has a preferred order transmission method, such as email or e-fax, which is automatically appended to their profile.

Contact Procurement for further discussion!

Where do I send my invoice?

Approved and signed invoices go to “Attn: Accounts Payable at 237 Schwartz”. Do NOT send them to “Payments/Purchasing”.

How will I know that my requisition has been processed into a Purchase Order and sent to the vendor for processing?

The purchase order will be sent directly to the vendor; assuming the vendor has a fax number or email address for order receipt. You can view your purchase orders submission history under the “History” tab of your purchase order. Under this tab, you will find all the activity of the order, including what email address or fax number received your order and if there are any errors in submission.

Be sure to follow up with Procurement on any errors, so we can get them resolved, if needed.

Is it okay to obtain goods and services prior to getting a PO?

University policy states that “Any purchase of goods with a cost of two thousand five hundred dollars or more or services with a cost of fifty thousand dollars or more requires a purchase order.” Purchases that do not meet those thresholds do not require purchase orders.

Purchasers initiating purchase orders after an invoice has been received, should use the “Direct Pay/Invoice Attached” form in Flashcart. This form processes a requisition into a purchase order without submitting the order to the vendor. It is important to note that this form does not initiate payment of the invoice, which must be submitted to Accounts Payable in hard copy, marked “OK to pay”, with a full signature and PO number. In addition, this form should not be used to initiate purchase orders for business meals and entertainment, individual memberships or dues, or gift cards as it will not route to the executive level for approval, which is required for such purchases.

How do I find my list of open Purchase Orders?

To run by index, log into FlashLine. Under Employee – find the Finance Reports (COGNOS). You will see the “Open Encumbrances (PO)” query. This query will list unpaid purchase orders or any remaining balances.

To run by organization, log into Banner. Use the query: “Open Purchase Orders by FOAPAL” or FPIOPOF and run by organization or index.

However, this version is not always correct. Use the Detail Encumbrance Activity or FGIENCD and run by the PO number to verify if a balance is still on the PO or encumbrance.