We’re sitting down with procurement professionals in different organizations to hear about how they approach their work, how Bonfire fits into their day-to-day, and the resources and tools that keep them on track.
This month’s guest is Travis Temeyer, Director of Purchasing at Eastern Michigan University. Travis leads a small team in managing the entire procurement operation of the university. Needless to say, he gets things done! Here’s more on how he does it.
Tell me a bit about your background, and how you got into procurement?
I was a construction project manager here at the university, and had been in the construction industry for about 10 years. Being a project manager, I was heavily involved in procurement already, procuring contractors, architects, and other equipment for construction projects. I was looking to make a bit of a change, professionally, and it was a natural fit for me to move over to a purchasing role focused on facilities.
I was a senior agent for a number of years. After we went through a staff reduction and our director left, I was asked to take the interim role. I was offered the permanent role a couple of months later.
How does your team use Bonfire?
We use Bonfire for all of our procurement RFPs, save for printing projects. We’re starting to use it now for our vendor management as more tools are rolled out.
The main thing it gives us is visibility for all the stakeholders across campus. We use Bonfire as an effective way to communicate with the project stakeholders involved in a proposal review. It allows them to go in, see everything they need, do their evaluation, and send it back to us.
If it’s a highly visible project, I can add observers to monitor what’s going on. I also have one of my buyers who is taking on more of the RFPs add me as an observer so I can ensure she’s using the tool correctly.
How is the RFP process different now as opposed to before Bonfire?
We had a pretty developed process before. It was more labour intensive, because it was built around Excel and internal documents. We took that and rolled it into Bonfire. We use the tool now to bring our process into a centralized location.
It also has helped us move away from receiving paper copies. Everything is gathered in one spot rather than having to download, create spreadsheets, and manage it through multi-layered internal system.
What tools or strategies help you stay organized?
The top thing is: make myself a to-do list, and prioritize based on email.
The other thing is that I really do try to delegate to my employees. There are things that I don’t need to handle that they can handle, so I send things on to them.
When it comes to Bonfire, I try to keep as much information in Bonfire as I can. I don’t download and email things around. We try to make sure everything and everybody involved in the project goes through the platform.
What resources/publications do you turn to for industry information?
I participate with a lot of LinkedIn forums, and with a group of all the public universities in the state of Michigan.
We also get procurement research reports through a particular service. I talk to vendors too, about what they’re seeing in the marketplace.
What do you consider to be the key skills for procurement professionals?
They have to be able to analyze and understand data that is in front of them and communicate effectively what that data means. I would say that is the most important thing.
At a university, you’re dealing with people across the campus, from many different backgrounds. You have to be able to communicate with each of those people about what you need in order to be able to get them what they need.
Also, you have to have humility — this comes through in the fact that you’re not an expert on all of these areas that you are tasked with sourcing. You have to rely on other departments and other people to provide you with information.
As a small team, we’re focused on compliance with policy; we’re not here to be judge and jury about what people should buy. We want to help them buy what they need in the best possible way. Being able to communicate, being able to be flexible: that comes down to humility as a person, and understanding your limitations and asking for help.
Anybody can source. People buy stuff on their own all the time, that’s not hard to do. But being able to analyze, be attentive to detail, communicate, and showing humility are key components.
Do you have advice to offer about a career in procurement?
Be willing to talk to people, understand their viewpoint, get out of your office and meet people face to face.
About the Author
Lindsay creates case studies, white papers, and other content to help modern sourcing and purchasing teams navigate the procurement technology landscape.More Content by Lindsay Kroes