The Cost of Buying

BlueDollarHave you ever wondered how much it costs for a school district to process an order from a school? My guess is no. Why would you? You have more important things to worry about such as preparing lessons, discipline issues, report cards and so on. But did you know that by following a few simple guidelines, you can save yourself tons of time and save your school and district tons of money. We will briefly discuss the cost of ordering and provide some solutions for you as teachers, administrators or buyers to reduce your cost impact at your school district.

Estimates by industry professionals put the cost of a Purchase Order transaction anywhere from $85.00 to $150.00 or more. These are the real administrative costs (time, materials, salaries) that result from the actual paper or electronic flow of a transaction including the requisition, the purchase order, the receiving documentation and the eventual payment. Not included is the cost of the time put in by buyers or teachers to research the item required, prepare RFP’s or tender documents, put together lists, develop specifications, test samples, pay for delivery and so on.

For large ticket items such as major technology acquisitions, audio video systems, and such, $150.00 may be well worth it. However, any tool to reduce this cost is most welcome. For small purchases, the cost is prohibitive and I would argue in the public sector, unacceptable.

Here are three simple solutions to assist in reducing the cost of the buying process for smaller acquisitions.

1.    Using established lists of resources to determine “what” to buy

2.    Using online ordering systems to reduce the cost of “how” you buy

3.    Use Purchasing cards as an ordering and payment tool to save “when” you buy

An established list of resources eliminates the need to spend your valuable time trying to determine what to buy. The research has been done for you. Lists of specific resources for specific subject and school areas will save you countless hours of catalogue and website surfing. For example, a list of recommended Kindergarten resources can be used to furnish an entire Kindergarten classroom or it can be used to see what might be missing in your classroom. It can also assist in providing ideas to meet your needs. You can purchase a list at www.theclassroomsolution.com  for $7.95. This is a sound and wise investment as we will demonstrate when we will add up the totals at the end.

Now you have the list. It took 5 minutes of your time to find it and download it. Now, you go to an established online ordering system in your area. It could be a stationery supplier, a school specialty supplier or even a furniture supplier. Perhaps a professional association or a cooperative buying group (see theclassroomsolution.com for more information on cooperatives) has an online ordering system in place that your district or school can utilize. Again, five minutes would be all that is needed to place the order.

Since you will pay for the order on you Purchasing Card, you have saved in the vicinity of $70.00 to $135.00 in processing costs. The documents you need to implement a P-Card program are also available at The Classroom Solution Inc.

Now......In addition to the cost of the re-usable resource list, you have spent 10 minutes of downloading time and 2 minutes to reconcile your invoice to your Purchasing Card statement plus perhaps $15.00 in processing costs to the District (again this number is based on Industry research findings). This is profoundly less costly than the alternative. And next time, you won’t have to download the list because you already own it. You could save more money by downloading Solution Bundles that can be used over and over and can be shared with colleagues. You can share the cost as well, further reducing your investment.

Another benefit to this type of buying is that because it is so cost effective, you don’t need to worry about stocking up at the end or beginning of the year because you only buy what you need when you need it. You won’t have to commit hundreds or thousands of dollars that may not get used up during the course of the school year.

Think in terms of shopping. Everybody is a shopper. Given the security of today’s internet e-commerce systems like PayPal, f you could get the same item online as you could get from a store for the same cost, would you order online? You could use your time to do more enjoyable things than stand in long hot line-ups at a big box store and burning gas in your SUV.

Food for thought, don’t you think?

JamieJames Dobbin is President of The Classroom Solution, Inc. As a Certified Public Purchasing Officer with 35 years in purchasing and supply, the most recent 23 years in the K-12 environment, James brings a wealth of knowledge to schools and teachers needing assistance in making school purchasing decisions. Understanding that teachers spend a considerable amount of their own time and money buying resources for their classrooms, James created theclassroomsolution.com with the desire to reach out to and help as many teachers as possible to find simple and cost effective buying solutions to help enhance the learning experience in their classrooms.