Procurement Modernization

Procurement is an area that impacts a significant number of faculty, staff and students across the entire university given the size of UBC’s annual spend on goods and services.

Current state procurement processes at UBC are generally manual, time-consuming and supported by outdated systems and there is a significant opportunity to improve efficiency and effectiveness to better meet the needs of all stakeholders.

In comparison, most of the large Canadian universities have already implemented leading practice processes and solutions for procurement. To address current issues and catch up with leading practices, UBC is embarking on a project to modernize procurement.

What is the future vision?

The vision for procure-to-pay at UBC is to have automated, seamless, efficient and effective processes, shifting the focus to providing strategic and value added procurement services across the university.

Key principles to guide the future state of procurement at UBC include:

  • Simple, transparent, and easy to use processes and systems
  • Standardized processes as the norm with governance around exceptions
  • Automated and streamlined procurement processes while balancing risk
  • Increased focus on customer service
What has been done so far?

In summer 2016, an initial review phase was completed to understand current state activities and identify challenges. Following the review, quick win opportunities were also implemented, for example turn-around time for completed POs were reduced and UBC standard payment terms were reduced from 45 to 30 days.

What is happening next?

Phase 1 is now underway (February – May 2017), which is focused on improving end-to-end processes and developing a strategy for system implementation. Throughout Phase 1, faculty and staff stakeholders across the UBC community will be engaged to provide input and validate recommendations. Finance Leads will identify members from across the UBC Community who have direct knowledge and experience with procurement processes to participate in program activities and workshops.

Work will be focused on four areas:

  • Process Improvement Review: deep-dive review of procurement processes to identify opportunities for standardization and improvement (using the Lean process improvement methodology)
  • Strategic Sourcing Overview: review UBC spend to identify strategic sourcing opportunities, keeping in mind the uniqueness of some areas of spend
  • Procurement IT Strategy: development of a strategy to recommend options to automate and simplify Procure-to-Pay processes. This includes how or if this should fit within the existing HR Finance System Renewal Project
  • Online Payment Tool (OPT) Review: identify and prioritize OPT improvement opportunities and consider the overall Procurement IT strategy

In Phase 2 (from June 2017) process improvement opportunities will begin to be implemented and the project will start to define how procurement is structured across UBC to support faculties and departments.

What is the timeline for this?

The goal is to implement the process, organizational and/or system recommendations developed in Phase 1 from June 2017 to 2018. The graphic below provides an overview of the Procurement Modernization timeline.

How does this relate to the HR Finance project?

The HR Finance System Renewal Project will take a broad lens on all systems supporting Finance and HR processes. More specifically, the Procurement Modernization program is focused on procurement processes and supporting systems.

The Procurement Modernization project team are making sure our work is closely integrated with activities underway for the full HR Finance transformation. In particular, the findings from Phase 1 will help determine whether a stand-alone system is more appropriate for procurement processes, or whether our needs can easily be met within the scope of the larger HR Finance System Renewal Project.


For more information, please contact:

Trish Pekeles
Executive Director, Financial Operations

Patrick Kavanagh
Procurement Modernization Project Manager