[caf_filter id="165"]


Cook County Presents: “Procurement Transformation in the Windy City.”

On Tuesday, August 23, 2022 representatives from Cook County, Illinois, and implementation partner Civic Initiatives will present at the NIGP Forum 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts, on how they have partnered to transform the county’s procurement process. Cook County’s Chief Procurement Officer, Raffi Sarrafian, and Civic Initiatives’s Dustin Lanier, Certified Public Procurement Officer, will lead the discussion.

In the past several years, Cook County, with the help of Civic Initiatives, has launched a series of improvement projects with the goal of making their procurement process more efficient and effective. During their presentation, Sarrafian and Lanier will discuss the impetus for the project as well as their goals. They will provide examples of initiatives that have been implemented or are underway and they will discuss how partners like Civic Initiatives and EqualLevel have contributed to their procurement transformation. All the while sharing lessons that could prove helpful for other local governments considering similar innovations. Among the projects they will be discussing is Cook County’s utilization of EqualLevel’s eProcurement marketplace to automate and significantly reduce manual entry for the county’s requisitions, POs and invoices.

With a population of over 5,000,000, Cook County is the second most populous county in the U.S. The county’s 2022 operating budget is just over $8 billion. “We have close to 600 active contracts in the aggregate of a little over a billion dollars (with) somewhere around 400 million in procurement…all necessary for the daily operation of Cook County,” said Sarrafian on a recent episode of the podcast, “Public Procurement Change Agents.” Given the county’s size and volume of spend, streamlining processes could produce significant savings both in employee time and purchasing dollars.

Civic Initiatives was founded in 2010 and has provided procurement transformation assistance to entities across the U.S. The firm supports operating model reform, spend management, and procurement automation. 

“NIGP: The Institute for Public Procurement,” develops, supports and promotes the public procurement profession through research and educational programs, professional support, technical services, and advocacy initiatives that benefit members and other stakeholders. Their annual NIGP forum brings together professionals at all levels to learn from and support one another. The conference will take place August 22, 2022 to August 24, 2022 and will be held at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Sessions will be offered both in-person as well as virtually. Industry events such as these are critical for promoting information sharing among procurement professionals across the U.S.


EqualLevel Congratulates 2022 NPI Achievement of Excellence in Procurement Award Recipients

EqualLevel is pleased to announce that five of its customers have been honored with the prestigious 2022 National Procurement Institute’s Achievement of Excellence in Procurement Award. We are proud to partner with each of these amazing procurement organizations. The value they deliver to their organizations and the public sector is unmatched, and their accolades are richly deserved.

The National Procurement Institute (NPI) is a non-profit organization that serves public procurement professionals. Their Achievement of Excellence in Procurement Award recognizes organizational excellence in public procurement. Recipients were selected based on five categories: innovation, professionalism, productivity, eProcurement, and leadership. The AEP is the premier award in public procurement.

EqualLevel congratulates the following entities on their important achievement:

NIP AEG Award Winners


EqualLevel Launches MyFunds to Automate the Management of K-12 Supplemental Funds

EqualLevel, the leading procure-to-pay compliance platform, announces the launch of MyFunds, a solution for K-12 school districts to manage supplemental funds.

MyFunds will allow school districts to allocate supplemental funds directly to teachers for easy access and to track all spending. Teachers can use their funds to make purchases in an online marketplace or to quickly submit reimbursement requests. As an innovative solution, MyFunds will automate the fund management process, and eliminate paper receipts and forms.

“With K-12 operating under tight budget constraints, school districts need an all-inclusive solution to manage the procure-to-pay process for all district spending. Therefore, MyFunds was designed to complement EqualLevel’s eProcurement & eInvoicing offerings”, explained Orville Bailey, CEO of EqualLevel.

MyFunds Features
The EqualLevel MyFunds solution will transform K-12 fund management practices by automating the fund distribution, shopping, tracking, reconciliation, and reimbursement processes. This collapses the supplemental fund management cycle and minimizes administrative overhead. Having visibility into the spending of allocated funds and access to real-time reporting is also paramount for school districts across the country. MyFunds delivers line-item level transparency of every purchase and makes the audit process seamless.

MyFunds equips school districts with an easy-to-use marketplace of leading K-12 suppliers. Funds used in the marketplace will go further because teachers can shop from competitively bid contracts. In addition, the marketplace is AI-powered with the patent-pending EqualLevel Savings Advisor (ELSA) – technology that determines the optimal cart for the items being purchased and identifies savings that would otherwise be missed. To further streamline resources that school districts may find cumbersome, MyFunds automation of invoice capture, and reconciliation with orders and receipts, will decrease manual processes performed daily.

Teachers may also make purchases outside of the marketplace, therefore MyFunds has a mobile-friendly feature for online submission of reimbursement requests with receipts. Funds are encumbered while reimbursement requests are routed for approval. With an option for ACH reimbursement payments, EqualLevel has modernized the fund management process for school districts leaving no detail unnoticed.

EqualLevel continues to be a leader, providing a compliance platform that delivers full automation of the procure-to-pay process to ensure transparency and eliminate savings leakage. EqualLevel’s products provide solutions that are innovative and tailored for their customers.


MHEC Launches the i-buy marketplace

MHEC, the not-for-profit buying consortium for its New England members, announced today the launch of their new e-commerce site, i-buy marketplaceTM. This new free capability simplifies purchasing for MHEC members, regardless of contract, supplier, or product/service they desire. Like many other online shopping sites, i-buy equips members with the capabilities to compare products and pricing, brands, and suppliers. As a buying consortium, a key member benefit of i-buy, is its ability to enable members to buy from multiple contracts during the same shopping episode from reliable, vetted suppliers. Now, members have a tool that can serve as a “one stop” shopping experience.

Michael Di Yeso, executive director of MHEC spoke of the benefit to MHEC’s members saying, “We have over 2100 members that range from large university systems to small local libraries, from municipal government offices to K-12 schools, with varying levels of support for the purchasing function. Our i-buy marketplace delivers a powerful capability for a member organization to target their search and purchase specifically to what they need, regardless of size, sector, location, or purchasing operations. It’s a game changer and I’m proud to offer it to our members.”

The MHEC, known for its vast and diverse offering of over 25,000 products and services, began searching for an online platform following research conducted in 2020. Findings indicated members desired a simpler means to access and purchase from the 50+ contracts currently in the MHEC portfolio. Chris Raymond, director, contracts and operations noted, “It was a difficult task to find a platform that could embrace everything that was needed. We have many contracts, many products and services, and many suppliers. We needed a purchasing platform that could enable a many-to-many capability to meet the requirements identified by our members; including system integration. We found that in provider, EqualLevel.”

Michael Di Yeso added, “MHEC’s staff has over 300 years of collective experience in understanding the needs of those who buy. This is the team that supports our members. Their experience, training, and passion is what distinguishes us when it comes to sourcing products and services, bidding contracts, and delivering service. Our research led us to offer i-buy, but it also told us that service is our number one attribute. And that’s not going to change.”

A training video, a PDF with a list of steps, and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) are available on the mhec.net website.

MHEC is a not-for-profit Group Purchasing Organization. The organization was created in 1977 as the Massachusetts Higher Education Consortium to provide purchasing contracts for the state’s higher education systems. Its membership reach has expanded to include any not-for-profit organization with an educational component located in the six New England states. For this reason, the organization now identifies itself as MHEC to eliminate confusion over its regional coverage and the additional sectors beyond higher ed such as K-12, Municipalities (Cities and Towns), and Libraries.


Over $600k Saved at School Districts with EqualLevel’s Savings Advisor (ELSA)

When schoolteachers or those in K-12 procurement are making purchases for their classrooms, they often just make the most convenient purchase. But, choosing the item at the top of the search results, or going with the supplier they are most familiar with, often leads to unnecessary overspending. The extra dollars spent on these small purchases can add up fast and cost schools a significant amount of extra money each year. The EqualLevel Marketplace, by consolidating supplier catalogs and punchout stores into a single marketplace for comparison shopping, provides a unique opportunity to prevent this overspending.

Our patent-pending EqualLevel Savings Advisor™ (ELSA) combines the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and a growing database of commonly sourced products for K-12 to automatically identify in real-time the lowest price for your item or the best available substitute from your approved suppliers. This feature enables shoppers to quickly swap in the best price or enter a justification for keeping their current item. Detailed reporting is available on the alternatives suggested, decisions made, and the savings achieved or missed.

To measure the impact of the EqualLevel Savings Advisor, we looked at the spend from 20 school districts utilizing an EqualLevel Marketplace with ELSA in 2021. These 20 districts were from 5 states and integrated their marketplace to 8 different ERP systems — eFinancePlus, MUNIS, Oracle, PeopleSoft, SAP, Skyward, TEAMS, and USAS. In total, ELSA was able to save these districts $642,454 in 2021. These savings were realized directly from ELSA presenting shoppers a lower price from another approved contract for an item in their cart and the shopper choosing to make the replacement. The savings for each district depended primarily on their total spend. The average savings for a district was $32,122, with the highest savings being $282,852 for one of the larger school districts.

For most districts, these savings alone were able to provide an ROI for the marketplace application in just the first year. And even further savings were achieved through the marketplace ensuring contract compliance, increasing productivity, and reducing manual data entry and errors. Also, from the ELSA savings data for these 20 school districts, the savings are increasing over time. As more contracts are added to the marketplace and as the AI engine learns more from shoppers’ behavior, ELSA can identify more alternatives and drive more savings.

For K-12 school districts, a P2P solution can do more than streamline their procurement processes and ensure compliance—it can also drive significant cost savings. By incorporating real-time analysis using an AI engine into comparison shopping, the EqualLevel marketplace is able to prevent overspending and deliver immediate cost savings to school districts that can be put towards the classroom. An EqualLevel Marketplace can complement a variety of financial systems and can be implemented in 60 to 90 days, enabling a powerful return on investment within a single fiscal year.