National procurement project recognized by the Canadian Association of University Business Officers

Cybera’s collaboration skills were recently commended on a national stage by the Canadian Association of University Business Officers (CAUBO). At its 2024 Quality and Productivity Awards, CAUBO organizers honoured a cross-Canada group of collaborators — including Cybera — for its role in pioneering an innovative and highly effective procurement method centered on interorganizational knowledge sharing.

Canadian post-secondary institutions have long relied on ROMEO, a popular electronic research administration system (ERAS) that is used to submit, review and approve grant applications. When ROMEO announced in 2023 its upcoming phase-out, universities nationwide realized they needed to find a replacement. 

To avoid an unnecessary duplication of efforts, the Alliance of Canadian Comprehensive Research Universities (ACCRU) asked a collaborative group comprising Cybera, BCNET, the Ontario Education Collaborative Marketplace (OECM), and InterUniversity Services (ISI) to find a replacement. This collaborative strategy diverges significantly from traditional solo approaches to IT procurement and, as we discovered, offers several key advantages. 

First, it allows subject matter experts from different organizations across the country to share their expertise. Interorganizational knowledge sharing has long been key to the success of Cybera’s ShareIT program within Alberta. Expanding this sharing to the interprovincial level enabled the group to compile a comprehensive list of requirements for potential vendors, ensuring that prospective solutions will meet all the needs of the nation’s diverse post-secondary institutions.

Second, it consolidates the purchasing power of Canadian higher education as a whole, driving down vendor prices. “When you represent 30 post-secondary institutions instead of just one, vendors are going to offer you much better deals,” says Harold Berry, Procurement Lead for Cybera. 

Finally, it eases the burden on already time-constrained procurement staff within individual institutions. Large, potentially unwieldy projects become significantly more manageable when each phase of the procurement process can be assigned to a different organization. In this instance, BCNET handled the initial request for information (RFI), OECM led the RFx development, while Cybera, ISI and BCNet are overseeing the evaluation of submissions.

The evaluations are expected to be done in late summer, with a final ERAS purchasing agreement made available to the national post-secondary market in the fall. 

The early results of this project underscore the critical role of interorganizational cooperation and knowledge-sharing in identifying and securing IT solutions in Canada. We are grateful that our approach received recognition at the 2024 Quality and Productivity Awards, and are committed to collaborating on similar projects in the future.

Main image (L-R): Perry Arzumanian, Director, Strategic Sourcing, OECM; Charlotte Beauparlant, ShareIT Senior Project Lead, Cybera; David Davidson, CEO, ISI; Dennis Silva, Chief Procurement Officer, BCNET.

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