Feb. 16, 2009

e-SHOP tops list of priorities for cost-savings committee

One of the first areas a university cost-savings committee has targeted for improved efficiency is e-SHOP, the university's online procurement system.

The group is also analyzing costs of printing and energy use, said Betsy Shrier, co-chair of the Campus Savings and Efficiencies Committee.

"It was pretty obvious from the online suggestion box that these were areas to consider," she said, "but vice presidents were already looking at them."

The committee will report its initial recommendations to President David Skorton and the vice presidents Feb. 23. The report is based on the community's 880 suggestions, many submitted online at http://www.cuinfo.cornell.edu.

The committee is also working on a communications plan and continues to reply to each person who submits a suggestion.

"We're really trying to be responsive to everyone out there," said Shrier, director of administration, communication and outreach services in the Division of Human Resources.

Skorton initially solicited cost-saving ideas from students, faculty, staff and alumni in an Oct. 30 statement on the effects of the national economic crisis on the university community.

While suggestions continue to come in, a subcommittee is figuring out how to increase the use of e-SHOP, which allows Cornell employees to buy work-related goods -- from beverages and janitorial supplies to computers -- online at a reduced price from preferred vendors. This tool was first installed in October 2006, but its deployment schedule has been stepped up due to the financial situation, said Thomas Romantic, committee co-chair and senior director of supply channel management and business services.

The e-SHOP platform provides significant potential for cost savings for transactions, supply base consolidation, processing, product management, transparency and data consolidation. The main obstacle to overcome is integrating a variety of business processes into a single business tool, Romantic said.

On the communications front, the first step is to make the CU Info Web page a portal for news and information about the committee's work. The site includes links to the suggestion box, ongoing coverage in the Cornell Chronicle and Pawprint and a list, still in the works, of cost-savings tips, Shrier said.

"For example, what if everybody turned off their computer and printer at night and printed on both sides of paper? Individuals can have a big impact," she said. On the unit level, each executive vice president and vice president will receive recommendations for their respective areas.

The committee will continue to meet every two weeks to look at more ways to streamline expenses. It welcomes volunteers interested in any aspect of the project, Shrier said. "We'd love to have more people involved."