PM: What is Penn’s general procedure for hiring a vendor for printed products?
Wilder: Our first and foremost goal is to make it easy for vendors to work with us. Our purchasing department has a great online process that benefits both vendors and the staff, as it eliminates unnecessary paperwork and approvals, and makes finding the product simple. The individual schools, centers or departments are then free to choose whatever approved vendor they please. However, in an effort to leverage the purchasing power of the university to secure more competitive pricing, Penn’s purchasing department has recently launched an effort to negotiate contracts with specific vendors.
PM: If you have used one vendor for most of your products, what would be a key factor in trying
Wilder: One of the key things we are always looking for is uniqueness and creativity. Because many departments utilize some kind of promotional item, we are always trying to find something that stands out from the crowd. ... If I do find someone who has an exclusive [item] or who manufactures their own products, I often try them out.
... Given Penn’s commitment to sustainability, offering ‘green’ products would certainly be something that would give a vendor an edge with us.
PM: Do the kinds of products you order from year to year vary, or are your orders standard?
Wilder: My orders usually vary, but I know some schools and departments keep a standard stock of items. As a division, we also order some standard products, such as pens with our logo, which we have available for meetings, or mugs, which we distribute as part of our new hiring process. But for the most part, our offerings vary from year to year depending on new marketing campaigns, new promotional offerings, university or division initiatives, or special events.