July 04, 2023

by Kailash Srinivasan

The SFU procurement team's successful response to supply chain disruptions while maintaining sustainable practices and strong relationships during the pandemic was recently featured in University Manager (CAUBO's flagship publication) in an article titled, Small dance steps lead to success: Mitigating supply chain disruptions, alongside procurement teams from Concordia and King's University. This article explores how the SFU Procurement team's actions directly benefit our community and align with SFU's What's Next priorities.

Facing challenges like budget shortfalls and supply chain unpredictability, the team adopted strategies to ensure the best overall value for SFU. Taking the learnings from the pandemic, the team now maintains a diverse pool of suppliers, focusing on reducing our joint carbon footprint and working to reduce emissions together. The team has engaged EcoVadis, a global sustainability assessment service, to evaluate our suppliers' environmental, ethical and social performance. This focus on sustainability and social responsibility contributes directly to the priority of making a difference for BC, promoting environmentally responsible practices within our communities.

The procurement team has learned to adapt quickly in emergencies to better manage unique challenges. The team anticipates potential challenges, such as material availability or lead times from offshore suppliers and proactively meets with end-users and suppliers to identify and explore alternatives. This ensures that critical university projects continue without delays, directly benefiting faculty, staff and students, transforming the SFU experience by providing timely resources and support.

Supply chain disruptions and financial challenges can lead to project delays or scaled-back initiatives. To address these issues, the team prioritizes timely, open and transparent communication to keep stakeholders informed and involved. 

The team also collaborates with IT and Facilities on stocking programs and alternative sources for time-sensitive equipment like desktop computers and safety gear. They encourage researchers to keep spare maintenance parts and conduct vendor-supervised remote maintenance without voiding warranties.  By providing a supportive and efficient environment for our researchers, the team supports the university's priority of transforming the SFU experience.

"In these uncertain times, staying true to our values and mission is more important than ever," says Lily Li, Procurement Manager. "Our team has demonstrated that by working together and embracing sustainable practices, we can overcome obstacles and continue to support the university's goals effectively."

Through their sustainable practices, transparent communication and collaborative approach, SFU Procurement benefits our community and shapes a brighter future for us all.