For 2020, we are expanding our Day in the Life series, interviewing different NASPO/NASPO ValuePoint teams. This series will give you an inside look at the work of a NASPO/NASPO ValuePoint team. This week we caught up with some of the staff of NASPO ValuePoint including: Chief Operations Officer (COO), Sarah Hilderbrand; Cooperative Contract Lead Coordinator (CCLC), Ted Fosket; Cooperative Contract Coordinator (CCC) , Jeff Holden; Cooperative Contract Coordinator III (CCC III), Voight Shealy; and Director of Administrative Services, Lee Ann Pope
NASPO ValuePoint is the cooperative contracting division of NASPO and facilitates administration of the NASPO cooperative group contracting of state Chief Procurement Officials (CPOs) for the benefit of state departments, institutions, agencies, and political subdivisions; as well as other eligible entities including cities, counties, special districts community colleges, universities and some quasi-governmental and nonprofit organizations.
Keep reading to get to learn more about NASPO ValuePoint and what a day on their team looks like!
Pulse: How would you describe the work your department does?
Ted Fosket, CCLC: ValuePoint works to uplift sourcing teams by staying ahead of trends and offering education on best practices and available resources. ValuePoint staffers aim to make themselves market experts so that we can help states stay ahead of whatever may happen tomorrow. In public procurement, you never know what tomorrow’s excitement will be.
ValuePoint staffers are also working with research and innovation to pinpoint needed resources for states and sourcing teams. In fact, you could say ValuePoint staffers have to do a LOT of talking…
Voight Shealy, CCC: It’s been known…trade shows, conferences, supplier fairs… You hand me a microphone and I’ll talk anywhere, anytime.
Pulse: How does the work you do, benefit NASPO members?
ValuePoint Staff: Virtually every benefit that NASPO members receive is paid for from ValuePoint Contracts. NASPO members also get access to us. As a state’s staff interact with us, they gain valuable information on the profession and process of public procurement. It is such a great situation when you hear from all parties… suppliers, subject matter experts and procurement professionals, how much they have learned from each other!
ValuePoint staff have a unique ability to leverage subject matter experts across the country that no single state can bring to the table. For example, ValuePoint was preparing a solicitation for an IT cloud solution, Dugan Petty, one of our Cooperative Contract Coordinators, built a committee of 10 Chief Information Officers from states across the country for their expertise. That’s 10 subject matter experts working on one solicitation.
Sarah Hilderbrand, COO: The ability to work on a sourcing team, or be a lead on a sourcing team, builds relationships. This offers an opportunity to collaborate with procurement professionals from across the nation. That means new ideas, new forms, new views on long standing issues that you’ve encountered. It’s a chance to find a new mentor or even be a new mentor.…These relationships are irreplaceable!
Pulse: Describe your typical day in the job. If there is no typical day, what are some common tasks that you work on?
Jeff Holden, CCC: Every day is something new. Expos, trade shows, assisting sourcing teams, evaluations… there is no exact routine. We are providing service not to just state procurement professionals, but local government too. I get asked a lot, “How can a small local agency access our contracts?” We can help!
We are constantly providing counseling or guidance to suppliers on how they can best do business with the state or local governments.
Shealy: Just this morning I counseled a supplier who is not currently a NASPO ValuePoint supplier but wants to be. I have also assisted a current NASPO ValuePoint supplier on a PA approval for a local government entity, which involved working in conjunction with that state’s CPO. Later this afternoon I am speaking with another supplier who is attending NASPO’s upcoming Exchange Conference for the first time.
Lee Ann Pope, Director of Administration.: Data analytics are growing in the world of public procurement. We have a lot of questions come in about what states are purchasing off a certain state’s contract. Many states do not have these analytical technologies. Because of these requests, we are building a way for states to have this data readily available for them.
Hilderbrand: There’s also tracking every portfolio and where it’s at in the process. Through coordination with one of our academic partners, Oregon State University, we are also looking at other cooperative contracts and statewide contracts that large states are utilizing. This project allows us not to compete with states and identify gaps in service or commodity. We are constantly looking for efficiencies and to modernize our processes, the phrase continuous improvements comes to mind.
Pulse: How many people are on your team?
ValuePoint Staff: That’s a tough question for us. We have our technology team, the CCC team, our general counsel, and we count our sourcing teams and team leads as members of our team. We work heavily with the Professional Development Team at NASPO, Academic Affairs, Membership Engagement…NASPO ValuePoint has become so integrated. We are working and moving in conjunction with each other. Throwing an exact number on it is hard; our message is, we are one team.
Pulse: What is the biggest challenge your team faces? Are there any misconceptions people have about your team?
ValuePoint Staff: Our major challenges are not different than what most central procurement offices are facing. One of those being, we are doing more now with a smaller team; this is a common experience in the procurement world. As hard as this can make the day-to-day, it makes understanding our central procurement agencies that much easier because our challenges are so similar. When you look at ValuePoint as a whole, we are a small team in comparison to other cooperatives.
Fosket: We may be shorter staffed by comparison, but there is no one else that has as much fun and truly enjoys their day-to-day, like NASPO ValuePoint staff.
Pulse: What is the best thing about this team at NASPO?
ValuePoint Staff: There is a huge amount of respect for each team member’s skill sets and abilities. We are truly a team, and we lean on each other accordingly. Each member of our team comes to ValuePoint with a procurement background. We understand the barriers, we understand the issues, and we truly care about each interaction. We have a passion for service and the public procurement profession. This commonality—it is the best part of waking up each day being a ValuePoint team member. It’s an earnest devotion to the procurement profession.
Pulse: What can members do to help you help them?
ValuePoint Staff: Get involved! Volunteer to lead solicitations, join a sourcing team, or assist an existing sourcing team. Also—tell us what you need and how we can improve!
Shealy: Don’t be afraid to report to us on improvements. Just this morning I had someone reach out to me about improving one of our existing contracts.
Pulse: What is one goal that your team has over the next 6 months? 12 months?
Fosket: For me, over the next 6 months, my goal is to get our newer staff completely trained and fully on-boarded.
Hilderbrand: I want to focus more on forms and processes and how we can make ValuePoint as efficient as possible and grow our data analytics. I also want to be able to take a deeper dive into each portfolio and develop a detailed, data-driven plan for everyone. Our website is going to have some major improvements including easier ways to find things, updating the portfolio page… This is a time of transition and in the next 6 to 12 months, a lot of this is going to come together.
Pulse: How do you determine what success looks like on your team?
ValuePoint Staff: There’s many things that define success for us. First and foremost, our relationships dictate our success—our relationships with each other and to every supplier, sourcing team member, and central procurement office. When we are working together, trusting and respecting each other’s skill sets and abilities, while pushing forward the needle of progress on a solicitation; that looks like success.
When we have participation in sourcing teams—these are the life blood of ValuePoint. When CPOs, procurement professionals or subject matter experts get involved in sourcing teams, and we see them growing, and the relationships being fostered; that’s success too.
Although it isn’t the focus, but is an indicator of success, sales. The sales of our contracts show that we are doing a great job of getting procurement professionals needed contracts with the best value on the market.
Pulse: If your department had a mascot, what would it be?
ValuePoint Staff: It would absolutely be a Huskey. Like huskies, we work towards a common goal and move in step as a team. Huskies will run until they die. Unlike dalmatians who take a seat—huskies keep running, they keep moving and advancing forward. That’s what we are at ValuePoint—we are one team, moving towards our goals.
In case you’ve missed it: don’t forget to check out #ProcurementMonth and #PROfessionalPROcurement on social media and see how we’re celebrating Procurement Month, all March long!