The Johns Hopkins Gazette: March 26, 2001
March 26, 2001
VOL. 30, NO. 27


Purchasing Program Off to Good Start

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette
Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

Irene Felicetti, budget administrator for the Department of Ophthalmology at the School of Medicine, recalls not too fondly the many emergency office-supply trips. Whether in need of parchment paper for a newsletter, or slide sheets for a presentation, Felicetti was periodically called upon to drive either to or from work to the Office Depot on Pulaski Highway to pick up the needed supplies. The load was often manageable, Felicetti says, but at times she found herself awkwardly lugging reams of paper and assorted other supplies from the car to her office.

"It was a struggle once I pulled into the driveway here," Felicetti says. "Not a pleasant task."

Today, however, Felicetti barely has to lift a finger when an office supply need arises.

As part of the new Select Vendor agreement with Office Depot, fully implemented this past January, those at the university and Applied Physics Laboratory who purchase office supplies can now order via the Internet and expect next-day "desktop" delivery. For Felicetti and others taking advantage of the agreement, it's a simple, one-stop shopping option that is already paying dividends.

Since January, Hopkins personnel have purchased more than $150,000 worth of supplies through Office Depot. The agreement with the retail vendor, intended to provide office supplies at significantly reduced prices, is an initiative of the university's Business Process Improvement Committee. The projected annual collaborative savings, once all institutions are participating, is more than $475,000. The health system will implement the program in July 2002.

Once a Select Vendor account is set up, all the person needs to do is go to the university's customized Office Depot Web site (, enter a password, select the office supplies needed and then place the order. The process is similar to that at any online retail site, but instead of filling out all the shipping and financial information each time an order is placed, inputting the proper password pulls up all relevant account information, such as the individual's JHU procurement card number and "ship to" address. In addition to online ordering, those who participate in the program can fax or phone their orders, or use a procurement card at any Office Depot store.

"It takes me maybe 10 minutes at most to place a large order. And they always have whatever I am looking for," Felicetti says. "I really like being able to get on the Internet, find what I need in stock and then have it arrive the next day."

Tonya McGill, administrative assistant in the university's Technology Transfer Office, says she enjoys not having to pull out her account information each time she orders something.

"You go to the site, enter your password, and it is all set up for us. Items that we frequently purchase are right there on the home page. Ordering this way is much simpler, and there wasn't much to learn," McGill says.

Both Felicetti and McGill also enjoy the cost benefits of the new program.

Office Depot has more than 16,000 items in stock for next-day delivery and offers special fixed pricing on the top 250 items purchased by the university community. Pricing on all items, except for copier paper, will be held firm for three years.

Items not included on that list also can be bought at significant discounts.

"I'm finding, on many of the items, we paid a lot more money before we switched to Office Depot," Felicetti says, listing products such as photocopy paper and pens.

Paul Beyer, director of Purchasing, says he is very satisfied so far with the results of the new agreement.

"We got off to a terrific start," Beyer says. "There was a really good response to the two roll-out days in January. Hundreds of people signed up for accounts."

Since then, the Purchasing Office has received numerous unsolicited comments from buyers who say they appreciate the program's discounts, fast delivery and ease of use.

For Beyer, the smooth implementation has allowed him a small sigh of relief. "We had some operational fears, knowing that we promised next-day delivery. But aside from a few snafus very early on, we hear that Office Depot is overwhelmingly meeting its next-day delivery promise," Beyer says. "We also had some concerns about pricing, but the pricing is very good and is as advertised."

The Purchasing Office will soon begin to track the level of participation in the program. The goal is to have 80 percent of Johns Hopkins Institutions' office purchases be through Office Depot within a two-to-three-year period.

In addition to the cost savings and one-stop-shopping benefit, the Johns Hopkins-Office Depot partnership program offers a dedicated team of sales and customer service personnel that serves the university community.

Felicetti says she has nothing but praise for the Office Depot personnel she has worked with so far.

"We really like our delivery person. She has a great attitude, so pleasant and cooperative. That means a lot to me," Felicetti says. "It's part of what makes purchasing supplies this way so much better than before."

For more information on the Office Depot program, assistance on an existing account or problems with ordering, contact Darlene Foehrkolb at 410-516-8015. To start an account, go to /jhuonly/office_depot_web.html.