Lancaster-Lebanon IU 13: Just-in-time Delivery of Supplies Saves Real Money

 Paper clips, pencils, notebooks, glue, paper – all are essential to the daily business of educating students.

Traditionally, schools have saved money by ordering supplies in bulk at the beginning of each school year. But around 2008, Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13 noticed that districts were ordering items as needed. Though it often meant spending more per item, the change improved cash flow, reduced inventory, and kept orders from becoming obsolete.

So, the IU took a cue from the corporate world and created “just-in-time delivery,” now serving 45 public and nonpublic schools. The online service provides next-day, one-stop shopping for office, classroom, and some instructional supplies, while maintaining group-purchasing discounts and competitive prices. Teachers, administrators, and support staff get “what they need, when they need it,” delivered straight to their desks, says IU 13 Collaborative and Purchasing Services Manager Steven Frey.

“We developed a solution which does all that,” he says. “They can order today and get it tomorrow.”

The Office Supply Procurement Program has saved up to $240,000 in the price of products, storage, and labor since 2009, estimates Frey. Schools and districts find better use for existing storage space, which ranges from warehouses to “a few closets that they’re trying to cram stuff into,” says Frey. And the risk of workers’ compensation filings goes down because district workers aren’t transferring orders such as cases of paper from storage to office.

The program has bought about $3 million in office supplies since 2009. Business managers are pleased because they used to tie up cash with bulk orders placed in the summer, preparing for each new school year.

“That is huge,” says Frey. “It could be a big savings in the cost of money, if they have to borrow money to place a lot of orders at once.”

Participating schools extend beyond IU 13’s territory, and the IU is exploring taking the program statewide, so more schools can take advantage of just-in-time ordering and delivery.

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