Empowering the Future with E&I’s Strategic Advisory Boards

At E&I we have always valued stakeholder engagement in our process and design, and member needs are our number one priority. In recent years we have repurposed and redefined our various advisory boards to enhance their impact, and we are excited to share some updates with you. 

We facilitate two different stakeholder-driven Strategic Advisory Boards (SABs): the Member SAB and the Business Partner SAB. These boards are vital in shaping our current and future strategic roadmaps. Our SABs provide guidance and support, fostering a culture of innovation, excellence, and strategic thinking. Our participants’ involvement ensures we remain at the forefront of emerging trends, embrace new opportunities, and navigate challenges with agility.

Our SABs bring together renowned leaders and influencers, leveraging their collective expertise and experiences to provide invaluable insights and strategic counsel. Each member and business partner is carefully selected for their profound industry knowledge, forward-thinking perspectives, and their proven track record of success. Both SABs meet quarterly, with one in-person meeting annually to facilitate networking and collaboration in a more intimate setting.

Member SAB

Launched in 2021, the Member Strategic Advisory Board aims to gather unique insights from our members to help shape E&I’s strategic direction. Through extensive discussions with our first two-year cycle of cohorts, we’ve captured input, feedback, and ideas, resulting in a comprehensive “Member Voice” that directly influences every major aspect of our Cooperative.

The Member SAB allows us to focus on the distinct needs of different-sized campuses and ensures that we are hearing from a diverse group of procurement professionals in the education sector. It fosters networking opportunities, facilitates learning, and encourages the sharing of innovative ideas and strategies among members.

Since its inception, our Member SAB has been instrumental in shaping E&I’s roadmap, providing valuable insights and guiding our key projects. Here are a few key examples of the remarkable work accomplished in the last two years:

  • The strength of the contracts that we provide members is the core of what we do. The SAB has helped us make significant improvements in this area:
    • We created a working group to improve contract template language and develop our rebate alternative program.
    • We gathered input to help shape the direction of our Supplier Diversity Program.
    • We conducted an in-depth review and redesign of our Sourcing methodology to ensure we are bringing the strongest possible contracts to our members and doing so efficiently manner.
  • We launched a case management process in early 2023. This program is focused on:
    • Ensuring we are resolving supplier issues quickly for our members
    • Documenting and addressing trends related to supplier performance.
      • For example, are there recurring service issues? Is a supplier repeatedly out of compliance with our contract? Are there issues with the accuracy of their spend reporting?
    • In last year’s fall session, we gathered input on our contract alignment and onboarding processes.
      • When we say alignment, we are talking about the process of supporting a member from the moment they decide to use a contract through the process of getting their account set up with the supplier and “aligned” to E&I.
    • SAB input was used to develop our standard onboarding process, which we launched early this summer to assist members with effective campus communication and best practices for increasing end user adoption after aligning to an E&I contract.
    • Direction was provided by this team regarding the content available on our contract microsites, such as contract documentation, pricing structure, and more. The new format is cleaner and standardized, so you can find the information you need quickly.
    • We created the member profile to help us understand our members – their institutional priorities, procurement’s level of influence, enterprise technologies being leveraged (including ePro platform and punchout opportunities), E&I portfolio alignment and more.
      • The goal is to understand each member’s campus at a deeper level to communicate relevant information more effectively.
      • This information is also foundational for our member portal and peer networking platform, both of which are projects tentatively slated for 2024.
    • eProcurement solutions – earlier this year we launched our online marketplace. In our discussions with SAB members, we explored barriers to eProcurement and learned that beyond cost there was a need for assistance with implementation and training to support a successful launch across campus. The marketplace is currently being refined and a new version is pending in early 2024. Please check here for more information.

Beyond 2024 we have our parking lot, where we’re keeping track of the other big ideas generated by this group, to be able to prioritize them as we accomplish the current projects on our roadmap.

What’s next for the Member SAB?

We are excited to bring in a new cohort of members for the next two-year cycle. We’d like to extend a special thank you to our pioneering members who contributed to the establishment of the Member SAB and helped us understand how to collaborate moving forward. To our new members, we welcome you and look forward to your insights, perspectives, and knowledge!

Business Partner SAB

The Business Partner SAB was established in January of 2023 and held its inaugural meeting in February at E&I’s second annual Business Partner Summit. The BP SAB advises E&I on its activities and strategy, ensuring that we serve our business partner community and our members in the most meaningful ways possible. This allows E&I to focus the discussion on the unique needs of different business partners and ensure that we are hearing from a diverse group of business partners who offer innovative advice and dynamic perspectives.

Comprised of 13 representatives with diverse backgrounds and real-world experience, the BP SAB brings together a wealth of innovative ideas and dynamic viewpoints. Our goal is to expand the opportunities for business partners to be directly involved in guiding E&I’s strategic direction, continually increasing value to our members.

Although the BP SAB has only met once, already their ideas, feedback, and passion have significantly influenced our approach to business partnerships and the potential value they bring to the ever-evolving procurement and education communities. Exciting experiments and solutions are on the horizon, so stay tuned!

What’s next for the BP SAB? 

We will meet again in July to delve deeper into innovative ways to bring higher-level solutions to our members.

We look forward to the continued contributions of our SABs as we navigate the complexities of our industry, capitalize on emerging opportunities, and shape the future of E&I. With their guidance and our shared vision, we are confident in our ability to achieve remarkable milestones and create a lasting positive impact.

Stay tuned for updates as we continue to embark on this journey together. The future is bright, and we are grateful to have our SABs by our side as we pave the way forward. In the coming months, we will be updating our website to include more detail on the SABs, including participant information, meeting details, and summary outcomes.

Are you eager to make a difference?

Learn more about the various ways you can get involved at E&I!


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