Procurement Services Operations Officer John Medlin uses his 15 years of UNC Procurement experience to help the department plan for the future and analyze its progress along the way. As he gears up for a year of major procurement initiatives and process improvement, he wraps up involvement in a very successful cross-campus Operational Excellence project.
What is a typical day like in your job?
A typical day for me involves communicating and interacting with both internal and external customers and, when needed, with suppliers. As much as time allows, I participate in daily war room calls with various Campus Unit (CU) Finance Leads, and that involves reviewing and working with the Operational Excellence Procurement Dashboard. As I’ve recently begun transitioning to other projects, managing those daily calls has transitioned to another staff member. Additionally, I’ve been performing data analysis for metrics that we review on a monthly basis, as well as working with Asset Management over the last few months.
How does your job support Carolina’s mission?
I primarily support the University’s mission for research, scholarship, creativity, and teaching by providing support to both the campus and my department. Providing support can be anything from providing customer service to the campus community to providing data analysis for internal department metrics and working on continuous process improvement projects. Because of my previous procurement experience, I’m fortunate to be able to provide answers to questions related to procurement of goods and services, procurement rules and regulations, and some P-card and asset management processes. Currently, we have some really great projects in the works that will make the University more efficient as it relates to travel and expense cards, travel expense management, supplier portal, and additional ePro suppliers that will be added in the future.
You were recently recognized with an award for your work with Operational Excellence and the Early Impact – Procurement project. Can you share a bit about the goal for this project and your role?
First, from a procurement prospective, the objective of this project was to take a look at the number of campus vouchers being submitted and target those that were $250 and less. To illustrate, small purchases of goods and services have often been made from various suppliers by campus employees who were then reimbursed. Reimbursing an employee by campus voucher has been bench-marked at a cost to the University of between $50 to $200 in administrative hours for processing, plus the cost of the actual goods or services. An additional problem with employee reimbursement is that the University lost the ability to track spending by a supplier source or specific category because of the way these transactions were recorded. So, we wanted a better way to process these types of purchases.
The second goal was to develop ways that Campus Unit Finance Leads (CU Financial Leads) could efficiently determine the most cost-effective purchasing method. Subject matter experts were gathered on a design team that spent many hours brainstorming and developing tools to help campus employees make the best purchasing decisions. CU Finance Leads spent many hours working with unit leaders and internal stakeholders to educate and train them on the tools. My role was to work closely with the CU Finance Leads by providing data and suggestions about how to use the tools to reduce the number of unnecessary campus vouchers. We conducted daily war room calls to discuss the details of the data and then the CU Finance Leads assigned priority interventions that were used to shepherd the initiative, ultimately achieving great success in reducing the total number of unnecessary campus vouchers. As continuous process improvement is always going to be an important goal, this will be an ongoing process.
What do you like most about your work?
An extremely rewarding part of my job is being able to share my work knowledge and what I have learned over the years with others. More importantly, the knowledge and experience that I have gained from others helped me to grow professionally. The Operational Excellence and Early Impact Procurement Project enabled me to work with other folks from all of the major campus units. This networking opportunity allowed me to not only learn more about the individuals in those units, but it gave me a great appreciation for how unique each unit is, simply because of their diverse operations and the number of departments we have on campus. Purchasing Services has several new employees that have joined in the last year or so, and I really enjoy being able to share my knowledge and experience with them as well. Lastly, I enjoy being able to push myself outside of my comfort zone so that I can learn something new.
What is something people probably wouldn’t know about you, or another fun item you’d like to share?
I have a fraternal twin; he’s older by seven minutes. I am an outdoor enthusiast. My least favorite time of year is summer, due to the heat and humidity. I love Disney World and roller coasters. Lastly, on my bucket list is to travel across America with my wife when I retire.