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2019 Operational Excellence award winners
2019 Operational Excellence Award winners at a reception in September 2019.  From left: Interim Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz; Senior Vice Provost for Business Operations Rick Wernowski; Operational Excellence Award winners John Medlin, Dani Burns, Rich Arnold and Sara Reese; Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Robert A. Blouin.
(Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

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. In fact, he was recently recognized with an Operational Excellence Leadership award for his work with the Operational Excellence Early Impact Procurement project. 

The project launched nearly a year ago with the objective to drive 95% of University purchases under $250 to the most efficient purchasing method. The team had two goals to make this happen. First, they identified and targeted campus vouchers being submitted for $250 and less. For example, small purchases of goods and services were often made from various vendors by campus employees who were then reimbursed. Reimbursing an employee by campus voucher costs the University between $50 to $200 in administrative hours for processing plus the cost of the actual goods or services. In addition, with employee reimbursement through campus voucher, the University loses the ability to track spend by vendor or specific category. The second goal was to develop ways that Campus Unit Finance Leads could efficiently determine the most cost-effective purchasing method. Subject matter experts formed a design team that spent many hours developing Procurement Processing Tools to help campus employees make the best purchasing decisions. Leads met with their unit leaders and internal stakeholders to educate and train them on the tools.

Medlin’s role was to work closely with the Leads by providing data and suggestions about how to use the tools to reduce the number of unnecessary campus vouchers.

“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 has enabled me to grow professionally,” Medlin shares when asked about the award. By all accounts, the project has been successful, and the number of unnecessary campus vouchers has sharply declined.  In a recent month, 88% of transactions totaling less than $250 were processed using one of the preferred payment methods, including purchasing card, eProcurement and purchase orders.

“The Operational Excellence and Early Impact Procurement Project enabled me to work with other folks from all of the major campus units, which allowed me to not only learn more about the individuals in those units, but gave me a great appreciation for how unique each unit is simply because of their diverse operations and number of departments,” says Medlin.

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