Computer Equipment Ordering Procedure

Considering that the entire Department of Astronomy purchases approximately $250,000 worth of computer related items annually, it is important to have a set of procedures in place to ensure that the items are ordered efficiently, and to help track outstanding orders. This document covers the steps that the Department of Astronomy IT Staff follow for the procurement of computer related items, and the follow-up procedures to make sure the item is delivered.

Verify

Verification involves the following steps.

Suitability
Verify that the item will meet the needs of the person requesting it. Is the component compatible with their existing equipment? Will additional adapters be needed? Will it function as expected, or is there another product that will better suit the needs of the requestor?

Price and vendor
Verify the price with the vendor. Check with other vendors (GovConn, etc) to see if the product is available at a better price point.

Funding Approval
What account will pay for this item? If it is an expense that should be charged to the department, verify with the Office Manager that there is adequate funding to cover the item (get approval). If it is billed to a grant, verify with either the Office Manager or Grants Manager that there is adequate funding in the grant to cover the amount.

Placing the Order

If the item is less than $2000 it may be purchased on a P-Card once funding approval has been obtained. This is the simplest, quickest, and most efficient method of obtaining an item.

For items that cost more than $1999.99, a purchase-order must be generated. The steps involved in generating a purchase order are as follows:

Please note, at some future point we will be able to generate a PO Request through My-UFL Marketplace.

If the item is a rush order, and costs enough that a PO would normally be required to procure it, it may be possible to use a departmental P-Card to purchase the item, but only after special approval from Purchasing has been granted. This will require the coordination of the IT staff, the Office Manager, and central purchasing.

Tracking the Order

Whether the item was ordered with a P-Card, or PO, the purchase should be tracked. We use the chalk board in 221A to track the current orders in the pipeline.

For each item ordered, the following information is placed on the board:

Description, Company Ordered From, Date Ordered, Who it was ordered for, And the person placing the order. If it is an item for the department (toner, for example), then we do not need to specify the "who".

Example:

The above example shows KS ordered a Tesla C2050 from JRTI on 2/24/2010.

Some vendors, notably Apple, have the ability to send an email alert with information on the expected delivery date. I have contacted Dell to find out if they have the ability to provide this information as well.

Order Received

Deliver the item to the person requesting, remove the item from the board, and deliver the invoice to the Office Manager or Fiscal Assistant.

Order NOT Received

Sometimes the order process takes awhile. Generating a PO at certain times of the year, such as between the end of May to mid-June when UF is closing the books and generating several PO's before fiscal year end, is sometimes slower than normal. As such, it must be understood that it is not uncommon for an order that requires a PO to take as much as a month, or more, to be delivered. However, if the order has not been delivered after five weeks, it is time to start looking into the process to see what the delay is.

First, verify that the PO has indeed been generated. This can be done internally, and should have been done as part of the steps required to generate a PO.

Next, contact the vendor to verify that they have indeed received the PO. If they have received it, inquire as to when they expect to ship the item. If they have not received it, try to get them a copy of the PO.

Next, verify the expected ship date and the ship-to address. There have been times where items ordered were delivered to CNS and were left sitting in the CNS mail room.

If there is a hold-up due to a manufacturing or assembly delay, see if it is possible to get the order expedited by changing the component list.

Special Orders / Urgent Requests

It is important that each person requesting an item takes some responsibility to make sure that ample lead time is provided so the item can be procured to meet your schedule. You must plan ahead. If the item that is being purchased must arrive by a certain deadline, you need to let us know about that deadline in advance. However, we understand that sometimes emergencies crop up, and under those circumstances we may be able to help, but we often are limited by those aforementioned details that require lead time.

Items <$2000
For items that can be purchased with a P-Card (less than $2000), we can often order them with next-day shipping once we have been given approval from the front office. Of course, the requestor will need to pick up any applicable freight and rush order charges.

Items >$1999.99
Unfortunately, items that cost $2000 or more require a PO. And PO's are a different matter entirely. Because of the various steps involved in generating a PO and getting it to a vendor, you should assume a four to five week turn-around time between the time any PO request is submitted and delivery of the item.

If the item costs more than the P-Card limit of $2000, and if this is truly an emergency, there are options. But those options are limited.

The quickest course of action would be to use a personal credit card and then seek reimbursement from the university. However, there is substantial paperwork involved with justifying this course of action after the fact, and so this should be considered the option of last resort; essentially the front office will need to put in for an expense reimbursement.

Other courses of action will be undertaken on a case-by-case basis.