Since last summer, the Operational Excellence website has been featuring a series of staff spotlights: stories about staff members who’ve taken on new leadership roles since the implementation of OE2C and are helping bring more innovation and efficiency to campus operations. Read more SMU staff spotlights
Abby Kinney has made a career out of efficient technology purchasing. During the shared services restructuring in 2015, she became the University’s IT category manager in the Purchasing Department, but her connection to SMU and coordinating technology purchases has a decades-long history.
“I graduated from SMU in 1986 with my BBS in Accounting and went to work with a regional investment securities firm as an analyst supporting the research group,” says Kinney. “I soon transitioned to helping with the purchase, installation and support of all their computers. I eventually moved to managing a team that supported the computers, phone systems and services, and data services for the main office and 42 branch offices.”
Kinney came back to SMU in February 1995 and started as a desktop support consultant as part of Project Pegasus, an initiative that issued desktop computers to all faculty and staff. “I completed my master’s in MIS in 1996,” she says. “I eventually became manager and then director for the User Services team and was responsible for buying computer technology for half of the University after the campus computer store closed in 2013. During the OE2C project, I participated in the Purchasing Initiative, and when the possibility of centralizing technology purchasing came up, it was something I definitely wanted to be part of.”
In her current role, she purchases technology-related hardware for the entire campus (desktops, laptops, displays and accessories), tracks technology spending for the University and assists with RFPs for hardware, software and tech maintenance. Though she has moved from OIT to Purchasing, she still works closely with her former department.
“I have learned a lot about how the entire Purchasing team helps the campus with the procurement of the variety of goods and services the University uses, how the RFP process works, and how the IT procurement role can benefit the campus,” says Kinney. “The most significant advantage is the cost savings that we have been able to help SMU realize by purchasing the University standard computers in volume for the ongoing computer refresh process, saving more than $100,000 in FY17.”
Kinney says another key advantage of the structure is increased awareness about technology savings that helps individual departments spend their budgets wisely. “I get to continue working with everyone on campus to help them with their technology needs and ultimately help the University save money.”
As for challenges, the biggest one has been “keeping up with the demand, especially around fiscal year-end and the start of each semester,” she says. “Since moving to Purchasing, I now buy for the entire campus and the number of items I purchase each year has doubled, to more than 6000 items annually.”
Going forward, Kinney says there are many process improvements she would like to make in the technology purchasing process. “In partnership with OIT, I’d love to create a website with all purchasing information and Technology Fund eligibility details, create a web-based order form to help guide people through the ordering process, and provide more visibility to the purchaser on the status of an order in process.
“I’d also like to look more strategically at Technology purchases to see if SMU can realize any additional savings with software licensing and maintenance contracts. I’m proud of the cost savings we’ve established so far, and look forward to making them even better.”