How sharing a digital marketplace pays off across campus

Three Connecticut colleges see savings, improved processes in joint digital marketplace
By: | Issue: November/December, 2019
November 7, 2019
digital marketplaceCONNECTIONS PAY OFF—The digital collections at Connecticut College’s Charles E. Shain Library are part of a successful sharing relationship with two other higher ed institutions in the state.

Many higher ed institutions are reaping positive results from sharing technology, with departments finding opportunities to collaborate on resources, software and more. Such partnerships can lead to broader shared services initiatives.

Trinity College, Connecticut College and Wesleyan University, all in Connecticut, have shared library resources for several years. Leaders of the three libraries collaborated to build out collections without duplication, which allowed them to leverage memberships and gain the best pricing for annual subscriptions to research journals and other academic resources, says Christopher Rust, director of purchasing at Connecticut College.

Administrators have also looked to offer shared services in other areas.

In 2017, a $10,000 grant supported the creation of a repository where the institutions could tap into shared resources and have more uniform access to records. Dubbed CTW OneSource, the digital marketplace now provides a more streamlined process for employees to purchase goods and services from 30 shared suppliers.

“We wanted to leverage existing contracts,” says Rust. “Together, three small institutions have much more leverage in negotiations.”

The e-marketplace includes nationally awarded contracts from consortia such as E&I Cooperative Services, Sourcewell and OMNIA Partners. But the proprietary CTW OneSource also uses local and regional suppliers that are not on any consortia contracts, allowing for improved pricing agreements with these common suppliers, says Rust.

The e-marketplace, powered by Unimarket, also stores all vendor contracts in one searchable location. This is helpful for thorough data collection and for future contract negotiations, says Rust. Branding is universal on CTW OneSource, so the user interface
is uniform.

And if interest from other colleges is any indication, CTW OneSource may serve as a model for other college partners. Rust says, “A number of institutions that have a history of strong collaboration are carefully reviewing the work being done by CTW in an effort to determine if this is a possible venture worth undertaking with their partner institutions.”