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William Agosta, Saint Francis University

Saint Francis University, located in Loretto, PA, is a private, Catholic co-educational liberal arts University.  The Franciscans Friars of the Third Order Regular sponsor it.  The University offers undergraduate programs in the liberal arts tradition, graduate, doctoral and professional programs of study. Saint Francis can trace the seeds of its beginning to six Franciscan friars from Ireland who funded a boys’ academy in the mountain hamlet of Loretto, PA in 1847.  Saint Francis is the oldest Franciscan institution of higher learning in the United States.   Today, the University includes nine residence halls, a student union, classroom and administration buildings, athletic center, dining hall, library and chapel – all located on their 600-acre campus.  It has an enrollment of 2,084 students, most of whom are full-time students.   The Purchasing Department William (Bill) Agosta is the Purchasing Director for the University.  He has been with Saint Francis for over 20 years, originally joining the organization as a Purchasing Agent.  Within eighteen months of his employment, Bill became the University’s first Director of Purchasing.   Bill’s responsibilities include overseeing centralized purchasing functions and, as he puts it, “Helping stretch managers’ budgets…” He also oversees a staff of seven and has responsibility for the Purchasing Department, Printing Center, Mail Services, Campus Courier and Central Warehouse/Receiving.   Saint Francis centralized its purchasing function in 1990 to put consistency, order and accountability in the purchasing process.  Change did not come easily, but via the VP of Finance’s mandate, all requisitions henceforth had to flow through purchasing if the item’s value was greater than $250; purchases less than $250 could be handled with a Procurement Card (P Card).  Bill says, “It was a difficult but necessary transition which took employees a long time to accept.  With approximately 60 people in different departments ordering everything from pencils to cadavers, we had to get control of the process.   Saint Francis and Bellwether Software Partner After centralization, automation was next. We evaluated several software packages and found Bellwether Purchasing Software to have the functionality we needed at the price we could afford.  Bellwether really helped with our warehousing system, and we liked the cleaner, more appropriate method of conducting our business.  For instance, it used to take one week to process and order; now, we complete the order in the same day or the next day.   Since implementing Bellwether Purchasing Software, we have been able to streamline our business. We are able to handle all products and services, except for a very few, in house, representing an annual spend of $10 Millon.  The Purchasing Department draws from a vendor list of around 2,500 active vendors, and we produce approximately 2,000 purchase orders per year.   The Department is more efficient with Bellwether Purchasing Software.  We use the Requisitions, Purchasing, Receiving, Request for Quotations, Inventory and the A/P Interface modules, and we are currently in the process of upgrading to the latest Bellwether version.   Technical assistance from Bellwether is rarely required, but when it is, it is handled in a knowledgeable and timely manner.   Bellwether Purchasing Software is much more valuable than its cost.  It is user friendly and is an excellent fit for schools, colleges and universities.”  

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