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June/July 2014

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Supplier Diversity

UPMC is growing its supplier diversity program

Diverse companies interested in doing business with this nonprofit health giant can register for future opportunities on the UPMC web portal


The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) is the largest non-government employer in Pennsylvania. This global nonprofit health enterprise has more than 62,000 employees in 400 clinical locations. It has a 2.3 million-member health insurance division, as well as commercial and international ventures. UPMC is closely affiliated with its academic partner, the University of Pittsburgh.

UPMC was an early adopter of electronic health records and the interoperability solutions that tie them together. Its clinical and technological capabilities are enhanced by relationships with partners like General Electric, IBM and Oracle.

“Our diverse suppliers provide a range of technical services that include IT and software, forms and printing, call center services, staffing, vendor credentialing services, consulting, court reporting, language services, medical records and telecommunications,” says Toni Y. Silva, director of supplier relations for supply chain management.

The UPMC supplier diversity program began in 1989 and has grown to provide minority-owned, women-owned, and disadvantaged businesses (MWDBEs) “equal access to procurement opportunities,” she says. “The program ensures that certified MWDBEs are provided the maximum opportunity to participate as partners and suppliers of goods and services to UPMC.”

Process for procurement
Eight percent of UPMC’s procurement dollars are spent with minority and women-owned suppliers. “This is a forty-one percent increase since my tenure with UPMC began in 2006,” Silva says.

UPMC recruits MWDBEs from a variety of sources. It participates in trade shows, seminars and activities of major organizations such as the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), the African-American Chamber of Commerce, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the National Veteran-Owned Business Association, the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), and the Eastern Minority Supplier Development Council.

“Although UPMC does receive cold calls and e-mails from potential suppliers, we have a defined process for engaging MWDBEs. Once an MWDBE registers online and a representative submits a copy of its MWDBE certification, the company is vetted. If the supplier is accepted into our program, we act as a referral service to UPMC supply chain management (SCM) on their behalf,” Silva says. “The process validates that their products and services meet our needs.”

She explains that as business opportunities for particular products and services become available within SCM, qualified MWDBEs in the program are invited to bid.

Diverse suppliers who are interested in the program can contact UPMC at upmc.com/about/partners/supply-chain/pages/supplier-diversity.aspx.

UPMC recognizes certifications from accredited national, state and local certifying agencies, including NMSDC, WBENC, and the Pennsylvania Unified Certification Program.

Growing relationships with vendors
The UPMC minority business development initiative is part of its supplier diversity program. The program helps MWDBEs to grow their businesses and gives them access to education, training, networking and mentoring opportunities, Silva explains. The initiative’s primary focus is to increase opportunity, business and spend with MWDBEs system-wide and to build the capacity of these businesses.

“Through this initiative, we formally and informally mentor minority businesses in the program,” she notes. “In our formal mentoring program, implemented in 2010, twelve MWDBEs were mentored by twelve UPMC executive sponsors for a year. It was a major success. Several executives have continued to mentor these businesses on an informal basis.”

UPMC requires that its prime suppliers report all diversity spending associated with UPMC contracts. If needed, UPMC will help them develop diversity programs of their own. “UPMC recognizes that our diverse business partners provide high-quality, cost-competitive products and services,” Silva says. “These businesses enhance our supply chain and increase our competitive edge in the marketplace.”

The supplier diversity program also improves the economic development of MWDBEs by helping them establish and sustain successful business partnerships with UPMC, and is viewed as a vehicle for economic development in the region, she adds.

Creating a credentialing service
“When UPMC needed a vendor credentialing service, it entered into a joint venture with a minority software business. A vendor credentialing system was developed and is now utilized throughout UPMC,” Silva says. “Our vendors and vendor sales representatives can pre-register their credentials for facility access, and our healthcare facilities can monitor, track and manage all vendor access and certifications. The supplier ensures and supports operational excellence through security solutions that are dependable, efficient and cost-effective.”

According to Silva, the UPMC supplier diversity program is successful because it enjoys executive support and leadership, benefits from the integration of supplier diversity into the supply chain management process, and has developed a roster of qualified, cost-competitive MWDBE suppliers who deliver on their contracts.


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