Frequently Asked Questions
- How do I find UCL Contracted Suppliers?
Go to the procurement website: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/procurement/ and select ‘UCL Contracted Suppliers’ on the left hand menu options. You will need your UCL ID and password to get into the site. There is a list of categories.
Click on the desired category to see the supplier(s) for your selected category
- What should I do if I find a product or service that is cheaper from a non-contracted supplier?
Occasionally it may be possible to get a quote which appears to be lower than that from a contracted supplier. Typical reasons include:
- Other cost factors such as maintenance, consumables, delivery, installation and disposal have not been included
- Different service costs – a supplier maybe able to have lower service costs for a one-off but could not service the whole of UCL consistently
- Loss leader
- Different quality and/or standard – the product may not meet UCL’s requirements for quality, health & safety compliance and sustainability
After taking into account the above factors consider if the price difference is it significant both in percentage terms and absolutely. If the price of the item is minimal you may wish to review if any potential savings outweigh the cost of you are wasting your time checking the price
If the price difference is significant tell the contracted supplier. UCL contracted suppliers are expected to match or better non-contracted supplier lower prices. If the contracted supplier agrees that the quality of the lower price quoted product or service is the same as theirs and they are unable to match the price please notify the relevant Procurement Manager before proceeding. In some cases the Procurement Manager will authorise use of a non-contracted supplier however it is imperative that the Procurement Manager is consulted before any order is placed.
- How do I find the name of a supplier contract manager?
Go to the procurement website: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/procurement/ and select ‘UCL Contracted Suppliers’ on the left hand menu options. Select the category then the supplier you are interested in. Click on the supplier’s name, the contract details page will open which will include the name of the contract manager.
- How do I complain to a supplier?
Please send an email to the supplier’s UCL Account manager and copy in the relevant UCL procurement manager (This will be shown on the first page of the supplier page)
- A supplier has told me that they are a UCL preferred supplier, how can I check this?
Go to the procurement website: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/procurement/ and select ‘UCL Contracted Suppliers’ on the left hand menu options.
Select the category of the supplier
UCL has ‘contracted’ suppliers not ‘preferred’ suppliers all of whom have been through a competitive selection process by Procurement Services. These are suppliers who we have formal contracts or agreements with in line with UCL Financial Regulations. There are many other suppliers who are on the MYFINANCE system who are not contracted to UCL. These are not in any way ‘preferred’ or ‘approved’.
In addition you could always check if the supplier is on the FIS system. How to do this will depend on the (MYFINANCE) responsibilities that you have. Select ‘PO Enquiry’ and then ‘Suppliers’
- A supplier has asked me to sign an agreement/contract, what should I do?
Do not sign, refer the matter to Procurement.
It is a common tactic for sales people to ask you to sign something quickly, typically at a week or month end. They may dangle an inducement such as” x% discount if you sign by this afternoon". Disregard this; it is generally a sales tactic which may not be true. Ask them in put the offer in writing and tell them that you have to talk with procurement before anything can be signed. Avoid being explicit about who can sign.
- What are the differences between Procurement and Purchasing?
Different people will mean different things in asking this question.
Procurement’s core function is to obtain best value on the goods and services that UCL purchases. We do this by negotiating contracts for goods and services. For the majority of what is purchased we are obliged to follow the EU Public Procurement Regulations. The principals of the regulations are to ensure transparency and fairness in all public contracts.
Value seems to be not well understood. A lot of users focus on cost price ignoring the other cost factors such as maintenance, running costs and disposal costs. In addition issues such as the terms and conditions of contract are not considered. Some users even ignore the basis of purchase, seeking to buy goods ex-works in India, China or USA comparing this price with a price which includes delivery and installation at UCL.
So what does this mean for departments:-
- Contracts for the main re-current goods & services which UCL buys will be negotiated by Procurement
- Purchases of one off items such as equipment should be referred to procurement
- Procurement has very limited resources and we have to prioritise our work flow. In consequence there may not be contracts for all the goods and services you may expect.
- Procurement services manage recurrent contracts.
- If you experience problems with service you should let us know – contract management is dependent on departmental feedback
The Financial System used by UCL is Oracle Financials. This is known locally as FIS (Financial Information System). The system is currently undergoing a major upgrade (Abacus), which is expected to go live in August 2014.
MYFINANCE is a comprehensive electronic purchase order platform (among other things). It enables users to place orders and then send orders electronically
The team who run MYFINANCE are part of the Information Systems Division.
Used in conjunction with MYFINANCE is Science Warehouse. This is a portal which shows the agreed catalogues from some of our contracted suppliers. Users experience this as part of the system. Suppliers on Science Warehouse will be on catalogue while orders for any other supplier will be non-catalogue orders.
So what does this mean for departments:-
- Purchase orders are all raised on-line on MYFINANCE
- All orders are sent electronically
- Orders for catalogue items are sent via Science Warehouse
- Items from suppliers on Science Warehouse which are not included in the catalogue must be ordered as ‘Non-Catalogue Lines’.
- Problems with the ordering system should be raised with the MYFINANCE helpdesk
- Queries about Science Warehouse Catalogue content or pricing should be raised with Procurement
- Why does procurement need to get the UCL set of terms agreed with the supplier?
There are a number of reasons why it is important to protect ourselves against supplier terms. These are:
- Should the goods be faulty or damages we may want to replace or get new goods. Most supplier terms trying to remove this right!
- Shipping charges and duty – we request that the goods are shipped DDP from the supplier. This removes having to pay for additional duties and shipping charges. But also supports the college B2B process of making sure purchase orders and invoices match.
- Title in the goods – most suppliers retains the title in the goods until all payments have been paid. In law this means that we never own the goods. Therefore in our terms we request the supplier give us title to the goods when they are delivered to UCL.
- Indemnity – supplier normally cap this to the cost of the contract. However should a member of UCL become injury due to the goods being faulty we request the supplier to indemnify UCL. This means we can sue the supplier for damages to person, property and losses.
- I want to find a contractor for development/design, content management of a website or creation of a mobile application. I cannot find a suitable contracted supplier listed on the Procurement website. What do I do?
Information on websites, apps and databases is provided by ISD. http://www.ucl.ac.uk/isd/services/websites-apps
There is some in-house support to for website development so please check your requirements with the team first. They will also be able to advise on the suppliers which can be used if they are not able to provide the service themselves. The team can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are a number of issues which need to be considered when using external suppliers, including information security and data protection, intellectual property, web standards, licensing and contract terms.
It is recommended that you consult with the Information Security Team before you start your project. Failure to deal adequately with information security can result in fines and loss of reputation to UCL.
- I want to buy a PC/Laptop/Tablet computer and can't find it in the catalogue on MyFinance marketplace?
UCL has access to a number of different manufacturers via national framework https://www.ucl.ac.uk/procurement/agreements/desktops-laptops
Some Dell equipment is available via a punch-out catalogue on the Science Warehouse which is accessed via MYFINANCE. You will need to check with the MYFINANCE helpdesk if you do not have the correct access. This will give you access to the Dell Premier page and from there you will be able to select items, including customised products as well as retrieve equotes.
A number of the resellers (Misco, XMA and Softcat) also have catalogues on the marketplace and some of the most common standard laptops they supply will be available in their catalogue. For customised items, you may still need to email the suppliers to obtain an offline quote – there is a link to generate an email with all the relevant addresses on the “How to Order” tab. Once you have selected the quote you wish to proceed with, a non-catalogue order can be raised in MyFinance.
- I want to buy a PC/Laptop computer from a manufacturer who is not listed on the framework
It is recommended that you purchase only the approved brands of PC’s from the suppliers listed on the procurement website https://www.ucl.ac.uk/procurement/agreements/desktops-laptops
These suppliers supply business specification machines which are backed up by 3 year warranties etc. in the event that anything goes wrong with the equipment. They will be familiar with UCL requirements and can provide additional services like asset tagging and imaging should this be required.
If you are considering non-standard equipment, you may also want to check with your departmental IT manager to see whether they can either source it for you or recommend an alternative (there may be an equivalent spec machine from an approved supplier). You will also need to check that they are happy to support the equipment if it is not a standard brand. Finally you should check that you have a 3 year warranty as many suppliers do not offer this.
- I want to buy a PC/Laptop and don't know what specification I need
ISD Purchasing have lots of useful information on their webpage http://www.ucl.ac.uk/isd/services/software-hardware/hardware-purchasing
Details relating to Desktop@UCL and how to order is available at https://www.ucl.ac.uk/isd/services/software-hardware/hardware-purchasing/isd-services
If your department does not use Desktop@UCL or ISD services, then a number of standard models are also recommended on the ISD Purchasing website https://www.ucl.ac.uk/isd/services/software-hardware/hardware-purchasing/non-isd-services
If you are not sure what you need, you want to purchase a PC/Laptop/Tablet which is not available from any of the approved suppliers or you need a different specification than the examples listed on the website, then ISD Purchasing can advise on the most suitable equipment to meet your requirements, arrange for a quotation and can place the order for you so it is worth contacting them in the first instance - contact the IT purchasing team
You may also want to check with your departmental IT manager to see whether they can either source it for you or recommend an alternative (there may be an equivalent spec machine from an approved supplier). You will also need to check that they are happy to support the equipment if it is not a standard brand. Finally you should check that you have a 3 year warranty as many suppliers do not offer this.
- I've seen a PC/Laptop computer in the local shop, can I purchase this there and claim the money back via expenses?
Information on the expenses policy is here http://www.ucl.ac.uk/finance/policies-procedures/expenses-policy.
Generally, computer equipment cannot be claimed back via expenses http://www.ucl.ac.uk/finance/policies-procedures/accordion-expenses/2-scope.
More detail on exclusions can be found here http://www.ucl.ac.uk/finance/policies-procedures/accordion-expenses/annex-2
- I want to purchase Apple Equipment, why do I have to use resellers and why can't I go directly to Apple?
Apple decided not to bid for the National Apple Agreement. As a result the contract only contains resellers. See further information at https://www.ucl.ac.uk/procurement/agreements/computer-equip-suppliers/apple
- I want to purchase some software, how can I do this?
In the first instance check the ISD webpage and software database to see if UCL already has it http://www.ucl.ac.uk/isd/services/software-hardware
If the software does not exist, then you will need to comply with UCL Financial Regulations and seek competition as relevant. http://www.ucl.ac.uk/finance/policies-procedures/accordion-financial-regs/accordion-7-fin-regs/supplier-selection/
There are a number of issues which need to be considered when purchasing software, including information security and data protection, intellectual property, support and maintenance, licensing and contract terms.
It is recommended that you consult with the Information Security Team before you purchase your software. Failure to deal adequately with information security can result in fines and loss of reputation to UCL.
Software licensing can be complicated and can result in UCL being exposed to financial risk through poor contract terms or insufficient or inadequate licensing. It is recommended that you discuss our requirements with Procurement Services who can advise on the procurement.
Laboratories and Workshops
- I can't find a chemical that I want on the marketplace what do I do?
As UCL needs to be home office compliant for chemicals please contact Sigma or Insight Bio to source these items on our behalf. Both these suppliers are approved and can provide the data we need for the home office return.
For more info please see third party sourcing of chemicals
- Does UCL hold a duty free license to purchase duty free products (ethanol and methanol)?
Please be advised that UCL does not hold a duty license centrally. Departments requiring duty free products must supply for a licenser via her majesties customs. Please see the link below:
If you do not hold a license you will be required to pay duty at the point of order, if you are entitled to claim duty products by holding a license you will need to submit this license notice number or license copy to the supplier at point of purchase.
- Can I buy a domestic fridge/freezer to store my tissue and reagents in?
Please be advised domestic fridges/freezers are not spark free, domestic fridges and freezers also do not have temperature controlled sections therefore the temperature in a compartment can fluctuate between the front and back of the fridge/freezer. This is not suitable for storing tissue samples or reagents. We recommend that you purchase laboratory fridges/freezers approved suppliers at : https://www.ucl.ac.uk/procurement/agreements/small-bench
- What shipping code should I use for shipping goods outside the UK?
If you are buying an equipment from outside the UK, you need to make sure that the supplier has quoted DDP in the cost of the quotation. DDP means delivery duty paid, this means the equipment is shipped from the supplier directly to UCL without having to be stopped in customs to pay shipping charges, insurance and duty.
All shipments should include DDP. Otherwise you would have to pay for insurance, shipping and duty coming in to the UK.
New Supplier Requests
- I want to set up a new supplier, how do I do this?
It is worth checking whether there is an existing supplier or framework agreement which can meet your needs first. https://www.ucl.ac.uk/procurement/agreements
If you find you do require a new supplier, information on setting them up on MyFinance can be found here http://www.ucl.ac.uk/finance/purchasing/new-suppliers
- How long will it take to process my New Supplier Request Form?
All requests go to the New Supplier Team. When referred to Procurement Services for approval, it will be assessed by Procurement Services within 4 working days. Occasionally it may take longer than this, for example when there is insufficient information on the request form to assess the requirement or where terms and conditions need to be agreed.
In these instances, the requestor will be contacted by Procurement Services who will follow up the requirements with the requester.
Once approved by Procurement Services, the request goes back to the New Supplier Team to set it up on MyFinance within 2 working days – their SLA’s are here http://www.ucl.ac.uk/finance/purchasing/ap-service-standards
- How do I add or amend a company?
If you wish to add or amend a company or self employed individual's site address, please email New Suppliers as usual (these will be processed within 2 working days).
- I want to use a consultant to provide services for a special piece of work, what terms do I need to put in place?
For low value or routine projects, UCL Standard Terms and Conditions can be used. http://www.ucl.ac.uk/procurement/documents/docs-terms/UCL-Combined-Goods-and-services
However it is important that you check the trading status of your supplier as this may impact which contract terms should be issued to the supplier. Contact Procurement Services if you are not sure. There may be tax implications for UCL if the supplier is not properly assessed.
There are three types of supplier to consider, each requiring different terms:
Sole Trader - a single person trading under their own name, from their home address with no employees. You will also need to complete a Self Employment Questionnaire and Application Form (word). Special Sole Trader Terms are available from Procurement Services.
Personal Services Company (PSC) – usually a single person trading under a limited company. They are shown as the director of the company and may use their home address. You must contact your HR Business Advisor if using one of these suppliers as they require an assessment due to new legislation – see guidance. Special PSC Terms are available from Procurement Services.
Standard Company – trading as a limited company or LLP, with a number of employees and directors. UCL Services terms are available from Procurement Services.