Fostering Innovation and Driving Value across Ontario’s Public Sector through a Success Sharing Initiative

December 19, 2023

A look at how OECM is leading the charge with a $10 million investment fund that is accelerating cross-sector partnerships and collaborative procurement projects for Ontario’s education and municipal sectors.

Innovation can come from anywhere. Innovative ideas may be layered and complex or simple and easy to execute, but truly innovative ideas have the potential to accelerate growth, improve processes, and drive transformation across organizations.

OECM sees first-hand the value that innovative ideas can bring to the public sector. As the trusted collaborative sourcing partner to over 1,300 customers across the education sector, municipalities, and broader public sector, we have implemented a unique program aimed at helping sectors prioritize, facilitate, and accelerate vital initiatives focused on innovation and transformation.

five people with their hands cupped around the bottom of a plant

OECM’s Sector Success Sharing (SSS) Program

Taking the concept of customer relationship management and business development for the betterment of the public sector a step further, OECM’s Sector Success Sharing (SSS) program is distinctly redefining value. The SSS comes with some tremendous benefits as we work closely with the sectors we serve to explore how collaboration and strategic partnerships can foster innovation.

Initially made available to the three education sectors – School Boards, Colleges and Universities – the SSS initiative was expanded to include the municipal sector in 2022. As of December 31, 2022, OECM’s Board of Directors had endorsed a total of $8.4 million for the Sector Success Sharing (SSS) reserve fund, all earmarked for reinvestment into Ontario’s education and municipal sectors. On December 18, 2023, the Board approved an increase of $1.6 million, bringing the SSS reserve fund to an impressive total amount of $10 million.

John Sabo, OECM’s President and CEO, explains: “OECM’s Sector Success Sharing reserve allows for surplus funds, generated through collaborative spend on OECM contracts that are not required by OECM for operational expenditures, to be set aside and invested back into the sectors we serve.”

He adds that “funds are dispersed at the discretion of sector-specific business administration coordinating groups and associations, including the Council of Ontario Directors of Education (CODE), Council of Ontario Senior Business Officials (COSBO), Colleges Ontario (CO), Administrative Services Coordinating Committee (ASCC), Council of Ontario Universities (COU), Council of Senior Administrative Officers (CSAO) and the Municipal Finance Officers’ Association (MFOA). The initiatives supported are beneficial across the sectors because they dive deeper into important priorities for all – technological advancement, data management, process and enhancement, and much more. This program is just one example of how we strive to differentiate ourselves from other group purchasing organizations. By investing in these initiatives, OECM is driving value and demonstrating leadership in the public sector.”

Prioritizing Initiatives that Focus on Collaboration in the Education Sector

aerial view of children at desks on laptops and tablets in a classroom

For the education sector, the SSS supports a wide range of projects that span Information Technology, Data Harmonization, and Learning Tools and Portals – all focused on harnessing the power of collaboration to support student and educational excellence.

To get a sense of what is being prioritized, recent education sector projects include an Enterprise Resources Planning (ERP) procurement initiative for School Boards, a Sustainable Procurement Program/Framework for Ontario Colleges, specifically, the Ontario Colleges Purchasing Managers Association (OCPMA),  and a strategic partnership with the Ontario University Procurement Professionals Management Association (OUPPMA) to establish a “Common Commodity Code” framework that will help participating Universities codify how they identify products that they purchase.

In dialogue with OECM education sector customers, several emerging areas for transformation have been highlighted, including Facilities, IT Hardware, support for change management, data management, project management functions, and exploration into systemic and strategic issues such as how AI is addressed across sectors. OECM believes it is in our best interest collectively to harness opportunities that help facilitate exploration and innovation, and our customers agree that the impact is significant.

Brian Jeffs, Executive Director of the Council of Senior Business Officials (COSBO), and member of OECM’s Customer Council Committee representing the School Board Sector, notes, “OECM’s Sector Success Sharing funding has been the catalyst for several transformational projects and initiatives across our sector. There is immense value to be gained through cross-sector and even cross-regional collaborations within the education sector. Collaboration is essential to create greater efficiencies and streamlining of work so that the focus for educators can remain directly on educating students.”

Innovation and transformation are critical goals for the post-secondary education sector as well. One way to approach these priorities is by recognizing the value of drawing on collaborative partners and their specific areas of expertise to support transformation and advancement.

lecture room with person raising their hand

“Continued investment and research into technological innovation is crucial and will make a fundamental difference in the post-secondary space moving forward,” says Sanjay Puri, Vice President, Administration and Chief Financial Officer at Humber College Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning, and member of OECM’s Customer Council Committee representing the College Sector. “A prime innovation project supported by OECM’s Sector Success Sharing reserve fund is the Skills Trades Training Systems Solutions venture with the Ontario College Application Service (OCAS), which focuses on developing solutions to attract and enroll learners across Ontario’s colleges while simultaneously building a data analytics foundation that will help the sector gain insights to enable other new services and make better connections between people, ideas, emerging technology, and opportunities.”

Steve Orsini, President and CEO of the Council of Ontario Universities (COU), adds: “Complex initiatives typically require greater collaboration amongst partners to drive short-term benefits and long-term efficiencies. This is where OECM’s Sector Success Sharing initiative has helped the university sector finance major transformation and efficiency initiatives such as the Space Optimization/Modernization initiative, Open Data project, and the Procurement Data Harmonization project, which will help create a consistent classification of procurement items and identify future areas of joint procurement. These, in addition to other key projects, will build on the long history of collaboration among universities to develop shared services and joint procurement.”

Sector Success Sharing Supporting Municipal Priorities

scenic view of a lake surrounded by forrest

Municipal priorities may differ from the education sector, but there is agreement across the board that learnings gained through cross-sector collaboration are invaluable. Everyone benefits from sharing ideas and leveraging collective resources and expertise, as ideas are what drive the adoption of new technologies and solutions that in turn deliver tangible benefits for all citizens in their communities.

Focusing on municipal interests, SSS funding has been directed to support projects and initiatives that help build strategic alliances and improve processes across municipalities. These include targeted sessions and conferences to benefit Northern Municipalities in Sudbury and Thunder Bay, and the development of dedicated Asset Management resources and modules, educational videos and other strategic planning priorities most relevant to this sector.

To date, OECM has provided support for over 18 initiatives through SSS funding.

Collaborative Events

In addition to the SSS reserve, OECM also dispenses funds into its Sector Collaborative Events reserve, which is used to support several innovative and collaborative Customer, Supplier and Staff Appreciation and Recognition initiatives, including OECM-hosted sector events. Since 2019, this has included the delivery of two Ontario Education Sector Leadership & Collaboration Networking Symposiums (hosted in 2019 and 2021), which offered senior leaders from Ontario’s educational institutions a unique opportunity to meet face-to-face, share ideas, and discuss opportunities for collaboration with each other and amongst the School Board, College, and University sectors.

speakers at a podium in front of a group of attendees

In June 2023, OECM hosted its first-ever College and University Procurement Summit and the 2nd Annual Invitational Customer and Supplier Charity Golf Tournament. In October 2023, OECM hosted its inaugural Facilities Summit. Plans are currently underway to host OECM’s third Leadership and Collaboration Symposium in February 2024, which is designed to facilitate networking and collaboration amongst senior leaders from across the education, municipal, healthcare, and other broader public sectors.

Initiatives like the SSS and our Collaborative Events bring added value that complements OECM’s key offerings of value, savings, choice, and service; and they continue to demonstrate that OECM is the premier customer-driven supply management partner for Ontario’s broader public sector.

For more information about OECM or the Sector Success Sharing (SSS) initiative and projects underway,  please contact our dedicated Customer Support team at OECM Customer Support or 1-844-OECM-900 (1-844-632-6900).

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