It's a labor intensive process, beginning with WAICU's 20 members contemplating, among other topics:
Once a priority is identified, WAICU asks members what the ideal outcome is for them, not just in price but in terms of a useful product.
"They know we are working for their best interests." WAICU aims for continuous quality improvement, such as adding new items to an office supplies contract.
WAICU, the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, received congressional funding for several years in a row to work on a collaboration project that put all the back-end functions of its 20 members on the table.
In the first year, WAICU estimates the schools saved a combined total of $3.5 million on healthcare costs.
"What we're migrating toward is a single system operated, staffed and implemented by the association," says Rolf Wegenke, CEO of WAICU. "Because of the complexity it's taken us awhile, but the potential for savings is enormous."