MIT expects to save about $240,000 a year by reengineering the way the Institute obtains the services of secretarial and clerical temporary help. The change is scheduled to take effect by the end of February.
The change was recommended by the Supplier Consolidation Team, one of several at work in MIT's reengineering effort. The team will announce soon a schedule of workshops and seminars to discuss the new system.
The Reengineering Steering Committee, headed by Senior Vice President William R. Dickson, approved the recommendation after review and discussion at meetings in November and January.
In the past, MIT has used more than 30 temporary help agencies, with no unified way to monitor pricing, use or performance. The Supplier Consolidation Team's recommendation was to select a primary agency that will coordinate and support all of the Institute's needs for temporary secretarial and clerical services.
In addition to providing temporary help directly, this agency will subcontract with two of the Institute's present major suppliers, which provide MIT with about 70 percent of the temporary help currently at work here.
Because many secretarial and clerical "temps" are listed with more than one agency, the probability is good that most of the temporary help currently assigned to MIT will be able to continue working here, the team said.
"We realize that there will be special circumstances regarding the transition of current temporary employees from other agencies, and the implementation team will address those issues on a case-by-case basis," said the redesign team's captain and spokesperson, Diane M. Devlin, assistant director of purchasing.
The Institute spent about $1.7 million last year for temporary secretarial and clerical help. The change will meet the team's overall goal of reducing the cost of acquiring goods and services while improving MIT's procurement process.
The Supplier Consolidation Team's work required an understanding of the needs of the community, industry trends and supplier capabilities. The team determined that the process of supplier consolidation works best when the service or commodity is a large annual expense-usually greater than $1 million a year-and there are many firms that can supply the service. Temporary services met those criteria and therefore were one of the first projects of the Supplier Consolidation Team.
After evaluating proposals from a number of firms, team members recommended that Sterling/Olsten Staffing Services be MIT's primary supplier and work as a partner with the Institute in meeting temporary help needs. According to Ms. Devlin, this arrangement will give MIT "consistent quality and availability, price uniformity and competitive rates, and better overall reporting capacity.
"This partnership arrangement with one firm has other benefits as well," Ms. Devlin said. "By providing a single point for all temporary help needs, it will create a pool of `MIT-knowledgeable' temporary employees to ensure consistency and customized service. Sterling/Olsten will also coordinate billing, and provide management reports with the detailed information needed for financial control and planning."
The purchasing department will channel all requests for temporary office help to Joseph Allen, Sterling/Olsten's administrator for the MIT program. Mr. Allen has an office in Kendall Square and will be available to assist with the entire program. Joanne Jones of MIT General Purchasing will be the Institute's program manager. Both will be available to answer questions.
The Supplier Consolidation Team has worked closely with Sterling/Olsten to define respective responsibilities and create an implementation timeline to ensure a smooth transition. Once the final negotiations are completed, a series of informational workshops and meetings will be scheduled to inform the community of the benefits of this arrangement and to discuss transition issues. "Until this occurs, it will be business as usual," said Ms. Devlin. "Our primary goal is to make this process as seamless as possible."
If members of the community have questions or comments, they can contact the implementation team by calling Joanne Jones at x3-8350 or Steven C. McCluskey at x3-8348. They may also contact Supplier Consolidation Team members Peter Roden at x3-0147 or Diane Devlin at x3-7035. E-mail can be sent to the Supplier Consolidation Team at
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on February 1, 1995.