How I Work: Travis Ratsoy
We’re sitting down with procurement professionals in different organizations to hear about how they approach their work, how Bonfire fits into their day-to-day, and the resources and tools that keep them on track.
This month’s guest is Travis Ratsoy, Procurement and Assurance Coordinator with the Town of Stony Plain in Alberta, Canada. Travis is a one-person procurement team, facilitating a decentralized procurement process across the municipality’s various departments. Needless to say, he gets things done! Here’s more on how he does it.
First, tell me a bit about your background and how you got to your current role?
Previously, I’ve done procurement on the private side, but I actually came to the town through a finance role. Around three years ago, they started an initiative to bring more oversight and consistency to the town’s procurement, and I was chosen to start this initiative.
What’s the primary goal of this initiative?
The goal is to bring consistency to the town’s procurement practice, make sure that we’re following the rules and regulations to ensure that we are legally compliant. Overall, the goal is to get a handle on what’s going on throughout the organization related to procurement.
What role does technology — and in particular procurement software — play in helping you deliver on this initiative?
Being a single person in this role, I turn to technology to help make my role more efficient in order to help the entire organization. Ultimately, our goal in implementing new software was to bring a degree of certainty and to make it easier for all departments to create compliant documents and procurement processes.
Together with Bonfire, we’ve also added in the Orbidder document creation through The Procurement Office, so those two combined make a huge difference to what I can do this year to last year. We are more flexible to meet all the deadlines and agendas for each department.
How does Bonfire fit into your day-to-day?
It’s not about fitting into my day-to-day, it is my day-to-day. If different departments want to know what’s happening with their projects, I’m in and out reviewing things for them, answering vendor questions, calling up information for vendor debriefs. At all different stages of the procurement process, I’m relying on the information that has been accumulated through Bonfire to help answer questions and give direction.
How is that different now, compared to when you started your role?
When I started, that information was in different email files or Excel sheets or physical stacks of paper. To get information, for example to give a debrief to a vendor, it meant going through individuals sheets from four to five evaluators, discerning their notes, and compiling the information to create a statement.
Whereas now with Bonfire, with a click of a button the report is there, and it’s pretty straightforward to give some quick feedback to a vendor.
Especially when leading change, there’s a huge people skills component to procurement. What do you consider to be the key interpersonal skills you draw upon in your role?
Customer service is probably the foremost one. To provide customer service internally to all of our departments doing purchasing, I have to be able to speak their language. Then, there’s also customer service when it comes to the vendor side of the relationship.
In my role, I’m the conduit between the two sides, so I have to be able to speak in ways that everyone can understand, so everyone is on the same page, and it’s clear between all parties. That is by far the most important piece.
What publications/resources do you turn to for industry info?
I’m a forever learner, from whatever source — whether it’s a postsecondary course or bulletins through different organizations. I have a never-ending supply of PDFs I’ve downloaded, and I’m constantly trying to see where trends are, what the latest case law is, etc.
I have Paul Emanuelli’s Government Procurement 4th Edition here on my desk beside me right now. I also took the Public Sector Procurement Program through NECI to help get a great understanding in a short time for public procurement.
We try to build the network locally and understand what others are doing nationally. Because we’re a relatively small community, learning from what the bigger communities are doing gives us a proactive way to figure out how to make our next step happen.
Do you have any advice to offer about a career in procurement?
For me it’s about serving. I am serving these different departments to help the municipality do the best it can. Going into it with a servant heart and getting to know all the different operations within the municipality — if you don’t have a passion or desire for that, it’s probably going to be a hard job. But if you like being involved and supporting, then it is going to be a great thing to come to work every day.