PEPPM Avaya Certification


A Guide to the Pennsylvania Educational Purchasing Program for Microcomputers (PEPPM)

Merlin is a preferred vendor for Avaya technologies in Pennsylvania

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Merlin Communications recently became Pennsylvania Education Purchasing Program for Microcomputers (PEPPM) approved for Avaya technologies in Pennsylvania, guaranteeing our preferred vendor status for government and educational institutions across the state. Working with a PEPPEM-certified contractor like Merlin provides convenience and time savings and improves value of purchasing.

Telecommunications purchasers from educational and local government agencies can bypass the bidding process and send direct orders for telecommunications products and services at pre-determined rates. They are then fulfilled by PEPPM vendors.

Understanding the vision, scope and history of PEPPM can help save companies time and money on the bidding process, as well as reduce risks by ensuring the high quality of the product. Here’s an overview of the program and why Merlin Communications approval matters for your organization.

What is PEPPM?

Founded in 1982, PEPPM is a program designed to help government agencies and educational institutions bid on and purchase technology, such as:
PEPPM helps goverment and education agencies purchase technology

  • Audio/visual (AV) products
  • Hardware and software, such as laptops or applications like Microsoft Office
  • Refurbished or repaired computer systems and replacement parts
  • Printer toner, ink and laser ink cartridges

The PEPPM program is managed and run by the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit (CSIU). Intermediate units are state government agencies tasked with serving the educational needs of a given geographical area. Normally, an intermediate unit is above a single school district and answers solely to the state Department of Education.

For example, the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit, which runs PEPPM, is responsible for securing technology and educational services for all of the school districts in Columbia, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder and Union counties in PA. Each intermediate unit is governed by a board of directors, with each member of the board being a member of a school board from one of the regions overseen by that specific intermediate unit.

Since the CSIU runs PEPPM, it is responsible not only for the technology and education services needs of the districts within its own intermediate unit but also the other schools, such as charter, public, technical and vocational, as well as the other intermediate units in Pennsylvania and other government agencies.

Eligible PA Buyers for PEPPM

Through PEPPM, the CSIU solicits bids from and awards contracts for new or updated technology on behalf of all eligible buyers in Pennsylvania. Eligible buyers for the state of Pennsylvania include:

  • County school districts
  • Other Pennsylvania intermediate units
  • Offices of education in each county
  • Community colleges
  • Technical schools
  • Non-public schools
  • Public libraries
  • Joint powers authorities
  • Educational service agencies
  • Universities and other four-year colleges
  • Other state and local government agencies
  • Municipalities and other authorities

In addition to the main PEPPM bidders in Pennsylvania, government services and education buyers in over 40 states use PEPPM contracts when it comes time to purchase new software, hardware, technology or other services for the schools or agencies that they service.

PEPPM-Authorized Equipment

Through PEPPM, CSIU works with authorized dealers to provide education and government services buyers with a way to place orders, obtain quotes and seek pre-sale or post-sale on-site local support, as necessary. Dealers that have authorized to provide equipment through PEPPM program include:

  • Casio
  • Dell
  • Dropbox
  • HP
  • Red Hat
  • Samsung
  • Xerox

Authorized Dealers in the PEPPM Program
Using PEPPM, the CSIU strives to provide educational and government buyers with access to a wide variety of products, all of which can be purchased from a single vendor or using one purchase order spread out over the course of a year.

How Does PEPPM Work?

There are three main steps when an educational or government buyer wants to place an order through the PEPPM bid process.

1. The Research Phase

The buyer does research on the item or items they are interested in purchasing. This research can take one of three forms:

  1. An index of line items and their relevant pricing information found on the PEPPM website through a PDF catalog, the vendor configuration system or the PEPPM catalog store.
  2. Sales assistance and a quote provided by vendors or re-sellers that work with CSIU through PEPPM.
  3. An index of line items and their relevant pricing information as found in Epylon eCommerce, a PEPPM affiliate. This can take the form of an online database, a vendor configuration system or another site that generates a quote.

2. The Purchase order Phase

Once the buyer has completed their research, and they wish to submit a purchase order, they can do so in one of three ways, depending on how they performed their initial price and product research:

  1. If sales assistance and quote were provided by a vendor or re-seller, the sales staff provides the buyer with the relevant documentation of the quote that has been issued against that vendor’s or re-seller’s contract with PEPPM. The buyer then faxes this information to PEPPM.
  2. If they found their product and price information through the PEPPM website, they print out their purchase order and any quotes provided to them by vendors, and fax this information to PEPPM.
  3. If the price and product information was found through Epylon eCommerce, the buyer can create their purchase order electronically through the Epylon eCommerce system.

3. The Ordering Phase

If the purchase order is placed during a business week, within a 24-hour period PEPPM staff will check any purchase orders faxed to them in order to verify the price and product information are correct, and the purchase order complies with PEPPM’s contract standards. If all of these criteria are met, then PEPPM staff will place the purchase order on the Epylon eCommerce system on the customer’s behalf.

4. The Purchase Verification Phase

After steps 2-3 or 3 is completed, the vendor who is the recipient of the purchase order will receive an email or fax notification automatically. In the case of faxes, any attached paper quotes are electronically added to the Epylon purchase order, including a copy of the fax itself. Order statuses can always be viewed online. Buyers can log into their Epylon eCommerce accounts and view the status of their orders at any time.

5. The Vendor Notification Phase

The vendor also receives a notification of the purchase order in their Epylon eCommerce account.

In addition to the advantages of the PEPPM bid system mentioned above, others include more electronic orders being directed to vendors and an easier transition from traditional order processing methods, such as faxes, to the easier eCommerce system.


Who Can Benefit?

There are dozens of institutions that can benefit from using PEPPM to order their technology or educational services. Chief among them are educational institutions such as public schools and universities, which can use the PEPPM bid system as an affordable way to provide their students with the technology that they need to complete their studies, such as laptops, software, printers and printer ink. Other institutions that can benefit include state government, local government and other institutions that serve the public, such as libraries.

Libraries particularly benefit from PEPPM

Out of the three, libraries in particular benefit from the PEPPM bid program the most. Much like educational institutions, libraries can use the PEPPM bid system as a way to satisfy the technology needs of the people who come through their doors.

The main benefit of using PEPPM is the vendor agreements that require PEPPM-affiliated vendors to provide their best local education agency (LEA) pricing, ensuring the buyer will get the lowest prices possible.

Additional Benefits of Using PEPPM

There are a number of benefits for education and government buyers that choose to purchase their technology through the PEPPM order system, including:

Order trackings, bid protection, order reports for PEPPM

  • Order tracking: Because orders are tracked through the Epylon eCommerce system, they leave an electronic trail and can be traced in case any orders end up lost.
  • Bids protected by an electronic archive: All orders are stored on the Epylon eCommerce system, allowing buyers to take advantage of the data protection technology Epylon offers, which includes an extensive backup.
  • Orders reported back to the buyer: The PEPPM program provides a report of all purchases made during the year to date on a quarterly basis — all orders, including fax and eCommerce orders, are tracked on the buyer’s account.

Order trackings, bid protection, order reports for PEPPM

Consider Merlin Communications as Your PEPPM Vendor of Choice

Merlin Communications was formed in response to the fact that many telecommunications systems manufacturers shifted from directly marketing their products to businesses and instead using the business partner channel market instead. Since that shift, we have introduced several new applications to our customer base in order to ensure they’re using the best technology possible, even as the industry evolves around them.

Merlin Communications has partnered with Avaya to provide new products and applications that benefit our customers. Our technologies include:

  • Avaya One-X Mobile
  • Avaya Softphones
  • Avaya Scopia Mobile
  • Avaya Scopia Videoconferencing
  • Avaya Flare Experience

Now we are a PEPPM vendor and a preferred vendor for government agencies and educational institutions in the state of Pennsylvania. When it comes to helping our government and our schools get the technology and educational services they need, no project is too big or too small.

We enjoy helping these vital institutions get the products they need with less hassle. They have neither the time nor the resources to conduct drawn-out bidding processes for new telecommunications solutions. By using PEPPME, they save on both and receive greater value in the long run from our top-of-the-line products. Our experience in the constantly evolving field of technology makes us the smart choice for solutions to help push our schools and government institutions farther along in the high-tech 21st century.


Educational Institutions Using PEPPM: Pre-K Through PASSHE

Educational institutions benefit from PEPPM the most because it streamlines the way they search for and purchase the solutions to their educational and technology services problems. One way it does this is by eliminating the need for individual educational institutions to bid on the technology solutions they require to see to their students’ needs.

Schools that purchase items through PEPPM get the best prices possible

By eliminating this requirement, PEPPM reduces the effort, time and monetary cost educational institutions need to outlay in order to purchase their technology products and services. This, in turn, allows them to preserve their budget in order to better respond to their students’ needs as they develop.

Using PEPPM allows educational buyers to place their technology orders quickly without the cost and delay associated with developing and awarding bids to local companies. Since the educational institutions themselves do not have to deal with the details of the bidding and delivery process, they save money when using a PEPPM bid. PEPPM bids allow for faster delivery, setup and use, which makes them a better value, and includes PEPPM bid award protection:

  • Any PEPPM-affiliated vendor must provide a file detailing the terms and conditions of the lease arrangements they have made with the educational agencies they’re doing business with.
  • This file must be made available to educational agencies through their firm.

In addition to their main bid protection process, PEPPM protects education institutions looking to purchase technology services by only awarding bids to the most responsible, responsive bidder that can supply the educational institution their technology at the lowest price point possible. All of this is done using a competitive, sealed bid process, meaning no two technology services bidders will know what the other has bid.

Value and Reliability of PEPPM for Educational institutions

Possibly the biggest way educational institutions benefit from using PEPPM bids as opposed to local bids is the fact that using a PEPPM bid to sell technology services to schools is a prerequisite set forth by school business managers for technology vendors that wish to sell their services to the schools in question.

PEPPM bids are even required for items that may be ordered in quantities that are well under the threshold required by PEPPM bids. This means schools that order items through the PEPPM bid program get the best prices possible no matter what and do not have to worry about going over into the threshold required for the bid because they are still bid-protected and can rest assured they are buying their technology services from a responsible and responsive bidder.

Local Government

Local Government Agencies

Local government agencies such as boroughs, municipalities and others benefit from using PEPPM bids as well. A PEPPM bid can streamline their technology services purchasing process through the aggregation of buyers and sellers into one central place, making it easier for buyers to purchase the services that they need.

This aggregation provides a cost savings not possible through local sole-bid efforts. All of the bidders looking for government contracts must compete against each other while still providing responsible, responsive service.

Local government agencies benefit from using PEPPM bids through the different pricing options PEPPM bids allow them to take advantage of, including:

  • Volume discounts — This includes spot pricing, which can be provided on a buyer-by-buyer and deal-by-deal basis
  • Dynamic pricing — Vendors can update their product lists and pricing information in order to reflect the changing nature of technology products, services and pricing while still ensuring any bid discounts or markups are applied as necessary.

Local government agencies also enjoy the same bid protections educational institutions enjoy, including the fact that companies are required to take PEPPM bids for items that can be ordered in quantities well under the threshold required for those same bids.

No matter whether a government agency or an educational institution places the PEPPM bid, both will enjoy huge benefits when searching for their technology services, especially when compared to using local sole-bid bidding systems.

Contact Merlin

Get in Touch with Merlin Communications Today

Our staff is always gaining field experience and undergoing professional training to ensure we stay current in the telecommunications field. It’s that experience and training, as well as the Avaya products we provide to our customers, that allow us to deliver consistent value every step of the way to ensure we’re helping our customers improve their operations every day.

If you’re interested in pursuing a local government or education contract in Pennsylvania, please contact us.