Having combined several District Councils into one, this central organisation provides over one hundred services to more than a quarter of a million people. The Council’s Information Assets (IA) team of 90 manages an annual budget of £7M and provides IT support to 2,600 employees working in areas ranging from highways and waste to education and social services.
To make savings in backend IT spend that can be reused to fund service priorities
In 2009, much of the Council’s IT estate needed refreshing in the context of tough cuts to budgets. Equally, pressures to meet its ‘Customer First’ pledge to improve front line provision and service priorities, meant the IA team had to save money buying desktops and IT infrastructure that could be re-used elsewhere.
Business and Commissioning Manager in the Council’s Information Assets Team, said: “The Customer First strategy meant frontline staff needed support and we needed to become more agile. We needed to cut our capital expenses.”
The Council adopted KnowledgeBus, a CIPS accredited online application that automates benchmarking of purchases against daily trade guide price and stock levels on over 150,000 ‘live’ products from more than 2,500 manufacturers.
Users simply input supplier product lists or conduct spot checks to see what margin their supplier is proposing. A range of spend analysis tools also help users identify, track and forecast market developments for more strategic procurement.
KnowledgeBus empowers IT buyers with market knowledge, so they can rapidly negotiate better deals with preferred suppliers to unlock more from budgets. It saves users time consistently achieving best value.
The market intelligence provided by KnowledgeBus has enabled the Council to drive greater competition amongst suppliers. As a result the Council has seen a dramatic reduction in margins from as much as 300% down to just 3%.
The Business and Commissioning Manager explains: “The savings from our first purchase were enough to cover the annual KnowledgeBus subscription. We now have total transparency of reseller margins and have been able to drive prices down significantly.
“On items like network cabling, we have spotted over charging to the tune of 200-300%. We now pay a best practice margin of 3%. This saving enables us to get more from the same budget.
“Fundamentally, KnowledgeBus is helping us reduce purchase prices and get better value for taxpayers.
“In 2013 we saved over 4% on a £2M hardware budget alone. The money saved has been redirected into key service delivery priorities, supporting key council employees, such as social workers and building management officers in the field.
The Council claims this is not where the impact of KnowledgeBus ends. The IA team now has the ability to plan future expenditure more precisely as it has more certainty over the costs involved.
Having knowledge of prices and stock levels in the channel has also allowed the IA team to significantly cut the time it takes to acquire products.
“The time frame to put a purchase out to tender has been halved and gone are the days of waiting weeks for the arrival of difficult to source products,” said the Business and Commissioning Manager.
“Previously, we would have approached a supplier to see if a certain model was available and this would add three to four days to the tender process.
“We can now go to the supplier with the part code knowing what the price should be and how much stock is available in the channel. This helps us avoid previously unknown ‘End-of Life’ scenarios where delivery is delayed or a supplier would take the order then struggle to source it.
“We now have greater market insight than the trade itself and this is keeping us one step ahead.”