The Royal Veterinary College is one of the world’s leading specialist veterinary institutions. Founded in 1791, it has around 2,000 students and 750 staff working across various departments, including veterinary and biomedical sciences, clinical practice and education.
The college adopted a strategy that encouraged all departments to purchase their IT requirements through the combined Library and Information Services Division (LISD). This placed a strain on the department’s seven Helpdesk technicians, who could spend up to one day per week on IT related procurement enquiries and administration, rather than technical support issues.
The LISD had problems in keeping track of daily information on product availability and price, which was hampering its mission to identify competitive pricing across all purchases.
Dan Messum, IT & Development Manager at the Royal Veterinary College, said: “The volume of orders coupled with a rapidly changing IT marketplace, meant it was a tall order achieving best value on everything.”
The Royal Veterinary College decided to use an IT benchmarking application to assist with its purchasing and adopted KnowledgeBus, from Mercato Solutions, 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 contracted suppliers to unlock more from budgets. It saves users time consistently achieving best value.
Minesh Shah, Head of Procurement at the Royal Veterinary College, said: “The free spend analysis that KnowledgeBus initially provided benchmarked 18 months of the College’s IT spend data. This delivered the business case to make a simple decision to purchase the KnowledgeBus tool that would pay for itself quickly, by saving the IT department time and providing sustained value for money across the College’s contracted IT suppliers”.
Empowered with the trade price information provided by KnowledgeBus, the LISD has found it is now able to negotiate with suppliers over the margins it pays, often saving the College thousands of pounds on individual purchases.
“We were recently quoted £14,000 for video conferencing equipment and when we benchmarked this using KnowledgeBus we revealed the supplier had put a 10% mark up on the ‘channel’ price. This insight enabled us to quickly negotiate the price down by £1600,” said Dan Messum, IT & Development Manager at the Royal Veterinary College.
“Even where we have good relationships with suppliers, we are now able to make further savings using the benchmarking information to support our discussions.”
He added: “KnowledgeBus has more than paid for itself in the savings we are making and with a more efficient benchmarking process our IT helpdesk has freed up around 4 days per month that are now better spent on core projects and pressing technical issues.”
“We now use an administrator without an IT background to handle routine purchasing,” continues Dan. “This has released skilled technicians, so they can spend significantly more time on tasks such as installing software, fixing hardware or handling users email and software support issues.”
With the ICT market changing so quickly, Dan says another significant benefit of KnowledgeBus has been the technical advice available.
“Being able to get advice from the KnowledgeBus customer service team about the latest models has provided added value,” said Dan. “Equipment, such as projectors and monitors, can change models so frequently it’s hard to keep up with but you can get advice on that issue.”
He added: “We also have the reassurance that if our contracted suppliers can’t meet the prices we know are available in the market, we can acquire that product through the Mercato Procurement Hub where the transparent margin is no greater than 3%.“We might still use our original contractor, for the installation work for example, but we can tell them we’ll source some of the equipment ourselves and save a considerable amount of money in the process.”