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The college, which supports more than 20,000 students, wanted to ensure its Cannock Campus was fully kitted out with cutting edge IT equipment and infrastructure fit for the digital age. However, with education budgets contracting, it was under pressure to stretch its finances as far as possible.

Before starting the procurement process, the college deployed CIPS accredited KnowledgeBus IT Edition to provide the level of market visibility and knowledge required to negotiate the best prices.

The online solution helps organisations by automating the benchmarking process of quoted prices against trade guide prices of 150,000 products from 2,500 manufacturers, and provides daily updates on current market prices and stock levels.

Since introducing the application to its procurement process, South Staffordshire has seen the average margin paid to IT resellers tumble from a historic level of 30.9% to less than 3%.  And with a budget of several millions that represents a lot of money that has driven the new Campuses technology.

Jamie Smith, Director for Strategy & Infrastructure, said: “South Staffordshire College wants to be in the vanguard of development across all areas - the learner experience, the campus buildings and procurement. If you want to be progressive when budgets are contracting you need to be innovative as there is pressure to deliver the best possible return on every pound spent.

“With the knowledge to negotiate supplier margins down and save money we have been able to deliver more or better IT into the new Cannock campus for a better learning environment. 

“KnowledgeBus is a no brainer, it paid for itself within the first month.

“For example, we recently required seven laptops, which would cost about £900 each from major suppliers.  We bought them for £420 each and made a saving of almost £2,000 on that purchase alone.”

Further to reducing margins, the college has been able to make additional savings on IT procurement by using KnowledgeBus management and spend analysis tools to forecast seasonal price trends and variations.

This foresight has seen the college adjust its purchasing behaviour to ensure it pays the lowest prices possible over the course of the year.

Smith continues: “We have fundamentally become more strategic.  Powerful big data functionality allows us to view historical stock and pricing levels to spot and analyse trends. We have set alerts to provide early warnings on any fluctuations, which can be dramatic. These insights have led us to both delay and bring forward purchases.”