The North West Collaborative Procurement Hub was set up in 2005 and oversees £1.2bn of spend a year across 39 trusts.
In January, the hub implemented the project using QlikTech's Qlikview system. Jan Nangle, IS manager for the procurement hub, said the system had increased the speed of data collection and had improved analysis capabilities.
"The data we collect is now more relevant and up to date, because we have automated the way data is collected from individual trusts," she said.
"Before, managers from each category had to go to each trust, access information, and bring it together on an annual basis."
Each NHS trust has evolved its own financial system. The hub has developed the ability to bring information from these systems together and look at the aggregated spend across category areas. Staff can see how many suppliers they are dealing with and come up with strategy.
Nangle said different categories of spending needed different systems. "It is all about finding the right value for money and finding the right practice.
"In IT, for example, we can come up with a standard. But things like surgeons' gloves and hip replacements usually need to go through a clinical exercise before it is right. Trials will be done to make sure everyone is happy."
Communication between trusts can also improve as a result of such initiatives, with opportunities for data sharing and benchmarking.
Nangle said, "It has improved information quality and the deals we can come up with, and is a significant step forward."