Glasgow City Council saves £20m with e-procurement project

Glasgow City Council saved £20m in less than two years in what it claims is one of the UK's biggest public sector e-procurement projects.

Glasgow City Council saved £20m in less than two years in what it claims is one of the UK's biggest public sector e-procurement projects.

The council has saved about £19m by cutting its suppliers from about 20,000 to 8,250, and a further £1m by cutting staff time and printing costs.

Glasgow, which went live with the project in February last year, has rolled out the e-procurement system to 3,500 staff and has plans to roll it out to 1,500 more in education services by December.

Andy Kyte, a vice-president and research fellow at Gartner, said public sector savings of this size should be happening more regularly.

"Hopefully the significant savings at Glasgow will be a beacon to be quickly seized upon by council leaders across the country, who will start to ask the tough questions about what they need to do to achieve the same value for money for their rate payers," he said.

John Sherry, e-procurement project manager at the council, said, "93% of transactions now go through this system, so we are saving massive amounts of paper. We do not have as many people supporting invoice processing as before, freeing them up to work on other areas."

The council has rolled out an electronic invoicing system from Kewill and a web-based ordering system, called Pecos, which links to its back-office SAP system. Suppliers connect to the council either by cXML, Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) or e-mail.

Before the system was implemented each department used any of 50 different ordering systems. Under the new system, users go into an electronic catalogue and buy what they need. Invoices are produced electronically. Most of the council's larger suppliers are linked up to the system, and the focus over the next 18 months will be bringing smaller suppliers on board, said Sherry.

E-Procurement Scotland, which provides software and support for councils implementing projects, said that Glasgow had achieved big savings because it had ran the project "by the book."

"They have done it properly. If you look across the whole public sector, some places are more effective and rigorous than others when implementing e-procurement. It is no surprise that they did well because they did it by the book," said Ian Burdon, the programme sponsor for E-Procurement Scotland.

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