• Bradford Grammar School chooses Probrand for Smarter IT Procurement


With Gordon Brown's demand for huge procurement savings in the public sector on the back of the Gershon report, allied private sector organisations are also finding their processes are in need of efficiencies. E-procurement has been put at the top of the corporate agenda.

As a result of this new focus for savings, departments are striving to be ever more entrepreneurial in their approach towards adopting a solution that delivers a best practice approach to procurement and increased operating efficiency.

One private sector organisation that is allied to public sector work is Bradford Grammar School, and as a business, has had to ensure man hours are maximised and budgets stretch as far as they can reach. As a result, and considering the organisation's ethos to offer nothing but the best, the IT department has embraced e-procurement as part of a more efficient purchasing strategy.

The department's IT Network Manager and technical team are using Probrand's Marketplace to purchase peripherals, consumables, hardware and software from toner cartridges to servers.

IT Network Manager Simon Marriott says the solution is saving nearly two working weeks a month in man hours as a result of massive increases in operating efficiency and purchasing processes.

His team is now able to focus on keeping users online, fulfilling their roles as IT technical and maintenance managers as opposed to IT purchasing administrators.

The school is able to buy more for the same budget, which is enhancing the pace of technology education in the classroom.

The Client

Bradford Grammar School (BGS) is a selective co-educational school which seeks to retain the best of the traditional grammar school ethos with a modern, forward-thinking approach whilst delivering excellence across the piste.

As one of the highest achieving schools in the UK, the organisation prides itself on creating a learning environment in which pupils are happy and can flourish.

Like all educational facilities, IT forms a crucial element of this environment and as a result the School employs a team of three to manage and maintain an innovative and robust network.

This network employs the very latest technologies in accordance with the organisation's ethos and includes over 600 PC's, 107 printers, 12 file servers, fibre channel hard disk storage facilities and a 10GB backbone, which is being constantly updated.

The Challenge

As part of the Grammar School's IT function, the team is tasked with purchasing IT in order to maintain the efficient functioning of its infrastructure. To that end the team employed a lengthy and complicated process to purchase its IT.

With no formalised purchasing structure in place, the team adopted a simple yet time consuming process that ensured no supplier provided the same order more than twice. Additionally, every purchase would require at least three quotes from separate suppliers. This system was adopted to ensure the School never found itself in the situation where suppliers were increasing their costs unwittingly.

Adhering to that rule, the team would spend up to half of every working day searching for suppliers on the internet before then ringing round each supplier and requesting a quotation. The team would then analyse each quote based on cost and availability.

However, the team's purchasing decision would then be influenced further by the size of the organisation and, as a result, its perceived trust to deliver on time.

This process was exceptionally time consuming and would often deliver product that was not always the best priced or readily available, but was from a trusted source.

With a proactive and innovative ethos behind its IT network management, the team changed its outlook on IT procurement following a demonstration of Probrand's Marketplace

The Solution

Probrand's Marketplace is a web based procurement solution which daily updates a list of more than 100,000 products from more than 1200 different suppliers by best price and availability. Operating in a secure on-line environment, the solution saves time, saves money and adds value to the bottom line, so organisations can stretch the reach of their IT budget.

Core functionality:

  • Free to register
  • Product search by brand, code, spec.
  • Europe's largest listing from the biggest brands
  • Central management functionality - budget tracking, analysis, planning & forecasting
  • Improved spend visibility and reduced rogue purchasing
  • Automated comparison engine - eliminates time consuming supplier ring rounds and manual comparisons
  • Accredited by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales as offering Best Practice Best Value
  • Catalist framework approved
  • The solution maintains total price transparency, displaying mainline distribution cost and cost plus agreed margin
  • The solution enables users to get to the best priced product in the shortest possible time - from a server to a printer toner cartridge

The Benefits

Since adopting the solution, IT Network Manager, Simon Marriott, and his team have revolutionised the way they conduct IT sourcing and purchasing thanks to e-procurement technology and personalised customer relationship management.

Marriott, explains: "On average the solution is saving us in excess of two days a week in time we used to spend on researching, sourcing and comparing prices from multiple suppliers. That equates to eight days a month we now use to help users with issues and generally maintain the system to an even higher level.

"The solution has reduced our procurement process from nearly 50% of a working day down to less than half an hour.

"Furthermore, Probrand's Marketplace has saved us in the region of 30% on our IT budget. This means we can now get more from our budget.

As a result, the school is smashing DFES targets for PC:Pupil ratios and buying higher specification equipment for the same budget. This is enhancing the learning environment and accelerating technology education in the school.

Marriot continues: "The solution consistently provides product by best price and availability as well as giving us confidence that the product will be delivered on time. We trust that the solution is delivering best value at all times thanks to its feeds that cover product across the UK distribution network.

"Much of this benefit has been due to the solution's easy to use, three click capabilities. The team required no training and we were able to buy within 24 hours of registering.

"With the re-order pad functionality, we now have the tools of a procurement professional at our finger tips. This means we can tailor and populate an area of what is our Private Procurement Hub for IT, with the most commonly ordered items. Again, this saves even more time.

"The solution has enabled us as a department to do a better job for Bradford Grammar School and its users. We can now get the best priced product for the fastest possible time in the UK, enabling us to stretch our IT budget and deliver a better service for teachers to educate pupils."