• Chigwell School saves time and money with Probrand's marketplace


The debate around IT in the classroom no longer resides around 'computers for schools' per se, it has shifted focus to getting the very latest technology into the classroom in the shortest possible time for the best price.

Best practice electronic procurement processes offer educational establishments a cost efficient method of consistently buying best priced IT products through a structured business process.

Chigwell School has embraced modern methods of procuring IT to improve the level of ICT they offer pupils by saving time and money to stretch the reach of their IT budget. This is helping the school to offer better, more efficient technology education to pupils.

The Client

Chigwell is a private and independent Foundation Trust offering an outstanding all round education to boys and girls between the ages of 7 and 18. The school has 720 pupils attending a 70 acre site housing PDAs, laptops and over 150 desktop PCs and 50 printers connected between 10 buildings using a fibre optic network. The IT infrastructure is managed and maintained by two full-time and two part-time personnel with variable support from a number of teachers.

The Challenge

Historically a large number of IT operatives purchased IT through unstructured, ad hoc processes that regularly entailed distress purchases, over purchases and forgotten purchases. This meant any member of the extended school team bought by calling any number of suppliers before choosing the supplier they felt offered the best fit for their needs without any true benchmarking or manual comparison activity. The school did not have a structured approach to buying or order approval and as a result did not have the greatest level of control over its IT budget.

A complete rationalisation of the way the school purchases IT was needed.

To help overcome the dynamic nature of the IT marketplace, where price, availability and specification change on a daily basis, the Chigwell team trialled 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
  • 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

As part of a 'one stop shop' approach, Chigwell School is able to get to the best priced products in the shortest possible time and if they need help on product specification for a particular job, they have telephone support from a knowledgable support team at Probrand.

Rob Hatchett, IT support manager, says: "The marketplace is easy to use, consistently offers best on price and incredible technical detail on every product under the sun.

"Inbound sales calls from IT suppliers promising best price never beat the new system. We have even moved our Microsoft software licensing agreements to Probrand, saving both time and money.

"Probrand's marketplace is saving us a considerable amount of time on procurement administration. We no longer need to ring round or use the internet to find the cheapest deal. IT procurement now takes up as little as half a day per month. The time released has been better spent on key management and support tasks to ensure continuity of service to end users.

"We are now saving between 10 to 15% on previous budgeting expenditure enabling us currently to improve our wireless network and buy more interactive white boards, for example, within the same budget to ensure the school offers the very best in technology supported education.

"As the new system offers transparency, management functionality and an excellent order approval system, it is possible to delegate the placing of orders while keeping control of budgets in the hands of more senior staff.

"We now enjoy true spend visibility and can forecast purchasing requirements and costs as part of a best practice approach. It truly has changed the way we operate.

"Beyond the brief, this solution has enabled us to develop and broaden our purchasing function. We don't worry about IT procurement anymore; Probrand's Marketplace has given us a best practice process to secure best value IT every time."