“If I want to make a purchase then Probrand's Marketplace will be the first place I look. I know that nine times out of ten, I will get the best price available.”
Neston High School is a large 11-18 comprehensive in rural Cheshire with over 1,750 students. The school’s IT team is led by James Barratt, who is responsible for purchasing IT equipment for the campus, students and more than 200 staff.
With a small team of just three, Neston’s IT department is often spread thin – having to meet the demands of almost 2,000 people. This was leaving James time poor but still having to ring around several IT resellers to find the best price and check available stock whenever he needed a IT product.
“When I have to go out and buy something immediately, from the high street, I know I will end up having paying a premium, and that can really hurt the IT budget. So I would ring around sales reps, even though it was really time consuming,” said James.
“At the same time, when we looked to order items online, you would often find that they have gone end of line or that we would have to wait weeks because they weren’t in stock.”
James wanted a simple way to speed up that procurement process, check the availability of products and ensure they were getting the best prices.
A decision was made for Neston’s IT team to utilise Probrand's Marketplace, which is freely available to organisations with an IT budget over £50,000.
Probrand's Marketplace is the first e-procurement solution to have ever been accredited by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).
In a highly volatile market, Probrand's Marketplace allows Neston High School to check the daily price movements on more than 300,000 products and see the stock levels held by more than 1,200 suppliers in real-time.
All products are catalogued with a full list of comparable specifications. The ability to compare products, prices and stock levels and make the purchase all in one secure online environment is empowering IT buyers to demonstrate best value, as well as helping organisations reduce the risk of fraudulent or unauthorised purchasing.
Consistency of product price and availability means IT buyers no longer waste time calling multiple suppliers to gather a series of quotes to be manually checked and benchmarked. In a world of time-starved IT managers this is helping to save time – driving efficiency and productivity. This is also eradicating the chance that price and stock levels change during the time spent researching the purchase.
A transparent relationship with suppliers also means that organisations avoid overpaying margins. The marketplace operates on an open book (cost plus agreed margin) basis, meaning that Neston High School can be confident they are getting a highly competitive price. As Probrand's Marketplace is a web based solution, deployment time is also minimal, with zero set up costs involved.
By using Probrand's Marketplace, James and his team now spend less time calling around suppliers and more time on crucial IT projects.
“Speed is a major advantage with Probrand's Marketplace, especially when time is precious. If I want to make a purchase, such as 80 keyboards and 20 mice, then Probrand's Marketplace will be the first place I look. I know that nine times out of ten, I will get the best price available.”
When James is conducting extensive research into major a purchase, he will also start the process by checking Probrand's Marketplace before looking anywhere else.
He said: “I’m obliged to shop around and get various quotes when it comes to purchases over £3,000 but I won’t do that without benchmarking through Probrand's Marketplace first.”
The ability to check stock levels within Probrand's Marketplace has proved a major advantage for James and is now even helping with critical purchasing decisions.
“I’m someone who tends to know what I want, right down to the model number. The portal makes it easy for me to find out what’s in stock, and what’s running low. If there is not enough in stock, it’s also incredibly easy to find the next best alternative,” said James.
“When there is only a handful available in stock, I may avoid those vendors as I want to ensure my whole order can be fulfilled. But when there is plenty of stock, it gives me the confidence I need to get on with things knowing the products will arrive in good time. It provides certainty.”