Keeping it simple

Among the wide range of necessary improvements identified, the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) was given new powers and tasked with the delivery of this large-scale transformation in government procurement. It will be responsible for managing the delivery of category management strategies across the public procurement terrain, which encompasses some 44,000 public sector buying organisations and £75 billion of common government spend.  
That, however, is all in the long-term. With the public sector spending nearly £3 billion on IT Hardware alone in 2006-2007, organisations owe it to the UK taxpayer to start exploring how existing collaborative procurement opportunities can help them cash-in on the significant savings potential of this colossal ICT expenditure.

The underlying principle of achieving savings through a more joined-up approach to procurement is not a new idea. The Gershon review of 2003 identified £21.5bn of potential public sector efficiency savings.

Buying power
Spurred by this finding,, an Executive Agency of the OGC, has built a diverse portfolio of commercial procurement arrangements designed specifically to bring together, and capitalise on, the public sector’s collective buying power. Spanning all major ICT commodity and service areas, including IT hardware and software, telecoms, mobile telephony, eProcurement and consultancy,’ Catalist framework agreements and Managed Services saved the public sector a creditable £516m in 2006-7.
All negotiated through an EU compliant procurement process, these arrangements allow customers from publicly-funded organisations to call-off the goods and services they need, when they need them. And, for many purchase requirements, buying is made easier still with’ expanding eCatalogue, which facilitates online ordering and offers an Invitation To Quote (ITQ) facility.
Containing details of all its commercial arrangements, the eCatalogue provides a comprehensive listing of both suppliers and prices. For products such as IT hardware, where the market is inherently competitive and suppliers upload new prices daily, users of the facility enjoy best market prices on whatever they purchase, without investing unnecessary time in conducting manual comparisons. By facilitating strong competition between suppliers on the IT framework agreement,’ online ITQ facility, which allows capable suppliers to provide their best price for a given customer requirement, is reaping even greater savings for public sector organisations.
To showcase the savings available,’ new Great Deals initiative encourages suppliers to commit to unbeatable prices on common specification laptops and desktop PCs. These are promoted on the website and for customers whose requirements fall within the scope of products available, this route is not only convenient but is guaranteed to secure the best prices the market will offer.
Of course, there is more to this than just cash savings. As any regular online shopper knows, purchasing online saves time as well as money.

Specialist support
For organisations with a large ICT network and complex requirements, it is sometimes necessary to draw on external specialist support in order to ensure that the strategic issue of setting-up and developing a fit for purpose ICT infrastructure is managed efficiently.

With this in mind, developed its ICT Consultancy framework agreement to complement its commodity offering. Designed specifically to assist at times when there is a requirement for consultancy support, the arrangement ensures that organisations can access the expertise they need, whilst minimising delays and associated risks. It provides access to a comprehensive range of services for the provision of ICT knowledge based advice with a total of eight different categories (for example: Application Design & IT Architecture Design to Enterprise Resource Planning and IT Security).

Online benefits
Effective IT systems have never been more important to public sector organisations than in the current political climate where both sustainability and eGovernment are racing towards the top of the Government’s agenda.
The many benefits of eProcurement have been widely documented. As well as streamlining procurement, improving supplier negotiation, and delivering impressive savings, working online also has positive environmental impacts. is leading the way in championing the use of online technology within the procurement process.
Developed specifically for use by their public sector counterparts,’ eProcurement toolkit, which consists of eAuctions, eSourcing and Zanzibar (the public sector eMarketplace), can help organisations realise all of the benefits that eProcurement is hailed to deliver. And in keeping with’ overarching procurement model, this comprehensive service package can be immediately accessed and used with confidence by customers, because each supplier has been selected through a rigorous tender process, compliant with EU directives.

The eSourcing component of the toolkit was recently awarded an ‘EU Good Practice label’, based on a recommendation from the European eGovernment Awards consortium. The same tool won the Shared Services Category Award at the Government Computer Innovation Awards earlier in the year.

Essential role
With communication being an essential cog in the mechanics of all contemporary organisations, telephony plays an essential role in ensuring the continuity of every day business operations. In response to this fundamental need, developed its Specialist Solutions framework agreement so that pubic sector organisations can purchase all their information and communication service requirements through a single sourcing vehicle. now offers an agreement that provides end-to-end solutions within four key areas: Voice Solutions, Data Solutions, Convergent Solutions and Specialist Communication Solutions (radio, satellite, microwave, conferencing & CCTV).
Each supplier has been selected through the meticulous procurement processes that underpin’ entire commercial offering. And as a direct result of this systematically thorough approach, one of the arrangement’s key selling points is that each supplier is competent in delivering the complete range of services required to support a project from initiation to final completion.
To deliver the level of security that must be achieved in Next Generation Networks procured by the public sector and to take advantage of recent industry innovation in this area, will be launching a new Telecoms Networks framework agreement over coming months. It will offer a wide range of telecommunications services and products, readily accessible to customers through’ successful online eCatalogue.

Technological development
But telecoms are now also required to support the ever-growing numbers of public sector workers based out of the office. A sharp rise in remote working has triggered significant growth in the use of mobile telephony by public sector workers.
To complete its portfolio of business solutions for customer organisations, has an expansive framework agreement in place to fulfill evolving needs in a field characterised by fast-paced technological development. As well as offering basic packages for mobile telephony services and devices,’ framework agreement caters for the provision of Wide Area Paging, Blackberries, Lone Worker Protection and Virtual Private Assistants.
Sophisticated needs
As new technological developments deliver the IT solutions that meet the increasingly sophisticated needs – and aspirations – of public sector customers, is redoubling its efforts to ensure that, through effective collaboration and aggregation, these solutions deliver real dividends in price, quality and sustainability for its customers.Age concern surfs its way to savings
When Age Concern Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan embarked on a ground breaking project, which aimed to bring older citizens more in touch with computer technology, they decided to buy their IT hardware through Buying Solutions’ IT eCatalogue. With an overriding priority to invest public donations in activities that will directly improve the quality of life for older people, when it comes to buying the essential commodities the organisation needs to fulfill this objective, every penny counts.
The national Age Concern Silver Surfers initiative aims to educate elderly people on the benefits of using computer technology. Under the umbrella of this high-profile project, Age Concern Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan have established a local teaching centre, well-equipped with desktops, laptops and digital cameras.
They sourced their entire IT infrastructure through Buying Solutions’ eCatalogue – and made impressive savings with discounts of between 10 and 72 per cent on everything they bought. As a result the IT eCatalogue is now a first port of call for all their IT requirements. 
Said Phil Rushton, communications officer at Age Concern Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan: “I have been astounded by the savings that we have been able to make using the online IT catalogue. The ITQ facility has greatly simplified the buying process, which has saved us time as well as money. 
“I simply provide a list of the items we require and continue to be impressed by the supplier responses and savings that can be secured.“

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