Gwynedd Council Takes Advantage of Collaborative Procurement (Gwynedd)

Published on: 09/09/2009

Gwynedd Council has embarked on a major long-term programme to increase the use of electronic procurement throughout the authority, with the aim of saving a large slice of its £90 million (103 million euros) annual spend on goods and services. The Council believes that the xchangewales eTrading for Schools system will be a distinct advantage to the education sector.

xchangewales eTrading for Schools is an online service that allows individual schools to select value for money goods and services from a range of electronic catalogues through a secure, simple ordering portal, which can be integrated with existing schools' finance management systems. ProcServe was appointed by the Welsh Assembly Government to deliver this key part of the eProcurement platform for the xchangewales programme.

One of the main objectives for Gwynedd Council is to introduce eProcurement into the county's 120 schools, who currently buy goods and services in a variety of ways, including manual paper ordering. The initial pilot at two secondary and six primary schools was completed in March 2009. Implementation to all secondary schools in Gwynedd was concluded in July 2009, and the remaining 100 primary schools will be coming on board throughout the rest of this year.

Policy Context

xchangewales is a ground breaking programme that allows all public sector organisations in Wales to source, tender, evaluate, order and pay for goods and services at a click of a button. The electronic tools and web-based services help to improve efficiency, increase productivity and lower the cost of doing business. xchangewales eTrading and xchangewales eTrading for Schools are based on the Zanzibar Managed Service, and delivered by ProcServe. xchangewales is a Welsh Assembly Government sponsored programme.
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Description of target users and groups

One of the cornerstones of the programme is introducing eProcurement into the county's 120 schools, who currently buy goods in a variety of ways - including manual paper ordering. The Council expects that this will have a positive impact on their current focus, which is process efficiency savings. This, along with other benefits, will support a reduction in their - and their individual schools - education purchasing bill.

For that reason, Gwynedd was pleased to be able to be part of the xchangewales eTrading for Schools trial. The pilot at two secondary and six primary schools was completed in March 2009. The system has since been rolled out to the council's 12 remaining secondary schools in July 2009 with 100 primary schools coming on board throughout the rest of 2009.

Description of the way to implement the initiative

A small pilot was run between April and July 2008 with schools in Gwynedd, the purpose of which was to capture findings and lessons learned to assist in planning the rollout of xchangewales eTrading for Schools on a wider basis.

Technology solution

xchangewales eTrading for Schools has been designed to take into account the specific needs of schools:

  • A simple, secure online service that allows schools to select goods and services from pre-approved local, regional and national suppliers.
  • Full integration with SIMS Financial Management System that ensures that current working processes - such as order approval - can continue.
  • The system is user friendly with easy to follow step-by-step functionality.
Technology choice: Open source software

Main results, benefits and impacts

Ysgol Tryfan at Bangor is a 430-pupil secondary school and rates as one of the highest performing schools in Gwynedd. Along with Ysgol Eifionydd in Porthmadog, Ysgol Tryfan has been taking part in both xchangewales eTrading for Schools trials and was the first to place an order via the system.

Carol Hughes has been a member of staff at Tryfan for 24 years and is the person the school's 35 staff rely on to manage the procurement of teaching and other materials essential to the day-to-day running of Ysgol Tryfan. With the support of the head teacher, Carol volunteered to 'test drive' the xchangewales eTrading for Schools system believing it represents the way forward.


"On xchangewales eTrading for Schools, everything is much quicker. In one instance, we located some scientific equipment we needed on the system and placed an electronic order. The supplier rang to confirm within five minutes of receiving the order and the goods arrived the next day."  

"It may be a powerful tool but is very simply set up on school computers and it takes a very short time to become familiar with its capabilities and processes."

Most of the suppliers that Ysgol Tryfan traditionally deals with are on the system, but there are still more to register. "More suppliers and more catalogues means more choice", according to Carol. "I want it to work and I am very pleased with it. I think it is the future and all schools should have it."

Return on investment

Return on investment: Not applicable / Not available

Lessons learnt

"Even small savings, multiplied across many sites, will add up to a considerable sum, but it is our hope and expectation that xchangewales eTrading for Schools will make a much bigger difference, as it has in other organisations who have grasped the opportunity."

Scope: Local (city or municipality), National, Regional (sub-national)