Irish IT to save UK city council £500,000 in costs

5 Mar 2009

In what could be a valuable lesson for the Irish Government in these lean times, technology developed by an indigenous Irish tech firm is to save a UK city council over £500,000 sterling in 2009.

The technology, developed by Dublin-based SupplierForce, enables Peterborough City Council to deliver ‘cashable’ cost savings through more transparent and more efficient management of its various suppliers.

As part of a vision to provide a modernised service to citizens, while keeping council taxes low, Peterborough City Council recently embarked on a major business transformation programme to revolutionise the way it operates internally.

The programme has already yielded the council £3.7m sterling in savings in 2008, with additional savings anticipated in 2009 and 2010.

“The £500,000 savings that Peterborough will make originate from just one of three modules SupplierForce will be rolling out for the council,” explains SupplierForce chief executive, Declan Kearney.

The company, which was founded in 2004, is just one of a growing number of Irish technology firms winning lucrative e-government contracts in the UK, such as Saadian and pTools.

The SupplierForce software is hosted in Dublin and is integrated into the council’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system via high-speed broadband connections.

Business transformation is a major theme running through UK government bodies as a result of the Gershon Report, which highlighted major inefficiencies in their operations.

“Councils such as Peterborough have been among the first to invest significantly in business transformation – changing the way they do things by introducing new controls and work practices,” says Kearney.

“Peterborough is using our technology to gather intelligence on suppliers and function more as a business rather than as a state body. It has also taken the back-office purchasing function and elevated it to being a strategic function that delivers bottom line to business.”

The executive director of strategic resources at Peterborough, John Harrison, says the delivery of cashable cost savings and council-wide operational efficiencies were key requirements.

“We had many procurement challenges, including an excessive focus on the transaction, and lack of visibility of risks and of who was buying what from whom,” Harrison says.

“The power in the relationship resided with our suppliers, while procurement typically found out about purchasing activity after the event.

“When SupplierForce introduced us to its solution, we realised this would enable us to centralise and control management of the supply base, enhance the value delivered by the procurement function and essentially enable the council to deliver on its corporate savings and compliance requirements,” Harrison concludes.

By John Kennedy