How the Scottish Government is changing lives with e-procurement

Posted by Pete Loughlin in e-Procurement, Purchase to Pay 14 Nov 2015

I’ve spent a lifetime trying to make it easier for people to buy things. I wouldn’t call it my lifetime’s work – my magnum opus – but I am proud of the contribution I’ve made. Until now.

Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not ashamed but my pride has been replaced by humility after seeing how how the Scottish government have deployed e-procurement.

We splash numbers on business cases and customer case studies to describe our genius. We cite efficiency savings and financial benefits as the reasons why we’re great at what we do. But then you see someone apply all of this great technology that we brag about in a new way, a better way – a way that is genuinely good – and we realise that this is much more than about money. This technology can make the world a better place. A better place to live our life, even if it’s a short life.

Every parent knows how challenging it is to look after a young child but few can fully understand the demands of caring for a child with complex medical needs. And a crippling 24-hour schedule of care isn’t helped if the ordering of medical supplies is difficult. What do you do if vital equipment fails in the early hours? Who do you speak to? What if you don’t know the technical details of the equipment you need? Requesting the “blue thing on the end of the tube” could result in all manner of wrongs things being delivered. This is the situation that faces the parents and full time carers of very sick youngsters who require attention around the clock and the Scottish government has come up with a way to help using a tool designed for big businesses to buy things.

e-procurement was designed to sit in the business to business arena. It’s really an industrial strength online catalogue that allows people in business to request goods and services, have their orders approved and delivered. The catalogues are restricted to preferred suppliers so that the business can take advantage of contracts in place so they get best value for money. A team from NHS Glasgow and Clyde, supported by the Scottish Government e-commerce team have applied these principles to the situation that home carers find themselves in. Using Elcom’s Pecos system, their in-house e-procurement tool, they are able to give carers their own bespoke online catalogue of goods specific to their own needs. Carers can place orders quickly and efficiently at any time of day or night. And because the orders are sent to the right place, deliveries can be fulfilled much more quickly.

But the benefits of this approach shouldn’t be measured in terms of business efficiency, although it does save time and money. The benefits are much more significant than that because the time freed up by this online ordering process means that carers get to spend more time on their real job – being a mum or a dad – and that’s priceless.

Pete Loughlin can be found on twitter @peteloughlin

  • Ian Burdon November 17, 2015 at 10:18 am /

    Nice piece, Pete. Thanks. It’s only fair to add that the initiative for this came from clinicians at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde who work with the children and families involved. The procurement team there gave it their backing, as did the Scottish Government eCommerce team. Consideration is now turning to other clinical situations where public access to the system can bring significant benefits.

  • Lynn Peterson November 17, 2015 at 1:55 pm /

    Just to echo Ian’s comment – the NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde team deserve the praise and recognition for this innovative use of PECOS. Please see the following article http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Government/Procurement/Procurement-News/newsvault2015/nhsgccpecos

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