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Public Spend Forum was delighted to hear the news that the UK Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has won the ultimate and overall prize at the 2018 CIPS Supply Management Awards Europe. The department also won the ‘Most Innovative Use of Technology’ award at the event, one of the 10 team categories covered.

The winning entry was based on the department’s use of an innovative Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) “to support a light-touch procurement regime that helps unemployed people get back to work faster by allowing a wide range of training providers to work with DWP and job seekers, in a controlled but flexible manner,” explains the press release.

Supply Management reported: “The project, which gave buyers access to a bank of bids via a user-friendly platform from which they could rapidly generate a shortlist and appoint a preferred supplier, also earned DWP Most Innovative Use of Technology. First year headcount and efficiency savings totalled more than £1m.” So congratulations to DWP on this success story, and congratulations to the innovation behind it – we took a slightly deeper look at the technology driving this project.

It was designed and implemented by software firm Basware, a leading player in the global networked source-to-pay, e-invoicing and innovative financing services market. Its DPS with the DWP went live in October 2016, and more than 1300 accredited suppliers have been added to the contract. To its credit, 75% of them are SMEs. So far 22,954 training places have been purchased by Jobcentre Plus through this platform, helping claimants move into employment, and enabling DWP to make significant efficiency savings too.

Basware has been working with DWP throughout a 10-year-long relationship, understanding procurement and efficiency needs and building solutions to meet them, helping to support the DWP’s delivery of services to its user community.

Part of the department’s finance transformation programme 10 years ago, saw the development of (Basware’s) eMarketplace, integrated with Oracle’s ERP, as a key part of the department’s eProcurement platform. One of the challenges for the eMarketplace was to help accelerate the DWP’s ‘Welfare to Work’ programme, in which jobseekers could gain training to help them return to work more quickly. The platform offered a more cost-effective route to what was previously a highly administrative and lengthy process, often resulting in delays to delivering training, as is typical of these types of one-off, lower-value requirements.

The platform did away with the manual sourcing of training providers, instead suppliers could be sourced instantly from a preregistered bank who had quoted electronically, meaning training was delivered faster and resulted in suppliers being paid more promptly through an automated and secure PO and invoicing system. In fact, the Department has reduced the time from arranging and delivering training, and paying suppliers, from approximately 60 days to six. Ultimately, this has made entering this government market more attractive to smaller training providers.

So this is a great success story all round – Basware has been working with the public sector since 2006, helping to transform government procurement through collaboration, compliance and greater transparency; the DWP success story is testimony to its work. We spoke briefly with Darryl Owen, Director of Customer Relationships at Basware, who had this to say:

“We are incredibly proud that our long-standing client DWP has picked up these highly coveted awards. The Basware Marketplace has helped thousands of people get back into work faster and enables DWP to work more efficiently and we’re so glad these achievements have been recognised by CIPS.”

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