We helped a fire and rescue service upgrade their phone system and save thousands of pounds

The customer
Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service’s telephone system was using out of date technology, and each of the 24 individual station sites had their own phone system. This had led to a very complex telephony environment with high running costs, as every call made was billed as an external one.

BT also no longer had staff that could fix the old equipment, which created a significant risk to the organisation.

It was clear to Gavin Harris, Head of ICT at Nottingham Fire and Rescue Services that they needed to simplify and update their voice infrastructure system.

Upgraded phone system

The solution
Through the G-Cloud framework they chose risual to help them develop a new high-performance telecommunications network. This provided the opportunity to take advantage of new communications technology and remove costly legacy telephone systems.

A unified communications solution using Microsoft Skype for Business was chosen as it provided a host of benefits including:

  • reduced maintenance and line rental costs
  • excellent connectivity for multi device and channel communications, including text-based chat, video and audio calls
  • integration with old technology at fire stations to ensure an easy transition
  • a mechanism for distributing calls from publicly facing numbers to relevant departments and groups

The approach was described by Gavin Harris as:

“A revelation for us, the way risual work and their knowledge meant they were designing the solution to deal with problems before they could even become a problem.”

The results
Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service is seeing a huge reduction in costs thanks to the new system. They have also seen an increase in staff productivity and flexibility, as staff can now answer each other’s calls, and are no longer reliant on a site administrator at every location to respond to calls 24/7.

Gavin Harris commented:

“People are getting to grips with instant messaging and the rewards are being reaped already. We will save thousands and thousands of pounds in call costs. We will get more productivity from our workforce and the solution allows us to centralise the workforce and work a lot slicker. The G-Cloud framework made the procurement process very quick and easy, and ensured we were getting good value.”

Find out more
If you are interested in using the G-Cloud framework please get in touch.

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We helped a group of schools make great savings on tablets with a joint bulk buying opportunity

Background
Many schools routinely buy tablet devices as and when they need them. The CCS aggregation team and the Department for Education (DfE) wanted to help schools bring together their requirements and achieve savings through bulk buying power. Bulk buying power means we can negotiate better discounts thanks to the larger size of the requirement.

Student Image

The solution
We managed a procurement on behalf of 95 schools, who had submitted their interest in the project. Using the Technology Products framework, the schools selected the items and volumes that they wished to buy from a choice of tablet devices. The schools were also able to add on a range of associated items such as security marking, covers and charging stations.

The rest of the process was managed by CCS, meaning schools did not need to run any part of the procurement themselves. Running regular bulk procurements for multiple customers based on standard specifications is a tried and tested approach for CCS. Combining volumes helps attract more interest from suppliers and is proven to achieve better value for customers.

We run these projects as a fully managed service. Customers just need to complete a form to express their interest, provide details of their requirements before we go to market and sign a contract with the successful supplier.

The results
The project brought together the common tablet device requirements of 95 schools. A total of over 2,200 devices were bought, with savings of up to 36% against pre-auction value.

These results clearly demonstrate that by combining volumes and using a standard specification for a commonly bought product significant cost savings can quickly be achieved.

Val Williams, School Business Manager at Arundel CE Primary School commented:

“We took part in the joint procurement earlier this year as we were setting up a new Learning Resource Centre for our school. The application process was very straightforward and CCS offered us support all the way. The total saving to the school was just under £1,200, which has enabled us to purchase much needed books for our new centre. We would be happy to recommend this to other schools looking to use the service to save money in times when budgets are tight.”

Ross Crichton, Infrastructure Manager at Ashington Learning Partnership added:

“The process was very smooth. Once we had completed the template with our requirements we were able to sit back and allow the process to happen and we were informed each step of the way. As budgets are squeezed further every year, the fact we were able to save 20% on each device meant that this money could be reinvested into the IT infrastructure of the school, which benefited the pupils and staff by being able to purchase some new laptops.”

Get involved
Following this successful pilot, we have listened to the feedback from schools and made the process of joining in even easier. If you would like to find out more about taking part please get in touch.

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We helped a community college save £17,000 on photocopiers

The customer
Schools and colleges have often experienced difficulties in getting good value photocopier contracts, and it has been highly publicised in the past when things have gone wrong.

With this in mind, Sir Thomas Wharton Community College was keen to ensure that their leasing arrangements complied with procurement regulations, as well as saving them money.

The college’s governing body was nervous about entering into a contract because of the past media interest around issues with being locked into poor contracts. This meant the college wanted to ensure they could demonstrate a robust buying process that would give the governing body peace of mind.

Save on photocopier costs

The solution
The college decided to look at the CCS framework for photocopiers, as framework agreements take all the hard work out of selection. This is because all the suppliers have been through an evaluation process and must work to standard pre-agreed terms and conditions. It also means the leasing arrangements are fully compliant with procurement regulations.

What’s more, the CCS framework has a catalogue based buying option that has been designed specifically with schools and colleges in mind. Knowing the framework had been put in place by a government agency also gave the governing body confidence that it was the right buying solution to use and that they would have support if they experienced any issues.

The results
The college now leases 1 colour and 2 black and white photocopiers through the framework and has saved £17,000.

Their existing supplier had quoted a cost of £57,000 over 3 years, but they were able to access the same services at a cost of £40,000 through the framework – giving the college confidence that they were also achieving best value.

Sir Thomas Wharton Community College said:

“These savings help ensure we do not have to cut staff. The resource that makes a difference to the students is the human resource of a teacher. All schools should be using frameworks where they can. It is easy and frees up your time for other areas that need your attention.”

Find out more
To learn more about our printer and copier solutions for schools and colleges please get in touch.

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We helped North Ayrshire Council cut invoice processing by 45% through our ePurchasing Card programme

The customer
With its catering service generating more than 17,000 low-value transactions each year, North Ayrshire Council wanted to find a way to streamline their purchasing and accounts reconciliation process.

For example, each time one of the council’s kitchens bought supplies, an individual purchase order had to be raised, which then had to be matched to the corresponding invoice. This took a lot of time and often meant late payments for suppliers – a particular concern if the supplier was a small business.

CCS E Purchasing Card Programme

The solution
As a supplier on the CCS ePurchasing card framework, and with lots of experience working with councils across the UK, the Royal Bank of Scotland was well placed to help them.

Having discussed the ePurchasing card option, the council decided to put the scheme to the test, as using ePurchasing cards would mean authorised catering staff would be able to pay suppliers more quickly. It would also simplify VAT reclaim and make it easier for the council to monitor spend online instantly.

The benefits
Not only has the ePurchasing card solution meant that the council has 45% fewer invoices to deal with, 18% more are now being paid on time. Both kitchen staff and suppliers are benefiting from the easy-to-use system and, with fewer disputed invoices, the administrative burden is a lot lighter for the council.

Jill Houston, Procurement Manager at North Ayrshire Council said:

“Now we can pay a whole month’s transactions with a single direct debit.

Jill Devine, eProcurement Officer at the council added:

“Every commodity we purchase will be reviewed to assess its suitability for using an ePurchasing card.”

Find out more
To learn more about how your organisation can make savings and process efficiencies by using ePurchasing cards please get in touch.

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We helped 34 local councils save £8.8 million on IT hardware such as laptops, desktops and tablets

The customers
A group of 34 local authorities regularly combine their IT hardware requirements to maximise their buying power and achieve the best prices. The group is overseen by its own IT Contract Board.

The group recently decided to continue to pool their requirements to buy laptops, desktops, monitors, tablets, hybrids and thin clients over a 2 year period.

Helping save on digital devices

The solution
Non-brand specific technical specifications were developed by the group, taking into account the common needs of all participants. Feedback was also received from suppliers, via a request for information, as part of the procurement process.

By taking on board the supplier feedback the technical specifications were optimised to reflect the current market. The group then all agreed to buy the same minimum technical specification of goods.

The specification also covered a wide range of services including imaging, asset tagging, delivery and warranty options. Optional upgrades and downgrades were added to the core specification to ensure individual customer’s specific needs could be met.

The process
The contract board contacted the CCS technology aggregation team for advice on the options available, in order to repeat the success of previous procurements.

It was recommended that they use the Technology Products framework and run a further competition to achieve the most economically advantageous offer in the market, taking into consideration both price and non-price factors. It was also vital that technological advancement and price protection, including accounting for currency fluctuations, were fully catered for in the tender.

The further competition was concluded with an eAuction for approximately 48,000 devices. Only suppliers that were able to fully meet the stringent quality requirements were able to bid to offer their best prices in the eAuction.

Regular meetings were held with the board to agree things like evaluation criteria, lotting strategy and a communications plan. In addition, we provided advice on best practice procedures, highlighting potential risks and providing a number of recommendations to ensure the procurement was robust.

The results
Against a pre-auction value of £24.6 million for the 48,000 devices, the eAuction achieved savings of up to 44% when 6 individual baskets of goods were compared with a combination of current prices paid and independent third party benchmarks.

In total the eAuction is expected to deliver savings of £8.8 million over the 2 year contract.

Get involved
If you are interested in securing savings by combining your requirements with those of other organisations on a range of technology goods and services including mobile services, IT hardware and other telephony services please get in touch.

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We helped King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust save over £116,000 on their electricity costs

Background
Over 50% of the costs on electricity invoices are for industry charges that cover things like transport and distribution costs. These costs are known as non-commodity costs.

The energy market is complex and large users of electricity generally have meters that measure their electricity consumption on a half-hourly basis. How much they pay for their non-commodity costs is determined, in part, by their demand during 3 half-hours of highest demand on the electricity transmission system between November and February each year. These are known as ‘Triad’ periods.

By reducing their consumption over the Triad periods large users of electricity are able to reduce their electricity charges.

This can lead to substantial savings in transmission charges and across the NHS potential savings of £1.5 million have been identified.

King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

The solution
By using the CCS frameworks for half-hourly electricity and demand side response, customers receive notice of when these Triad periods may occur so they can take action to reduce their consumption or switch to standby generation.

This allowed King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and its Private Finance Initiative (PFI) energy centre operator, Veolia, to take action to reduce consumption during the Triad periods and make significant savings on their electricity costs.

On notification of a Triad period, the trust uses their on-site generating capacity, via their Combined Heat and Power (CHP) units, to reduce their consumption from the national grid. They have also made arrangements with Veolia to schedule planned maintenance work on their CHPs to avoid Triad periods in order to maximise the benefits.

The results
Cathal Griffin, the trust’s Energy & Environmental Manager and the team at King’s have been successful in reducing the trust’s electricity costs.

Knowing when the expected Triad periods are likely to be and being able to take action has so far saved the trust over £116,000 and the team expect to see similar, if not higher, savings in the future.

Cathal and the team are also proactively looking at other ways to maximise their energy savings potential via CCS frameworks, such as more energy demand shifting and capacity reviews.

Find out more
To learn more about how our energy team can help you reduce your energy consumption and costs please get in touch.

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We helped Calderstones NHS Trust save £60,000 on filling an interim position

The customer
Calderstones NHS Trust was looking to fill a high profile interim position and needed a candidate who had the experience to write and deliver a full business case for the acquisition of Calderstones NHS Trust by Merseycare NHS Trust.

It was essential that the successful candidate was familiar with dealing with the Trust Development Authority and NHS Improvement (formerly Monitor). With this in mind, the level of service and screening process, as well as the candidates, needed to be of the highest quality.

CCS help NHS trust save money

The solution
The trusts chose to use the CCS Non Medical Non Clinical framework as a compliant route to market to help them find a suitable supplier, and ultimately a candidate.

Castlefield Recruitment, an NHS specialist, was appointed as the supplier and quickly and efficiently provided a shortlist of high calibre interim options for the role.

By using the framework, the trust was able to receive the quality service they required and benefit from access to a transparent rate card, as well as the guarantee that the supplier had been through a thorough screening process.

The results
The trust has saved £60,000 alone on this placement, which highlights the potential for substantial savings to be achieved year on year by using our NHS Improvement approved staffing frameworks.

Using the framework also gave the trust peace of mind that the necessary candidate checks had all been completed.

Mark Hindle, Chief Executive of Calderstones Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said:

“Having recently worked with Castlefield Recruitment to source this Senior Consultant role, I would have no hesitation in recommending them as a recruitment Business Partner. Their knowledge and understanding of the NHS market, as well as our particular circumstance, was second to none.

“Overall we found their bespoke recruitment service to be transparent, honest and most importantly resulted in our organisation acquiring an excellent candidate along with a huge cost saving.”

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To find out how we can help your organisation with your temporary staffing needs please get in touch.

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We helped Worcestershire County Council recover over £180,000 using our spend analysis agreement

The customer
Worcestershire County Council, like all other councils, is operating in a difficult climate with reducing budgets and increased demand for many of its services. Having last undertaken a spend recovery audit of their accounts payable some years ago, the council felt it was the right time to commission a further review to identify and recover any overpayments to suppliers and receive advice on improving their current processes.

The scope of the project included a detailed examination of all expenditure with third parties since April 2008, to identify duplicate payments, overpayments, credit notes not processed and unclaimed VAT.

Worcestershire City Council

The solution
The council wanted to appoint an experienced supplier to undertake the project and had four objectives in mind:

1. minimising impact on the day-to-day routine of the accounts payable team
2. maximising recoveries
3. ensuring all communications with staff and suppliers were handled with complete professionalism
4. commissioning the project on a ‘performance-related’ basis

The council carefully considered their requirements and decided to use the CCS Spend Analysis and Recovery Services framework to appoint purchase ledger review specialist, Meridian V4 Services, via a direct award.

The results
Ruth Minors, Accounts Payable Officer at Worcestershire County Council said:

“We are very pleased with the manner in which the entire project has been undertaken. Engagement was made simple by use of the direct award facility available under the Spend Analysis and Recovery Services agreement, which was completed using a straightforward call-off form.

“The data extract process and recovery phase called for significantly less staff time and resource than we anticipated. Recoveries of duplicate payments were lower than expected, as a consequence of our use of specialist pre-payment checking software. However, Meridian added significant value to overall recoveries by their detailed analysis of statements and complex supplier accounts. Meridian’s account manager communicated with our staff and suppliers in an entirely professional manner.

“We would be happy to engage Meridian for a further audit and would recommend them to other councils considering a recovery audit.”

Find out more
To learn more about the Spend Analysis and Recovery Services framework (RM1037) and how it can help you identify savings please get in touch.

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We helped a Welsh start-up company win government business

James Smith and Steve Thair started their tech company, DevOpsGuys, just 3 years ago. Now they employ a workforce of over 40 people.

DevOpsGuys

Winning a government contract when they were just starting out fuelled the rapid growth of their business. James Smith said:

“When you have government in your portfolio you attract more business; it’s an instantly recognised, trusted brand. It gives potential customers the confidence to do business with you. We’ve doubled our turnover every year and we’re on track to do the same again this year.”

They have found that doing business with the public sector is just as easy as with any of their private sector clients, thanks to the G-Cloud framework, which has significantly streamlined both the contractual and invoicing process.

We are committed to working with more small businesses across the UK. If you know of any small businesses interested in working with government and the public sector they can register on Contracts Finder to search for contract opportunities worth over £10,000.

We have also introduced:

  • a new SME advisory panel
  • a simpler application process
  • a guarantee that suppliers’ valid invoices will be paid in 30 days or less

Here’s where your local businesses can find out more about doing business with government.

Got a question about working with SMEs?