Denbighshire County Council Adopts Full-Scope Procurement Process
Local Authority Now Extending on Way to Vision of Full-Scope
Denbighshire County Council covers an area which runs from the
North Wales coastal resorts of Rhyl and Prestatyn down through the
Vale of Clwyd, south as far as Corwen and the popular tourist town
of Llangollen. Largely a rural county, where tourism and
agriculture are the main industries.
The county was formed in 1996 as one of Wales' new unitary
authorities. At the outset a decision was taken not to have a
single county headquarters, but to have a number of office bases
throughout the area. County offices are found at Prestatyn, Rhyl,
Denbigh, Ruthin, Corwen and Llangollen.
In terms of procurement, Denbighshire has an annual spend of
about £130 million, over 4,500 suppliers, and about 180,000
invoices a year.
Like every local authority, Denbighshire County Council must
constantly strive to gain the best possible value from limited
funds in order to provide the services its citizens need and
expect. One of the most important ways of doing that is to closely
control the way money is spent for the many goods and services the
county procures each year. Of course that means making sure
purchases are properly authorised and accounted for within
established budgets, but it also means finding and using suppliers
who deliver the best value, and who consistently perform well.
Effective spend control is a challenge for any organization -
especially so for a local authority like Denbighshire County
Council, with staff spread across five directorates, six county
offices, nearly 70 schools, and dozens of other locations.
When an audit report made it clear Denbighshire needed tighter
controls over spending processes, managers quickly recognised that
a more robust purchase-to-pay system was needed. But rather than
address that issue in isolation, the County Council wisely decided
to lay the groundwork for a comprehensive procurement and spend
control system that would enable Denbighshire to fully leverage
emerging Public Sector initiatives like framework agreements,
electronic marketplaces, and consolidated supplier portals to truly
gain the best possible value for their citizens.
"We needed to start with the primary purchasing and payment
process, but we wanted a solution provider that could also help us
put in place the integrated sourcing, supplier management, and
contract management solutions we envisioned," says Arwel Staples,
Denbighshire's Strategic Procurement Manager. "We wanted to do some
pretty sophisticated things, and when we looked around, we found
there were very few software companies with that scope of
solution." Denbighshire also needed a solution that could integrate
with their legacy financial system, Masterpiece.
PROACTIS was one of the few software companies that could
deliver the type of solution Denbighshire was looking for. Once the
Denbighshire team saw the PROACTIS solution, and that they had the
knowledge, resources, and track record to make it happen, the
decision was made.
"In the end, we selected PROACTIS because we felt they really
understood procurement and were willing to work with us as
partners," says Staples.
Today, PROACTIS is deployed to approximately 300 Denbighshire
users, with that number growing to 1000+ as more functions are
brought onto the system and more purchases become PO-driven.
Catalogues and supplier website punch-outs have been established
for commonly purchased items.
"PROACTIS purchase authorisation and invoice processing
workflows are very flexible," says Rhys Jones, Denbighshire Senior
Management Accountant and P2P Project Manager. "It was quite easy
to set up budget checking and purchase approval rules based on the
organisational structure, financial thresholds, and other factors;
and to establish invoice matching tolerances and troubleshooting
Most day-to-day purchases are handled directly by department
staff. Purchases for items requiring special knowledge, such as IT
equipment, are handled by designated people. In those cases, a
PROACTIS requisition/PO workflow is used. Department managers and
other authorisers receive email alerts for purchase requests
requiring approval, and link directly into PROACTIS to see the
details, check budgets, and make approvals. "Managers are
especially happy with PROACTIS because they have much better
visibility of commitments against budget when processing a PO
request," says Jones.
All County offices, schools and other locations access the
PROACTIS system via the web. Purchases and invoice registration are
handled at the office level while keeping all information
consolidated in the central database. Utilising PROACTIS
multi-language capabilities, all online functions are available in
either English or Welsh. The largely decentralised procurement
system is integrated with Denbighshire's centralised financial
system for budget and commitment checking, and an in-house AP
system for payment processing.
With deployment of the purchasing solution well underway,
Denbighshire is now beginning implementation of PROACTIS
procurement solutions to manage sourcing and contract management.
"The PROACTIS applications allow us to establish process templates
for each type of sourcing event and contract, then guides users
through the designated steps in a consistent manner, enforcing
rules and providing full transparency," says Staples. "That's an
extremely important point to us since the people who do the
sourcing and manage contracts are people who do these things only
occasionally as part of their normal functional responsibilities.
Without this type of control, it would be much harder to ensure
compliance." The sourcing solution also makes it practical to open
up the RFQ process to more potential suppliers using electronic
notifications and automated response grading. "That's also very
important to us - especially in today's economy where more
potential suppliers want the opportunity to submit proposals, and
of course we want to get the best possible value," adds
In summary, Staples states: "We feel PROACTIS has a very
comprehensive spend control and eProcurement solution that is well
suited to the Public Sector. Partnering with PROACTIS, we feel
we're well on the way to realising our full-scope procurement