Procurement system training for UK city council
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Newcastle City Council has turned to the IT training consultancy, Optimum, to help design and deliver user training on its upgraded procurement system in a bid to further increase its purchasing efficiency. It’s the first time that the authority has given structured, formal training to a core pool of 400 staff who use the council’s procurement system from Advanced Business Solutions to buy £210 million worth of goods and services a year.
“Newcastle is a very diverse local authority and originally each of the council’s directorates handled their own purchasing training,” said Michael Page, the council’s procurement systems and performance manager. “So, over time, we found that people were using the system in lots of different ways which didn’t fit with the needs of the organisation as a whole.”
Optimum is Advanced Business Solutions’ preferred training partner and was able to provide Newcastle City Council with a training programme tailored to its specific needs.
Michael Page Procurement systems and performance manager
Data analysis from the system is used to identify areas for potential purchasing efficiency cost savings, which amounted to £2.8 million in 2009. To further that, the council recently streamlined its procurement processes and wanted to use Optimum’s training to ensure that everyone involved in purchasing understood the entire procurement cycle and its importance, as well as how to use the system in their jobs.
“Optimum’s consultant knew the system very well and brought a different perspective so we were able to be creative and share ideas from the outset,” said Page. “Their advice on how best to communicate with the audience made sure the training was really effective.”
Optimum helped design, develop and deliver a series of single- and half-day role-based, user-focused courses, ensuring all staff who carry out purchasing were trained in the same way and so had the same understanding of the system
“User feedback was overwhelmingly positive,” said Nicky Cortes, Optimum’s lead trainer on the project.
Optimum also wrote a complete set of training documentation including a set of quick cards for easy to access, back-at-desk help that were particularly well received.
The consultancy has a very flexible approach and as part of the contract trained Newcastle City Council’s own in-house trainers to take over and deliver the procurement system training to a wider group of users. “Our trainers benefited a lot from picking up on Optimum’s system user training skills and their materials,” said Page. “Having Optimum to pass on their knowledge definitely gave the whole process extra credibility.”