NHS Digital is a public sector body, sponsored by the Department of Health. Its responsibilities include providing information, data and IT systems for commissioners, analysts and clinicians in health and social care nationally. Operating across 16 sites, its procurement department manages more than 300 monthly ICT orders placed by more than 2,500 users.
NHS Digital, like all publicly funded organisations, is always seeking to ensure that it makes good use of resources. The procurement team wanted to increase efficiency and improve its existing procurement system by digitally automating the process. Any new system would need to include oversight that allowed for multiple levels of authorisation.
Michael Flintoft, head of ICT at NHS Digital, said: “We had to keep the sign-off process in place but replace the simple electronic form filling that was taking up so much time. We needed a procurement tool that made the purchasing of IT equipment much quicker. With best value in mind, it was vital we had a system that could free up our team and deliver an effective system for the organisation.”
NHS Digital employed a Software and Services model, working with a non-developer team using the KnowledgeKube app platform to create a solution. The resulting on-premise application has automated the procurement workflow from point of approved product selection to purchase rationalisation. This includes aggregating up to 30 different ‘live’ data sources to deliver a bespoke catalogue of up to 10,000 products, including specialist bundled items. A concurrent user base of 2,500 has role-based visibility of products linked to them and can now place orders efficiently from numerous disparate locations.
Without writing code, KnowledgeKube’s simplicity has supported truly agile development, so NHS Digital has been able to implement ongoing iterations as functional requirements have extended. This allowed the procurement team to develop a third party ordering system, create a full auditing system and automate the invoicing process with complete interoperability across all systems.
Key application features include:
- Complex catalogue management
- Active Directory integration for role-based user management; requestor, approver, procurer, supplier
- Client definable workflow
- Integration with third party systems
With a procurement solution capable of managing the whole IT purchasing process, NHS Digital has been able to cut procurement time on low value regular-buy items by more than 75%.
More efficient staff
The ICT team took advantage of KnowledgeKube’s agility and has created several new functions, improving efficiency across the whole end-to-end procurement process. This is now providing the team with greater visibility across invoicing, auditing, stock management and third party ordering whilst allowing staff to act more efficiently.
“When we understood how easy it was to add functionality, we decided to create a fully integrated end-to-end system. This has provided us with a tremendous level of control – we are able to monitor all aspects of the procurement process. We can now, for instance, easily check whether a third party supplier has stuck to their SLAs in regards to the delivery of equipment. This is transforming how we operate and it is helping the team operate more efficiently,” said Michael.
NHS Digital now has a scalable application that is designed to be upgraded simply and easily, without huge cost or risk. This means the ICT and procurement teams should be able to evolve the system as requirements grow with the business over time.
Michael added: “We’ve already been able to increase the number of end users from 1,500 to more than 2,500. The solution we have is incredibly flexible and that is hugely reassuring. If we want to integrate another data source, for example, it shouldn’t take months of planning and involve huge costs – with KnowledgeKube we can just make it happen.”