How e-Sourcing Is Used in Practice at Crossrail — a BravoSolution Case Study

Warning!  jargon alert:

'e-Sourcing is the use of secure web-based collaborative tools by procurement professionals and suppliers to conduct the strategic activities of procurement; it provides procurement practitioners with a solution to help reduce costs, centralise information, ensure repeatability and auditability of the sourcing process and gives instant feedback through an interactive process via better application of strategic sourcing.' – you can breathe now!

It's all true - undeniably. But we can all read the text book prose that describes why for efficient and effective procurement processes we need to invest in e-procurement, or specifically e-sourcing tools. What it doesn’t tell the heads of procurement who have to make these decisions is how this really works in practice. What's wrong with what we are already doing? Who is actually using this software on a daily basis? What are the business drivers that lead a firm to invest in these tools? How can they realistically transform your procurement process? And what are the real business benefits derived from implementing such tools?

Nothing can answer these questions better than a company that has already done the ground work - implemented, tested, surmounted the challenges and reaped the benefits, especially if that company is as widely known as Crossrail Ltd. BravoSolution recently published a case study on Crossrail, one of the most significant infrastructure projects ever undertaken in the UK and currently the largest construction project in Europe, and how it has implemented and uses BravoSolution's e-Sourcing Suite for all sourcing activity for every project, across the entire Crossrail programme.

Here are a few excerpts from the report you might find interesting - or you can read it in full.

"This mammoth £14.8 billion-spend project must ensure that all goods and services are sourced efficiently, fairly and cost effectively ... the programme is large and multi-faceted and the supply chain long and diverse. It has committed contracts worth £11 billion so far, including major tunnelling contracts and main construction contracts. Tight control over the sourcing process and pin-point accuracy of stored and disseminated information is essential to its management."

Asked why Crossrail implemented e-sourcing, its Procurement Production Manager said "Crossrail is on a tight timeline, so keeping it on track and hitting targets is very important. We are under pressure to hit key milestones, while following strict compliance rules, and generate cost savings, so a consistent process is paramount. The software helps us make efficiency gains and provides us with a robust system with which to accurately track and monitor progress.”

This detailed case study gives an insight into some of the challenges Crossrail faced and overcame which are universally applicable to any firm about to embark on the implementation of a new e-procurement system:  "Many organisations, especially in the public sector, need to undergo a cultural shift in order to change to an automated process. New technologies are not always welcomed by people who are used to doing things in a certain way." -- Head of Procurement.

It tells us how Crossrail has ensured a fair process for supplier selection: "When we publish the ITT all Tenderers have the same visibility and are all alerted to any modifications. We can ensure via the system that a fair process is applicable for all.”

And how automation has transformed the timeliness of the tender process: "This automation gives us peace of mind that all suppliers receive the information at the same time to comply with EU rules ... The software has also helped us with the logistics of the documentation (some tenders containing thousands of documents), paper versions would not have allowed us to package, distribute and receive the tenders in an efficient and timely manner.”

Also detailed is how the e-sourcing system provides a valuable central document repository and communications tool, ensuring a secure and robust audit trail: “The system allows us to interrogate the data at any time ... Should a message or communication not get picked up promptly, we are aware. It gives us full visibility of who received an amendment, who opened it, and which documents have been downloaded. We have available to us accurate and demonstrable evidence, in the system, that appropriate communications were made, and when.”

You can also read how the company uses the data for monthly reporting and to answer enquiries.

If you'd like to read the whole case study it's here or just go to the top right-hand column of our site and click on the BravoSolution banner.

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