UK Government announces single supplier registration system- interfaces will be key

The UK Cabinet Office announced recently a new system to provide a “single registration point” for suppliers. The GPS Single Supplier Registration solution will replace the existing SID4health system in the health sector, and will also apply to “the Government eMarketplace, the Dynamic Marketplace, eSourcing tools, spend analysis tools and various enterprise resource planning (ERP) business management systems across Government plus a range of category specific tools”, according to the Cabinet Office.

As ComputerWorld UK reports,

Government Procurement Service (GPS) has awarded a contract to NQC to develop the new Single Supplier Registration platform, which will host over 80,000 registered suppliers and support almost 80,000 customers.

That’s why we asked GPS to bring together the current myriad systems and tools into one single place of registration, holding accurate and up-to-date information on suppliers,” said Maude.

The new system will be operational for the health sector from April 2013 apparently, which seems remarkably rapid if they have just awarded the contract? Other sectors will follow. And the system will be aligned with Dun & Bradstreet data “to standardise supplier identification across government”.

I need to understand better exactly how this is going to work, but it is clearly a sensible idea – one that I know has been talked about for many years in government, going back to OGC days. We'll see if we can get a briefing from Cabinet Office sometime soon.

I suppose the note of caution comes from the fact that the chosen supplier are developing the system. Weren't there off-the-shelf and existing supplier registration systems that might have met the requirement, perhaps with a modicum of tinkering? Such systems are marketed by many procurement software vendors – from small firms like Trade Interchange to the Xcitec product now part of the Emptoris / IBM suite. One assumes the government’s specification didn't match existing products? But we all know that building software doesn’t always go to plan, so we'll reserve the full congratulations for implementation.

It's obviously great news for NQC Ltd, based in Manchester and an SME themselves to boot. Their executive Chairman is John McClelland, a much respected former IT executive and author of the McClelland report on public procurement for the Scottish Government in 2006. So he's someone who certainly knows how the public sector works and what is needed in the procurement space.

A couple of other observations. It's not clear whether the system might in time replace supplier registration needed for the vast range of sourcing solutions used in other parts of the public sector -local authorities, police forces, hospitals and so on. I assume that NQC will have to provide interfaces to Emptoris (GPS eSourcing) and ProcServe (GPS Marketplace etc) but will the system be flexible enough to work with sourcing solutions used in other parts of the public sector such as Wax Digital, Proactis, Due North, BravoSolution, and others? I'd be interested to hear from the solution provider side on this.

Anyway, at least two cheers for Cabinet Office, and we'll watch the health implementation next month with interest.

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Voices (2)

  1. Market Dojo:

    This is great news that the government is finally catching up with the times. A single sign on is synonymous with the new breed of SaaS software which is defined by a multi-tenant environment. We have found that this direction is very advantageous for the software provider and their customers. By creating a platform in this way allows the solution to be streamlined and much more cost effective. The efficiency created by maintaining a single database and platform lets the software company be more focused in the assignment of resources to assist every customer and also developments can be rolled out more quickly.

  2. Mike:

    Obviously nothing new in the principle of supplier registration portals – there’s plenty of them around – and it appears sensible to rationalise multiple registrations to a single point to support the GPS eEnablement Strategy. However I’d suggest there is much to do in altering behaviours across the Government buying community as well as gaining the confidence of suppliers.

    Experience shows that the existence of such tools (including SID4Health) does not prevent individual Contracting Authorities asking for most if not all, supplier’s details to be re-entered into PQQs time and time again. I have been asked more than once for a SID4Health registration number and still had to effectively enter identical details in PQQs. Also the sheer scale of migrating hundreds of thousands of supplier records into a single place cannot be underestimated. This is a massive undertaking and I’m afraid to say was (in my experience) unsuccessful when supplier records were migrated from one iteration of SID4Health to another and records seem to simply disappear.

    So I wish NQC and Cabinet Office well in the challenges ahead. I really do hope that this is a success as Single Supplier Registration, properly administered, would be an undoubted benefit to buyers and suppliers alike. It would be fantastic if there wasn’t the need for suppliers to maintain multiple registrations on portals and repeat the same details in PQQs or for suppliers to have to retain log-ins to dozens of eSourcing portals.

    I will watch this space with interest.

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