Many benefits from e-procurement come from re-engineering the procurement function in preparation for new technology. This is a key finding in a report ‘e-Procurement in the UK Public Sector: a guide to developments and best practice’, prepared by Leeds University and commissioned by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy.The report authors looked at the total procurement process starting with the assessment of business needs through to the asset being brought into use or decommissioned. They found that e-purchasing, which is confined to electronic systems that support requisition through to payment of goods, is used by less than one-third of local authorities.
The report warns that applying expensive technology to a deficient manual purchasing process is a recipe for organisational disaster. Introducing electronic systems will do little more than expose existing deficiencies at considerable extra cost. It urges that before embarking on e-procurement there should a review of strategy and practices to make sure that the far reaching benefits can be achieved. Many of the issues to be resolved in e-procurement are nothing to do with the ‘e”,
E-procurement should be viewed as an enabling mechanism, because the technology is often a great galvanising force which impells management to rethink practices so that maximum advantage can be gained from electronic systems.
The report will be launched at a seminar in Leeds on 13 February.