Headlines: June 6th, 2008

Schools across England can now collaborate, to buy and pay for goods and services more efficiently online. It follows the linking of Capita’s SIMS management information system to the Department for Children, Schools and Families’ online procurement portal, OPEN, for web ordering of all the items schools need.

More than 22,000 schools use SIMS, which becomes the first MIS system to link directly to the OPEN eProcurement engine. The move means 15,000 schools which use the Financial Management System will be able to import automatically online purchase and invoice information, ending the need to re-enter order information.

Phil Neal, Director of SIMS,at Capita said that linking it to OPEN would mean teachers, bursars and school office staff could be freed from the paperwork often associated with ordering supplies in schools. “The result will be an efficient, paperless system whereby all transactions are completed electronically from request for purchase, authorisation, invoicing and even payment, if desired. Time will no longer be wasted keying in order or invoice information into a school’s financial systems as this can now be done automatically from OPEN,” he said.

School staff will be able to search online catalogues from educational suppliers via the OPEN web site, comparing prices and product features. Chosen items are then added to a shopping basket in the same way as using a supermarket website. Information can then be transferred automatically to SIMS to raise the approval for a purchase order and a supplier can raise an e-invoice which is imported into SIMS.

Phil Neal said linking the systems was a leap forward that would free time for other, more important tasks and reduce the risk of accountancy errors.