23 August 2001 | Robin Parker
An e-procurement marketplace for purchasers at further education colleges across England, Wales and Northern Ireland is to begin trading next month.
FE Online, which has been developed by technology provider e-Government Solutions (eGS) on behalf of the Association of Colleges (AoC), aims to save the average college £355,000 a year, and reduce order and payment processing time by 90 per cent.
Areas set for online purchasing include IT equipment, stationery, office and classroom furniture, laboratory equipment and energy supplies. Annual spend for the 440 colleges is around £1 billion.
"The target initially is to put 80 per cent of spend through the system, to see instant savings, and ultimately to cover all spend," James Wilkington, eGS's e-procurement sales manager, told SM.
Users will put in a bulk request, which will be organised according to supplier and then sent off. More than 4,000 suppliers are listed on the website, drawn from established product catalogues such as Dudley and Global Direct.
According to the AoC, the main advantage of the system is that it allows colleges to meet strict tendering requirements.