19 June 2003 | Robin Parker
Purchasers got a taste of life on the other side of e-auctions in a special event at this month's CIPS E-Sourcing and Procurement show.
Thirteen purchasers and procurement consultants took the role of suppliers bidding online for a laptop computers contract for the fictional company, British Insurance Services (BIS).
The event, devised by Mike Fogg, a consultant at PMMS, and supported by e-auction software vendor Emptoris, was the climax of the show at London's Olympia conference centre.
The five supplier teams developed strategies and discussed BIS's needs with the buying team, which comprised Ian Taylor, head of procurement at HBOS, and Amanda Ferguson, central buyer at insurance firm WinterthurLife.
Despite minor technical glitches, the purchasers quickly got to grips with their new roles, and the winning bid of £1.8 million, from a consortium named Dalescom, came in at less than half of the contract's original price.
One team suffered a blow when their offer of cheaper computers - coloured pink - was declined on the grounds that the buyers would have preferred them in puce, a request the team could not meet.
Taylor, who has conducted three auctions to date at HBOS and is planning several more later this year, described the event as an exciting experience.
"The day has proved that although an online auction is often seen as being just about driving out cost, there is still plenty of potential to develop relationships and get ideas from suppliers," he said.