03 August 2006 | Paul Snell
Technology is playing a large part in improving procurement at one of the UK's largest charities.
Online auctions run by Cancer Research UK to buy laboratory equipment, office supplies and IT have shaved £2.5 million a year off the charity's bill compared with previous prices paid.
The e-auction for laboratory equipment produced a 33 per cent saving and the cost of office supplies and IT was reduced by 30 per cent and 20 per cent respectively.
The savings are part of the charity's procurement improvement initiative which is intended to reduce its £130 million purchasing budget by 10 per cent by March 2008.
Belinda Turner, procurement director at Cancer Research, told SM that the charity is adopting a more strategic approach towards purchasing.
"E-auctions are the first step," she said. "Eventually we hope to be able to manage all our tenders online. We want to give our team all the tools to support their work."
Turner said the charity also plans to introduce e-sourcing and purchase-to-pay systems.
The use of procurement technology is not widespread among charities but, she said, Cancer Research will actively encourage others to use it via the Charities Sector Procurement Group, which encourages best practice in purchasing.
A spokesman for the Charity Commission commended the efficient use of resources, but said there are no plans to enforce the use of e-procurement because it could be unworkable for small organisations.