19 January 2006 | Rebecca Ellinor
The London Borough of Enfield is to establish a permanent procurement team to benefit from dedicated buying expertise.
Last autumn Julie Oliver was appointed interim head of procurement, to establish a full corporate procurement department at the authority, which spends £223 million a year - 50 per cent of its budget - on goods, works and services.
The interim purchasing team will now hand over to a permanent 11-strong group of buyers, which the authority began recruiting this month.
Rona Bassett, interim procurement manager, told SM
the council had lacked an overarching procurement team to realise benefits across the authority.
"In many cases it was being charged full percentages in the marketplace and wasn't getting the best out of suppliers."
Mark McLaughlin, director of finance and corporate resources, said: "We needed a team that would take advantage of our spending power. We have professionalised the procurement function and our next step is to build a permanent team."
The interim team has so far reduced its supply base by 64 per cent, established a cross-council agreement for the hire of temporary staff and secured £157,000 savings on postal services.
Purchasing now has a remit to manage indirect spend in excess of £100 million and hopes to assist other departments with direct spend of around £125 million. It must also sustain savings in excess of £1 million in the next financial year and beyond.
The borough is also investing in technology. SAP SRM version five comes out this summer, but Enfield - working with SAP - will start implementing it this month.
The system will integrate existing e-auction and procurement tools and allow suppliers to input invoices. It is set to reduce tender times and provide spend information to use in negotiations.