26 November 2008 | Paul Snell
A collaborative procurement contract for IT hardware has saved three colleges in the North West of England around £100,000.
The deal for 1,200 desktop PCs is the first collaborative procurement of its type in the further education (FE) sector.
The three colleges - Preston, Lancaster and Morecambe, and Accrington and Rossendale - used a framework agreement from the Crescent Purchasing Consortium to select a supplier and estimated they saved £100,000 on initial benchmarked prices.
The colleges have been encouraged to take up collaboration and the benefits it can bring by the FE procurement team at the Learning and Skills Council. Last year MPs said colleges were "let down" by their procurement and needed to improve buying processes (Web news, 5 October 2007).
Darren Lowe, procurement officer at Preston College, who led the project, said the deal had already attracted the interest of others in the FE sector: "We will certainly repeat the exercise for PCs next year with other Lancashire colleges. And we have met as a region to discuss other items such as furniture and AV equipment."
He added the project had not only led to greater collaboration in procurement teams, but also had got IT departments across the colleges talking with each other.