As readers of Information Age will know, UK government IT projects are most commonly mentioned in the press in the context of cataclysmic failure or disastrous overspend. So it makes a refreshing change to highlight a successful public sector IT deployment.
The adoption by many government departments of e-procurement tools from BravoSolution, winner of the Business Application Innovation Award, has been described by the National Audit Office as one of the most successful government IT projects and has, according to the supplier, saved the UK taxpayer £300 million.
BravoSolution’s tool is a software-as-a-service offering, and as CEO Nader Sabbaghian explains, the process of procurement is one that lends itself to operating on the web. “Sourcing is about engaging with suppliers outside the organisation,” he says. “The web has created the opportunity for that to be supported by software.”
The solution benefits organisations in two ways, Sabbaghian says. The first is by reducing the time spent by employees on the procurement process, which for many organisations is still paper based and slow. By keeping a record of that process in a single repository, the software also allows it to be audited more easily.
This is especially powerful among government organisations, he says, where procurement processes can take months. “They can literally cut 50% out of their procurement processes with our solution,” Sabbaghian claims.
Secondly, functions of the software – such as the ability to conduct reverse auctions – help customers to get better deals from their suppliers. That particular function has been used by the NHS, for example, in procuring pharmaceuticals.
According to Sabbaghian, the BravoSolution tool does not impose simplicity on the procurement process; instead, it allows users to build a number of extra requirements into the process. Preconfigured analysis tools, meanwhile, do simplify the process of evaluating bids and analysing which suppliers are the most valuable over time.
Sabbaghian says BravoSolution is primarily focused on making sure its system is well adopted by its customers. “As a software-as-a-service provider, you have to focus most of your attention on adoption,” he says, “because customers can easily jump.”
Runner-up – Platform Computing
Platform Computing won the runner-up slot in the Business Applications category with its project in partnership with CERN to build a utility computing platform that helps analyse data produced by the Large Hadron Collider. Hardly a typical business application, but it is certainly a reflection of computing technology at the cutting edge.
Other award categories
Winner – Hitachi Data Systems
Runner-up – Optier
Winner – Keysource
Runner-up – Digital Realty Trust
Winner – Digital Realty Trust
Runner-up – Telecity
Winner – Websense
Runner-up – Unity Enterprise Solutions