Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council has improved the efficiency of its procurement operation by integrating a new e-procurement system with its finance platform.

The new eProcurement module from Infor allows the council to make time and cost efficiencies by automatically approving orders and matching purchase orders with goods received. It is connected to Blackburn’s existing finance solution, FMS Masterpiece, which is also supplied by Infor.

“It made sense to integrate with the finance system. If you have separate finance and purchasing systems it’s difficult to identify the costs of orders you place [the cost of the order as well as the cost of placing the order].

“[The integration means] you get the full picture [of cost],” said Kerry Patton, financial systems manager at Blackburn.

All the council’s users will be required to make purchases through the new system, which will help the council cut down on ‘rogue spending’. These include people who would circumvent the council’s existing corporate contracts with suppliers, and choose their own suppliers to buy from.

The implementation brings the e-procurement system in-house, replacing one from UKprocure Systems, which was hosted externally and separate from the council’s finance system.

Being on the same server as the finance system makes the procurement process faster, as it no longer relies on an Internet connection.

“One of the difficulties if you have a hosted system is it goes out across the Internet. There’s a lot of work being done [in the council] on the network, but the Internet connection is not as fast as it could be,” Patton.

In addition, the council expects to save more than £600,000 in costs over the next five years by migrating its finance solution from a Unix box with Ingres database to a SQL server.

“Infor wasn’t going to support Ingres anymore, so we decided to move to SQL with Windows platform, saving in license, maintenance and software costs,” said Patton.  

In the next stage of the project, Blackburn council is looking to implement e-invoicing early next year.