The Gloucestershire Association of School Business Management (GASBM) is open to all serving Business Managers, Bursars, School Administrators and Finance Officers in the area. A thriving group with membership of over 170 schools; meetings are held three times a year with a combination of presentations and, increasingly, workshop style discussions. In addition, they have a very successful and effective web forum which allows members to ask for support and advice on any aspects of school business management for example staffing, suppliers, policies and financial management.
• 8 schools participated
• 13 suppliers approached
• 5 competitive bids received
• Average savings across the group of 50%
• Total £ savings across the group just shy of £8,500 per annum
• Fantastic feedback from participants:
“An absolutely painless, quick and professional service that has saved the school money immediately.”
“This was our first experience working with Minerva and I've been very impressed.”
Group Chairman Martin Doidge attended a meeting of the Central England School Business Forum with fellow Chairs of other Business Manager groups UK-wide. The attendees wished to explore options to implement more collaborative procurement projects within their own Groups and Lorraine Ashover from Minerva Procurement had been invited to present on the subject. The group discussion clearly demonstrated that the attendees were keen to look for ways to disrupt the old adage of “if you keep doing the same things you will keep getting the same results” by exploring the benefits of greater collaboration.
After this meeting, Martin kindly invited Lorraine to present to GASBM members. Having given some background information and advice on procurement Lorraine suggested two ‘next steps’ for the group.
The first stage was to understand more about the procurement priorities of the wider group and a survey of members was conducted to gather this background information. The data captured will be extremely valuable in deciding on priorities for future projects as well as identifying possible sub-groups in certain spend categories and understanding more about contract renewal dates.
The second stage was to run an initial project to demonstrate the benefits of collaborative procurement. On Lorraine’s recommendation, the group agreed to test out a telephony project – telephony being the calls and lines (as opposed to mobiles, systems maintenance and systems). The reason this was chosen was due to the simplicity of how it runs, the ‘light touch’ nature of any implementation and the fact that all that was required of the Business Managers was one telephone bill for each contract. In addition, naturally one of the main aims was to look at making cost savings and Lorraine advised that, in her experience, this was an area where Minerva had previously had great success.
A small group of 8 schools agreed to participate in the project and received a detailed email advising of all the Terms and Conditions of the project, how it would run, what was required of them from a documentation and information perspective as well as some suggested timelines.
Throughout the project duration regular update emails were sent to the group advising on progress and any additional action required.
A full Request for Proposal (RFP) process was run and a total of 13 different suppliers were invited to participate, including all the incumbent suppliers for the schools. The RFP requested, but was not limited to, details of aspects of each business such as their insurance, financial standing, industry accreditations and contract terms. In addition, each supplier was required to provide a minimum of three references for Minerva to contact (ideally other schools).
The RFP included a detailed breakdown of the calls and lines data which had been collated by Minerva from each incumbent supplier. Based on this data the suppliers were requested to provide pricing for the services required.
A total of 5 competitive bids were received and evaluated by Minerva giving each school multiple options.
An extremely detailed bespoke Procurement Audit Report was produced for each school providing them with their individual pricing and a recommendation on what Minerva believed to be the best option available to them.
Minerva checked that all schools would, as a minimum, be receiving a service that matched their current one and, ideally, offered improvements.
Importantly, whilst the suppliers were asked to price based on the collaborative value of the contracts on offer, they were also advised to ensure that the pricing would apply regardless of how many contracts they secured. This allowed for the possibility that some schools might decide not to change their supplier (due to termination fees still in place or for any other reason).
Of the 8 schools involved in the project 6 have moved on to new contracts. Two chose not to: in one case the school was still in contract and although there was a much more competitive contract available the termination fees applicable to exit the existing contract early were prohibitive. The second school was extremely happy with their existing supplier and although there were savings available they felt that, on balance, they’d prefer to forgo the savings to remain with their existing supplier.
Of the 6 schools that took up new contracts they will be enjoying combined savings of just shy of £8,500 per annum – an average saving of 50%!
Minerva is now assisting each school with the migration of their calls and lines contracts to the new supplier and, with our customer care call program, will remain in touch over the coming months to ensure everything is delivered by the supplier as agreed.
It has been a pleasure to work with Lorraine at Minerva on the telephony services lines and calls project. The level of detail supplied in the report was excellent; the report explained the procurement process, the details of the proposals received and a summary of the findings. A beneficial saving was made with a minimal amount of time and input from myself i.e. only a few telephone bills and a copy of the contract. Although there is no obligation to take up the findings and recommendations I felt confident and reassured by Minerva’s in depth expert advice and research to follow their recommendation and achieve best value for the school.
In addition, Lorraine carried out a comprehensive quick ‘sense check’ of the proposed reprographic contract, accessing a network of internal and external resources she was able to provide me with a very useful detailed response.
So, thank you Minerva, I am grateful for being able to tap into your expertise and to receive such a responsive service.
Gill Taylor, Business Manager, Barnwood Park Arts Centre
From start to finish the whole procurement process was smooth and easy. All I had to do was provide current documents and then sit and wait for the results, which have given us a saving. We will definitely use Minerva again. Thank you very much.
Liz Halliwell, Finance Officer, Stroud High School
This was our first experience working with Minerva and I've been very impressed and I know that other SBMs in Gloucestershire who were involved have also been very pleased with the outcome of the tender exercise.
There was very little work required of us and Lorraine and her team have clearly spent a lot of time on the exercise and produced a very detailed report for each school involved, with some very positive outcomes.
Martin Doidge, Director of Finance & Administration, Cirencester Deer Park School
An absolutely painless, quick and professional service that has saved the school money immediately. There cannot be too much praise for the work completed.
Ann Price, Business Manager, Newent Community School & Sixth Form Centre