The School Trustees’ Association will launch an e-procurement portal, STAbuy, in April, four months later than it was aiming for.
The portal will be available for use by 2400 schools, enabling them to locate suppliers of goods and services and provide transparency in purchasing. It will also provide suppliers with market intelligence, something which to date has been difficult to obtain because of the fragmented nature of the market.
STAbuy development manager Lyndsay Cook says the project was held up by the complex nature of an agreement between the NZSTA, consulting company Cap Gemini Ernst & Young and software supplier Oracle. Further delays ensued when Ernst & Young, the original project consultant, was taken over by Cap Gemini.
Cook says the hold up meant the system was no operational for the start of the school year when schools do a lot of purchasing. However, he says the delay is not critical to the project.
Eight schools are trialling the system, ranging from Christchurch-based Burnside High, the largest, to Wellington’s Makara Normal School. Suppliers taking part in the trial are Corporate Express, Blue Star Group and one other yet-to-be-named supplier.
STAbuy has been taking the workflow processes from each school and implementing them into the system. For example, Burnside High School has the ability to have 60 people browse, 19 people requisition and five make approvals.
By the time the portal is launched next month, STAbuy hopes to have about 200 schools online and 20 to 30 suppliers.
Cook says the total education spend is $3.5 billion and STAbuy hopes to see about $1.2 billion passing through the system. STAbuy will charge suppliers 1% of the transaction cost and feed the revenues back to pay for its operation. The fee is capped at 1% because STAbuy is a non-profit company. Cook says all the schools will need is a browser.
Ultimately the e-procurement site will become a fully-fledged education community portal, he says. It is a reference site for both CGE&Y and Oracle and uses the e-procurement module of Oracle’s 11i e-business suite.