As part of a continuous procurement reform program, the Scottish Government is focused on using procurement practices to drive a more dynamic, sustainable and inclusive economy. To do that, the government needed a national view of procurement spending.
Unifying data from disparate systems The Scottish Government spends more than £13.5 billion annually on procuring goods and services. However, public sector procurement data in Scotland is generated by disparate procurement and financial systems located throughout the country, which makes gathering and aggregating the data a significant challenge.
DXC Technology worked closely with the Scottish Government to establish the Scottish Procurement Information Hub to collect and combine data from over 100 public bodies, developing consistent, standardized and repeatable processes to transform the data.
Ensuring data quality
DXC applied its data engineering and data curation expertise to the many steps in the process. Procurement data experts now run data fitness checks to ensure that each of the public bodies submitting data is engaged in the process and that their data is accurate.
For over 15 years, DXC’s dedicated team of data analysts, data translators, data scientists, data engineers and data validators have worked closely with procurement experts in Scotland to gain a deep domain knowledge of procurement and the complexities of public sector contract data. DXC’s solution, which includes technology, supplier reference datasets, the proprietary vCode supplier classification taxonomy and data experts, provides the optimum balance of automation and human intervention, delivering continuous improvement of data quality and completeness.
The entire data transformation process is focused on business outcomes, driven by business questions and priorities.
This trusted data foundation, which is accessed through a purpose-built SaaS user interface or data APIs, is available on a self-service basis to a wide range of business users.
Improving data insights
One of the longstanding goals of the procurement reform program is to help facilitate collaborative procurement between public bodies.
With accurate procurement information, the Scottish Government and Centres of Procurement Expertise for each sector can leverage the collective spend across all public bodies and implement collaborative contracts to better manage suppliers.
The Scottish Government established national collaborative frameworks and put contracts in place designed to maximize the value of public sector funds by working in partnership with suppliers, purchasing organizations and centers of expertise. This collaborative national approach to procurement ensures that public money is spent efficiently and delivers maximum value to Scottish citizens, enabling inclusive and sustainable economic growth.
Making collaborative procurement work requires high-quality data. A spokesperson from the Scottish Procurement MI and Reporting Branch noted that the procurement data collection process has been optimized over time.
“The public bodies that provide data understand what is required and engage with the DXC team, which has refined the process of aggregating, cleansing and enhancing the data. Insights are available for individual procurement teams at the sector and national level much earlier than previously. This has delivered a positive impact as the information is widely used.”
With an emphasis on supporting economic, social and environmental well-being, the procurement reform program has served as a key enabler for improving public sector spending practices in Scotland.
The Scottish Government relies on DXC to provide spend analytics to address a high level of complexity, while being able to engage with each public organization to ensure the necessary data is being provided.
According to the spokesperson from the Scottish Procurement MI and Reporting Branch, “DXC has the specialist skills to bring all the data together into a common structure and consistently classify the spend.”
Benefitting Scottish citizens
While maximizing cost savings and efficiency in government spending has always been a focus, the program’s objectives and policies have evolved over the years.
More recently, the emphasis has been on how public sector procurement can be fine-tuned to deliver better outcomes for citizens in areas such as creating better opportunities for vulnerable people as well as for small and medium businesses.
“DXC is delivering spend analytics that are supporting the government’s community wealth building initiatives, which benefits Scotland’s economy,” the spokesperson says. By having accurate information on public sector suppliers, the procurement reform program has increased the spend with Scottish suppliers.
More efficient procurement also has environmental benefits. For example, using local small business suppliers reduces the carbon footprint because trucks operated by large businesses typically have to travel longer distances.
“DXC has the specialist skills to bring all the data together into a common structure and consistently classify the spend.”
A spokesperson from the Scottish Procurement MI and Reporting Branch
The government spokesperson adds: “It is essential to have access to high-quality data because it is used to provide accurate public spending information to Scotland’s regulatory bodies, politicians and the media, and to fulfill freedom of information requests. Through collaborative working and DXC’s efforts to ensure data quality, the time and effort required for the Scottish Government to respond to information requests has been reduced, and transparency of Scottish public sector procurement spend has increased.
“These bodies scrutinize and challenge the data, so it is important that we — and they — have confidence in the data. The data has been thoroughly analyzed and classified to ensure that the content is of the highest quality, and that makes a big difference,” the spokesperson says. “Being able to easily access information about spend at a national level down to an individual buying organization level provides us with huge benefits. Having a national view of spend across multiple years is something the Scottish Government is very proud of. International governments look to Scotland as an exemplar in this regard.”