Atamis and customers show flexibility in times of crisis for the greater good

It’s good to hear that the covid situation has produced some feel-good stories too, among all the uncertainty and fear in the health sector with regard to sourcing. In December 2019, UK-based procurement solutions provider, Atamis, was awarded the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) contract to implement a single eCommercial System across DHSC, its Arm’s Length Bodies (suitably termed The Health Family) and NHS trusts (The Health System) that wish to use it.

The platform would incorporate the e-procurement capabilities of e-sourcing, contract management, business case approval and supplier relationship management, all in one system to bring uniformity, visibility and better control to all spending departments. The implementation completion date was set to be June 1, but when the covid-19 crisis hit, and pressure mounted on the NHS and care sector to source suppliers, respond rapidly and achieve what seemed like impossible-to-find products in extreme short supply, Atamis was asked to pull forward the activation of the SRM module by two months.

As we know, a rapid implementation such as this can bring all kinds of challenges, not least the knock-on effect on the rollout of other modules, user acceptance testing, training and user adoption for an industry as large and complex as the health sector. But Atamis responded by prioritising resources to this project, and what makes this a particularly relevant and feel-good story, is that on the basis of complete transparency and openness, Atamis reached out to its other customers explaining what it had been asked to do for the heath sector – overwhelmingly, the client base responded positively, urging Atamis to put this effort before their own implementations for the greater good. Owing to sheer resource-management skill, it turned out that no other customer implementation was adversely affected while the project was completed under time and under budget, but the show of goodwill and solidarity among the customer base was testimony to how firms can pull together in times of need.

The ability to be flexible in times of crisis is crucial for vendors, so we spoke with Steve Balding, the Health System Commercial System and Data Strategy lead who led the Atamis implementation, to learn more.

“The Health Family, a huge collective of Department of Health bodies and subsidiaries, were using a diverse range of procurement systems,” he explained. “Two years ago we embarked on a roadmap of change to replace DHSC and ALB systems with one unified approach and a single commercial data strategy, with the economies of scale a bulk deal would bring.”

In December 2019, after a robust market research programme, the competition for a single eCommercial system, run by NHS Digital on behalf of DHSC, was awarded to Atamis. It was a fully collaborative project, and Health Family organisations submitted their specifications and requirements to be evaluated to make sure everyone would be happy with the new system.

Testing and training had commenced in January and user feedback was really positive. By March, users liked it so much that many didn’t want to wait until their existing system contracts expired, and wanted to migrate across sooner.

“Their reasons were based on ease of use and functionality, which were our primary requirements,” he said. “But it wasn’t just our users who would benefit – for suppliers it means they can register just once in the system and provide all their responses to NHS Digital, NHS England, DHSC and other organisations in one place, making it easier for them to do business with us. Because the Health Family organisations frequently use the same suppliers, it provides us with one supplier record, a single view of all contracts awarded to that supplier, their performance status, their contract status, right across the whole Health Family all aggregated into one dashboard, making it easier for us to improve supplier communications and relationships.”

Article by Nancy Clinton. Go to the Spend Matters website to read more.


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