We worked with the Crown Commercial Service to create a new management information system and make life easier for public sector suppliers
The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) is the owner of a large number of commercial frameworks that enable public sector organisations to buy services and products from approved suppliers. The frameworks vary hugely – from getting laundry and linen services, to purchasing vehicles and tyres, to finding IT professionals or teams.
To support the running of all these frameworks, CCS is able to charge a commission from suppliers based on their sales. The system is responsible for processing all returns from suppliers on almost all of CCS’ procurement frameworks, covering £1.7 billion of government spending each month, allowing CCS to collect a levy totalling £2.8 million.
This means suppliers need to tell them how much business they have carried out each month. CCS had been using an online system called ‘Management Information System Online’ (MISO) for a while to collect this information. But feedback from suppliers was that the system wasn’t fit for purpose.
MISO was incredibly frustrating and time-consuming for thousands of suppliers to use, and that comes at a cost to their business. In 2018, CCS partnered with dxw to come up with a new service to replace it.
We replaced MISO with RMI
We worked with CCS through discovery, alpha and beta and created a completely new system – the Report Management Information service (RMI) – which makes life much easier for suppliers.
RMI is reliable, suppliers can upload spreadsheets of their invoices and the system provides user friendly ‘error messages’ if there are any issues when their information is validated. It has now replaced MISO which was at the end of its life, couldn’t cope with the number of users and couldn’t be iterated to meet changing needs.
What we did
What was wrong with MISO?
In short, MISO was built on outdated technology. It couldn’t cope with current volumes, and the system would become locked when too many users were accessing it at once. There were many other issues also being raised in feedback from users.
Understanding needs and pain points
In discovery, we analysed data from MISO to get more of an understanding of how people were using the system and what their pain points were. By working in house alongside the CCS team, we were also able to gain a good understanding of what they needed.
Error messages were a particular problem for suppliers. If something in a supplier’s upload didn’t meet validation requirements, the notification they received wasn’t clear about what action they needed to take. The old system also asked users for numerous pieces of information, which had to pass strict validation, but were then never used. We’ve made sure that in the new RMI system, all the information collected has a clear purpose.
Acting on what we found
By understanding suppliers’ needs, the technical aspects of the system, and the requirements and skills of the CCS team, we were able to build something that works really well for the organisation and suppliers.
Over the course of the project, we onboarded 23 frameworks to the new RMI system with the team at CCS. We also built a programming language that allows CCS to define the management information suppliers need to give under each commercial agreement. This allows CCS to onboard new frameworks themselves, using their own in-house technical capability.