Wakefield Grammar School Foundation is one of the country’s leading families of single-sex independent day schools. There are four schools in total, including Queen Elizabeth Grammar School (QEGS), Wakefield Girls’ High School (WGHS) and in addition to both QEGS and WGHS having a junior school with a Pre-Prep. There are approximately 2,100 students across the four schools with ages ranging from three to 18 – plus a further 500 employees.
With a large estate to manage and extensive day-to-day operations, the Foundation is continually looking at ways of creating operational efficiencies and cost savings, while having a clear view on how budgets are being allocated across the organisation.
Bursar and Clerk of Governors, Laurence Perry, explains: “Following the feedback from the catering consultant we decided to seek help from a procurement partner and chose Pelican Procurement Services to support us in a tender process for our food. With an annual food budget of over £650,000, we were interested in seeing what savings could be realised without diminishing service or quality. A hard task perhaps, but with help from a specialist, we knew it was entirely feasible.”
Paul Roberts, Catering Manager, says: “The primary driver for me is service – I need to know that when an order is placed, it will be delivered at the right place, at the right time and to the quality that we expect. Our kitchens serve over 2,500 meals every lunch time and so we simply cannot be let down on service. Price of course is important, however that can always be negotiated.”
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A painless procurement process
“For me, the whole tender process was painless,” affirms Paul. “We met the suppliers and the people that really matter, including head of transport and telesales. The attention to detail from Pelican was excellent. It hadn’t been done in such depth before and Pelican handled everything: negotiating, appointing, governance checks, development of agreements. It was a seamless and painless process.”
Laurence Perry confirms: “The tender process has led us to not only save approximately £75,000, a surplus that can be reinvested elsewhere across the Foundation, but has given us operational and resource savings.”
Paul continues: “I’ve found Pelican to be very professional. There’s a lot of expertise in the business and they are willing to let us tap in to that knowledge at any time. It’s my first experience of using a procurement operation like this and I would highly recommend it to other independent schools looking to save time and money without lessening quality, choice or service.”
Another important element for the group of schools is compliance: with regular inspections from the Environmental Health, the Foundation is required to present compliance documents relating to their suppliers, on request. This is all available from Pelican, who already have obtained such information from their supplier network, which as Paul says is “another weight off my mind.”
A powerful, cloud-based financial system
From the financial management and control perspective, the way in which the schools now manage their supplier invoicing has evolved. The team now use Pi, Pelican’s award-wining cloud-based system, which provide them with greater control and transparency over finance and purchasing matters, from accessing supplier invoices, or downloading management reports, through to assessing individual orders made by the chefs at each of the school’s kitchens.
Paul says: “Before, all invoicing and recording of orders was manual. Now, with the Pi system it has consolidated the way the inbound invoicing is managed and has saved our finance department three full days on invoicing matters alone. This is a massive saving. We can all view the data from the same web portal and have access to analysis, the ordering dashboard, management reports, budget analytics, total spend by category or kitchen, view invoices or even find individual orders by line item if needed. The time this has saved us is significant.”
Laurence Perry concludes: “While Paul deals with Pelican on a day-to-day basis, I tend to have a broader view on the partnership and to me it is clear that we now have greater transparency of finances, improved visibility and control on what is spent where, and have set supplier agreements; all of which deliver real advantages to our organisation, every day.”