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An NHS Trust Partnership

We were approached by a partnership, which was working with four NHS trusts. The partnership exists to make the trusts more efficient and make cost savings. Their objective is to fulfil commercial objectives and manage the complex supply chain. They also oversee continuous improvement in the trusts.


The partnership was purchasing hundreds of thousands of products for the trusts. They were dealing with a vast number of SKUs daily. Suppliers submit a monthly spreadsheet with purchasing data. But because the spreadsheets were all formatted differently, the partnership was unable to use software to help with the analysis and the data was hugely inconsistent.

  • Data couldn’t be extracted with software, so it couldn’t be collated and analysed in bulk
  • Data analysis was done by eye, which was extremely slow and inaccurate
  • The data analysts were wasting their time manually validating spreadsheets or chasing suppliers about errors
  • There was a high-level of stress in the team
  • The suppliers were frustrated with the system, eroding client relationships
  • Spreadsheet errors were taking months to be resolved
  • Data analysts couldn’t concentrate on cost saving and efficiencies without accurate spending data


We created a platform to address the needs of the partnership and the supplier. The supplier can upload a spreadsheet to the platform, which identifies errors in the spreadsheet before submission. This means the supplier can correct the errors without the email tennis with the analysts.

  • Delivery of estimated £200k pa cost saving + 7 figure opportunity generated through analysis
  • Labour savings due to correct use of staff and resources
  • Accurate collation of data, vital for business health
  • The data analysts are able to concentrate on cost savings and efficiencies across the trusts, saving the NHS millions of pounds
  • Improved client relationships thanks to easier data submission
  • Improved staff wellbeing, due to stress reduction

How we approached the problem

We ran a stakeholder engagement session with the partnership and a range of their suppliers, to find out what they needed and what they wanted to get out of the platform. It was crucial to find this information out from the people who would be using it.  We also mapped out the AS-IS process and then collaborated with the stakeholders on a new TO-BE process, which they all bought into.

This allowed us to understand the NHS's pain, but also the needs of the end users to deliver a platform which catered for both.

What was needed

The current system was causing massive inefficiencies for both the partnership and their suppliers. The partnership existed to create cost savings for the NHS, yet they struggled to collect the data they needed to analyse their spending. Even if they had had the correct data, data analysts were being deployed to deal with inconsistent spreadsheets - a poor use of their time. It was a huge waste of time, money and resources. The stress in the team was unsustainable, and relationships and staff morale were suffering as a result.

The partnership needed a platform which would consume complex spreadsheets submitted by a range of suppliers from small family businesses to multi national pharmaceutical companies. These submissions could have hundreds of thousands of rows per supplier, and this platform needed to spot issues in near real time with these submissions, and flag these to the suppliers. This involved a complex set of validation rules, and complex cross referencing with NHS data behind the scenes, in a seamless way. Suppliers needed a way to see these issues and quickly fix them in bulk through the platform, before it's submitted for approval to data analysts.

The partnership estimated that this alone would save £200k per year, and speed up submissions lifecycles from months to days. Given this manual process also required high input from suppliers, it likely saved a significant sum across suppliers.

Behind the scenes, there was much complex function/process made easy. For example, the partnership needed easy ways to define frameworks/lots/sub slots for submissions, and an easy way to define templates for submission fields and validation rules. This meant that the system was flexible enough to deal with new frameworks/lots without developer intervention. An approval process meant only clean and approved data was approved for analysis.

This created a clean data set which could be consumed by PowerBI and Alteryx for enterprise level data analysis.

We delivered this solution, as well as an API for larger suppliers to automate their submissions.

What we did

We achieved the following objectives:

  • Delivered an estimated £200k per year saving in staffing costs by moving all validation to be at the ‘point of entry’ and automating template management
  • Vastly reduce the turnaround time for contract variations for the suppliers, by automating validation and shortening all validation feedback time
  • Creating 7 figure data analysis opportunity, via high quality data
  • Provide a consistent supplier experience by unifying the process across all areas
  • Reduce error and manual management by automating the template management and validation

How we did this:

We developed a platform that would address the needs of both the NHS Partnership and the suppliers, solving business critical and expensive problems for both stakeholders. Both the partnership and the supplier were onboarded onto a system that was automated, eradicating the manual inaccurate processes, in a stress reducing way.

The platform we developed would validate all data on supplier submission, removing any need to distract data analysts with bad data. The supplier would have the issues highlighted to them, so they could fix them at source. This omitted the need for chasing by the NHS partnership. In addition, all of the purchasing data was collated immediately, providing accurate figures for purchasing and forecasting. Cost savings could be spread over all of the trusts. Data analysts could focus on data and adding value via high quality analysis, rather than chasing suppliers.

We developed an API so that the suppliers could connect their systems to the platform. The supplier could then automate their uploads if they wanted.  This is to directly cater for a range of stakeholders, from a small family business up to large multinational pharmaceutical companies.

Before we launched the platform, a massive amount of labour was required just to manage the spreadsheet submission. The automation of the process has saved the partnership a huge amount of employee time. The data analysts are now able to concentrate on cost savings and efficiencies across the trusts, rather than data management. This has facilitated delivered millions of pounds of cost-savings to the NHS.

This solution connected into the NHS partnership's PowerBI & Alteryx capabilities, meaning they were able to reuse their existing infrastructure to perform high quality analysis of this clean data.

Ultimately, we delivered a platform which created an estimated £200k pa cost saving with 7 figures per year of opportunity via analysis.

Mark Renney, Managing Director - Wubbleyou

We took the time to get opinions from the people who were using it (e.g. suppliers, data analysts, data and IT teams), which meant the platform was built with their needs in mind. We also aligned on a future state (TO BE process) which addressed the need of the stakeholders and the business. We added as much value as possible, paying close attention to time savings we could make. The platform worked, and it fulfilled all of the objectives. It was also delivered on time. The automation of this lengthy process is estimated to have saved the partnership and the NHS millions of pounds.

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