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Eco-friendly Digital Process Saves Council Money and Suppliers Time

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A digital innovation is saving Swansea Council thousands of pounds and its suppliers hundreds of valuable hours.

The council’s switch from having many business contracts produced digitally rather than printed is also helping Swansea to tackle the climate emergency.

In its first year, the council’s use of its new e-signature software saved more than 12,000 sheets of paper in the processing of more than 240 contracts.

Suppliers who benefited from the time saved by the switch ranged from contractors building the Bay Field Hospital to suppliers of pot hole repair materials and from suppliers of tyres for council vehicles to those supplying air source heat pumps for new council homes.

The process, which complies with legal rules, saved more than 593kg of CO2 emissions thanks to changes such as officers not having to travel into an office to draft and process paperwork.

The plans is to expand the use of the system – supplied by specialist company DocuSign – to other areas of the council.

David Hopkins, the council’s joint deputy leader, said:

“Our successful e-signature process saves on time, money and waste – it’s exactly the sort of innovation that will help the council go net zero carbon by 2030 and the city net zero by 2050.

“It also means that the many officers dealing with procurement and contracts can work from home rather than needing to visit the office.

“It illustrates our commitment to new ways of working and protecting the planet. E-signatures allow us to speed up contract turnaround times, reduce paper use and improve efficiency.”

Before e-signatures, although other parts of the procurement process had gone digital, the council printed and circulated several copies of hard copy contracts.

Contracts would be printed in duplicate before being routed to the legal team to draft and execute the agreement. They would then be sent out to the supplier for signing, before being returned to the council. A sealed contract would then be issued to the supplier. Physical copies would be stored and archived for a number of years. This process and involved multiple documents being signed by multiple people and could take more than 30 days.

That entire process is now digitised, increasing speed by almost 70% and cutting down enormously on physical storage space.

Feedback has been positive from staff and suppliers.

Council teams heavily involved in the process included those from commercial services, procurement, legal and IT.