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A Barclays Bank online auction process, used earlier this year for accountancy firms, may be extended to commoditisable elements of the provision of legal services
The process is being considered in advance of the upcoming review of all of Barclays' legal panels next March. It is understood that the auction process has so far proved very popular with the Barclays administration and, in particular, the procurement department. It is based on software designed by Accenture, which has also been used by Sainsbury's to cut supplier costs. Last month, accountancy firms already appointed to the corporate recovery panel were asked to retender using the online auction process. Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers, KPMG, Deloitte & Touche, BDO Stoy Hayward, Baker Tilly, RSM Robson Rhodes, Smith & Williamson and Begbies Traynor were all involved. Barclays stratified bidding categories for different levels of work, allowing the accountants to bid in several or just one category. According to a source close to the process, the accountants bid on hourly rates in various categories. Once a bid was in, that category of work was then left open for seven minutes to allow other bidders to undercut. Although the prices were displayed on screen, the identity of the bidders was not revealed to rival firms. It is understood that the bidding in some categories went on for several hours longer than expected and was a successful value-for-money exercise. Head of projects and operations at Barclays Bjarnie Anderson said: "This has just been proposed by our sourcing people and we will discuss it at our upcoming law firm management committee. We're open to looking at anything if it makes the process more cost-efficient without losing quality and that vital personal interaction. A lot of work we do doesn't lend itself to commoditisation, but where it does we want to do it."