Workforce Management

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Buying Options

The Right System for You

Buying a system to support your workforce is an important decision, especially within the healthcare sector where getting the best value is so vital. Before you move forward, you’ll want to consider what specific problems you are trying to solve, what you would like the end user to experience, and what routes are available to you to make your purchase.

The right system can have massive benefits. But getting the wrong system can have long lasting and costly effects. As a business born out of the NHS, we have witnessed both outcomes and have some thoughts about the best route to secure the right system for you. We have summarised some of the different options below:

Buying Options

Option 1

Blind Tender – Demo – Award

You’ll provide a checklist specification of what is needed to your procurement team and then go out to a ‘blind tender.’ This ensures all the suppliers are on an even playing field. However, this only suits organisations who want an ‘off the shelf’ type system and is often heavily weighted on price, which means some of the added value of a particular supplier (such as outstanding customer support!) may not be taken into consideration.

Once the tender is complete, you will receive a demonstration from some or all suppliers. This could involve a ‘beauty parade’ of short presentations, limited access to the software provider’s demo site, or a combination of both. You will then go through the next steps in the procurement process and choose your supplier of choice.

Option 2

Market Testing and/or Pilot – Formal Tender

You’ll explore what’s available in the market prior to any procurement exercise. This may involve either soft market engagement - meeting with suppliers, having presentations and demonstrations, or a more in-depth discovery - undertaking single or multiple pilots.

Demonstrations allow the organisation to obtain a basic understanding of a system’s features and ascertain the provider’s approach to system implementation, maintenance and support.

A pilot approach entails the system being implemented within your organisation for select users to experience first-hand over a shorter contracted period (e.g. up to six months).This approach ensures you will fully experience working with a particular system/supplier and enables the software to be better adapted to your specific needs, without the obligation of long term lock-in if the system, or service, do not meet expectations.

You’ll then move to a full open procurement process as outlined above but will have deepened your understanding of what is really valuable to you.

Option 3

Pilot – Direct Award

As above, a system (or systems) will be ‘piloted’ within your organisation. Once you see what works well for your users, you can seek a Chief Executive Waiver, or other direct award option via a framework, to move to a permanent contract with your preferred supplier.

To be transparent, this option is SARD’s preferred scenario. We want to create a partnership, so you can configure our system in a way that works for you and for your users to experience the full SARD service.

We treat a pilot in the same way that we would a long-term contract. All organisations that pilot with SARD can tailor the system to your needs, make development requests and users will have full access to our expert Customer Support team.


SARD has been awarded a place on the NHS Health Systems Support Framework (HSSF) Lot 0 which means it will be simpler to purchase SARD Job Planning and SARD eRostering. We’re extremely proud to be part of HSSF and hope this will make the procurement process easier for trusts.

Procuring in partnership

SARD are happy to support you with any aspect of the buying process and answer any questions you have. We can assist with Process Mapping to help discover where software systems such as SARD might help answer your organisational challenges and can also provide support with writing a business case to demonstrate the benefits of implementing the best software solutions for your organisation.

If you would like to explore these options, then please contact our Sales Director Philip Bottle at for a more in-depth discussion.