CDS transforms Birmingham City Council’s print approach

CDS works in close partnership with Birmingham City Council to transform the way the organisation approaches its printing.

The requirement


Birmingham City Council, one of the UK’s largest local authorities, required a fully managed, end-to-end print service which would deliver minimum guaranteed savings of 15% and use a Birmingham-based supply chain in order to boost the local economy and comply with the council’s Business Charter for Social Responsibility. The council did not have a formal print contract in place, and their existing solution was fragmented which attracted high transactional costs with no opportunity to obtain volume discounts.

“I was astounded to discover the antiquated and inefficient systems this administration inherited. This is exactly the sort of thing this portfolio was established to sort out. A total of £2.4million a year was being spent with no formal contract in place, meaning there were high transactional costs and no opportunity to get volume discounts. Even the council’s print commissioning team were using 70 different providers with individual directorates ignoring even them and buying from 180 more.”
Cllr Stewart Stacey, Cabinet Member for Commissioning, Contracting and Improvement, Birmingham City Council

The solution

Through the Wider Public Sector Print Services agreement (RM1687) CDS was appointed to manage the marketing and communications print spend for Birmingham City Council.

As the council’s strategic print partner, CDS has appointed an experienced project manager to engage with the local print market to ensure that the council’s Business Charter for Social Responsibility is met. This means that where local capability exists, CDS will deliver 100% of the print spend via suppliers within 30 miles of the Birmingham Council House.

To ensure value and savings are achieved the CDS solution includes a bespoke print portal which will manage the council’s end-to-end requirements, including the provision of management information, a digital asset management system and a web to print self-serve tool. Electronic invoicing has also been implemented. Together with guidance on all areas of print specification, the move towards electronic solutions will provide the service and savings that the council requires.

The results

Birmingham Business Charter for Social Responsibility

CDS was awarded the Birmingham Business Charter for Social Responsibility. Cllr Stewart Stacey, right, presenting charter to Guy Van Lopik (CDS).

CDS is working in close partnership with the council and the local supplier base to realise efficiencies and transform the way the organisation thinks about print. Their commitment to the Business Charter for Social Responsibility has been recognised with an award, and all supply chain suppliers are committed to the principles of the charter which include embracing local employment, Buy Birmingham First and Partners in Communities.

Now that the print contract is in place the council is dealing with just one supplier rather than the 250 individual suppliers they dealt with previously, and has visibility of all print spend.

The single point of contact ensures visibility of all print requests and consistency of branding and messaging. Previously 40% of all print spend bypassed corporate communications and went directly to printers leading to inconsistencies. This has also benefitted the development of a strategy for moving away from tactical print to digital solutions. Internal customer feedback has been excellent, and six months into the contract CDS has delivered 13% of the 15% savings target.

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This case study was featured in the National Outsourcing Association publication Outsourcing Works in the Public Sector (Download PDF of full publication here). The NOA’s publication offers research findings, best practice guidelines and a whole host of successful public sector outsourcing case studies.

Contact for more information

For further information about CDS products and services, please visit, call Paul Meersman on + 44 (0)800 138 4308 or email

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