Help us to collaborate….

I'm delighted to introduce our first guest blog here, from Steve Jackson, who works (sometimes) with Procurement Excellence and has a background as a CPO in top industrial firms, as well as being a very good medium pace swing / seam bowler in the Yorkshire cricket leagues...

I wanted to make a simple point on how OGC and the big Departments could improve Public sector procurement with almost no additional effort.

As an interim head of profession I’m working with a Trading Fund to deliver a more strategic and internally valued procurement team focused on commerciality, value creation and reducing process effort.  This assignment is not unusual, and collaboration with bigger buyers is an obvious way to access common goods and services quickly, economically and easily.  In common with many full time Civil Service colleagues, I wonder how easy it is for professional buyers to understand the frameworks and call off contracts that are available to them.

As we move into a more uncertain budgetary environment, managers need to target the most risky, challenging and rewarding activities.  Therefore what is the point of committing resources to the same activities as colleagues down the road with the same suppliers?

My team is not proud about doing things itself, it wants to focus on those categories that will enable us to compete.  We use Buying Solutions and our parent Department’s deals and we are replacing a multitude of suppliers with a prime agreement brokered by two central government big players.  But, it’s not always easy to track deals down, in fact we quite often ask suppliers how we can get to them.   This seems a bit wrong.  It is how we found a Local Authority from the other end of the country who have been a really helpful reference and kindly let us use their open agreement.   The OGC contracts database is a step in the right direction, but it could be made more user friendly and does not always contain all the deals of interest.

So here is my plea.  Come on big players, make it easier for us to join in.  We don’t want to do it all ourselves and if any public sector procurement professionals have enabling contracts that could be used, it would be great to hear from you.  It must be worth a couple of new roles or a bit more investment to coordinate collaboration, I’ve already saved enough to fund one or two or three..........

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