The Public Procurement Show – better than an ACCA exam…

After the three trains necessary to get to the conveniently situated Excel conference centre, I spent a day at the Guardian Public Procurement Show last week.  How was it?

For attendees? If you were treating it as a conference type event, surprisingly good. There were parallel streams of events, with legal workshops, best practice procurement training sessions given by Stephen Ashcroft of Brian Farrington Ltd, and 'keynote' speeches. Some of the legal sessions, sponsored by Local Government Lawyer, drew over 50 people, and Ashcroft's were also well attended  - both looked good from my brief exposure.  (These sessions were held just in the main hall, with people sitting or standing around a large exhibition 'stand' rather than in separate rooms, so you could just wander past and catch a few minutes of them). So you could have happily spent the day getting some worthwhile education.

For exhibitors? Not so good. Wednesday was poor for visitors to the stands; most said Tuesday had been "OK" but not great. Perhaps the conference programme was too good - attendees didn't have much time to visit the stands with all the other events? It's also clear that many public sector organisations just aren't allowing travel - even though the event was free to delegates, I heard that many local authorities for instance just have a total block on travel.

For speakers? A bit of a nightmare. Even the keynotes were just in an area separated by 8 foot high partitions from the main area. So I had great admiration for David Noble, CIPS CEO, as he competed with the general noise from the main hall, the odd plane coming into London City airport, music from an exhibitor's stand, and another speaker in the background. I think I might have done my diva impersonation and stormed off, but he valiantly kept going!

So a good event for delegates; and much better than what was happening in the hall over the way at Excel - the ACCA accountancy exams. Over 4,000 desks (yes, 4,000) arranged in rows in this otherwise bare, huge 'shed'. A truly nightmare vision...

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