The Crown Commercial Service Suppliers’ Day – More From The Fabulous Five

Last week we featured the “Fabulous Five” stumbling into the Crown Commercial Service supplier briefing for the Crown Marketplace forthcoming procurement. We take up the story here …

The friends listened with interest to John Manzoni, Malcolm Harrison, Matt Denham and Amabel Grant talking about their plans.

“Grant seems to know what she’s talking about “ whispered Jeff. “You’d almost think she’d done this before, perhaps in 2003 when it was called Zanzibar”.

“But I’m not sure the others are exactly ‘Digital Natives’ - not like us youngsters!” Jack added complacently.  Suddenly, the room fell silent. The CCS team had asked for any questions. After a few moments silence, Jack spoke up.

“If you run this under a concession agreement, as you seem to be favouring, aren’t you asking providers to take a large amount of risk? And given you have not mentioned all the other collaborative bodies in the UK public sector, who will fight you tooth-and-nail to preserve their business and their jobs, how likely do you think it is that the concession winner will really be able to win a large chunk of that business?"

“Gosh, Jack, how do you know that stuff”? Jeff’s voice betrayed a new note of sexual attraction as he smiled at his friend.

“I am head of digital for a major consulting firm, Jeff, surely you know that”, replied Jack dismissively.

"But hang on Jack",  intervened Debs, excitedly. "Perhaps CCS could bring the other collaborative bodies on board - the marketplace could also offer contracts negotiated by other buying organisations - is that what you are going to do”?

The panel looked at each other, but before they could answer, Dan spoke up , eager to show off,  as always.

“You mentioned that no other government in the world that you have found has achieved this. Doesn’t that just make this a very high-risk programme – how will you make sure it isn’t another difficult Cabinet Office programme, like the Shared Services programme or the initial centralisation of procurement into CCS that you are now undoing”?

Now it was Debs turn to look surprised. “Well done Dan!” she whispered.

“I am actually head of procurement technology for one of the largest FMCG firms in the world”, whispered Dan. But Debs quickly chipped in.

“And isn’t the mantra “adopt not adapt” promoted by most successful procurement tech firms – but you seem to be looking for a totally bespoke, unique, tailored solution. That sounds high-risk”.

The panel now looked somewhat stunned. “Who exactly do you pesky kids work for?” asked Mr Denham.

“Er… Apple “ said Jeff (see part 1).

“Oh no you don’t!” shouted the real Apple delegates.

“Run for it kids”! Jeff shouted, and with that, the intrepid foursome did just that, pushing over tables, and scattering the overweight software executives as they went.

“Phew, that was close”, said Dan later as they celebrated over a pint in a booth downstairs in the Westminster Arms. “But we’re safe here, I mean civil servants would never think of drinking in a place like this,” added Jeff.

“So what do you think of the plans really”?

“I’m not sure”, said Debs.

“I mean, I applaud the goals and the ambition, you have to think that something like this will be in place in ten years' time … but it is a tough challenge. It would be good to see the briefing document when it comes out”.

Jeff looked very pleased with himself. “Well, we should get a copy. While you lot were asking those tough questions, I registered for a copy – using my special email address  They’ll never suspect it’s us”!

“Oh, well done old chap. More ginger beers all round – oh what the heck, let’s make it London Pride! Cheers”!

And as the friends settled down for a long evening laughing at the tourists, politicians and other oddballs who made up the core clientele of their favourite pub, they looked forward to reading the CCS briefing very soon.

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