More on the Crown Commercial Service Category Lead Roles

We featured the very senior category management lead roles being advertised by Crown Commercial Service (CCS) recently here. Just to emphasise the seniority, as well as the £160K salary offered, the grade of SCS2 is the same we believe as the Commercial Directors of the largest departments such as MOD or DWP. But what is the background to these roles, which will report to the CEO of CCS (currently Malcom Harrison on an interim basis)?

It is no secret that the CCS “common category” programme, under which responsibility for major spend areas that are reasonably common across central government has transferred from the departments, NDPBs and Agencies to CCS, has not been a total success. There are a number of reasons for that, and Harrison, now interim CEO, was brought in a few months ago to work out a new operating model that would better define the roles and responsibilities of the centre versus the budget holding organisations.

Our suspicion is that we will see a new definition of exactly which activities will be carried out by CCS and which by the “client” organisations soon, and that may see some rolling back of the initial Bill Crothers / Francis Maude grand CCS aspirations. But another issue with CCS has been the feeling that the organisation has not had the really deep category expertise in place to show the clients that they really were adding value over and above what the departments could do themselves.

It’s the same as any outsource: you would hope that your provider could demonstrate that they were better at doing whatever they were doing than you were – otherwise what was the point of the outsource? So perhaps CCS has struggled to demonstrate that, and to be fair, it is not easy to develop category strategies and approaches that meet the needs of everyone from the Army to the Environment Agency, from GCHQ to the Gambling Commission.

To be credible, CCS needs to show that it has genuinely deep category knowledge, and people who can come up with strategies that the clients will feel add real value over and above what they could do themselves. That must be more than a bit of simple aggregation to be effective. Then of course CCS has to deliver against the strategies, which requires operational excellence as well as strategic vision! So those are the tasks that face these new people being recruited to lead the major category groups.

Another issue has been that CCS at top level did not reflect the importance of the core CatMan and sourcing activities. So only Matt Denham of the CCS board-level executives was a front-line delivery person for the organisation, and was also really the only executive on the board with deep personal procurement experience. Recruiting these four new people at that top level will therefore also re-balance the CCS Board and put the core contract management and sourcing activities centre-stage.

 You can read the whole Candidate Pack here, and apply if this sounds like an interesting challenge – which it is – but applications close on April 22nd, so get on with it!

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