New Sponsor Bloom – Bringing Expertise to Consultancy Procurement

We’re pleased to welcome Bloom as a new sponsor for Spend Matters UK. We wrote about the firm here and we will be featuring regular material connected with Bloom and the management consulting sector, which might even provoke a few more sales of my book, co-authored with Fiona Czerniawska and titled Buying Professional Services – How to get value for money from consultants and other professional services providers. (Still available of course, here, at a ridiculously reasonable price ...)

Bloom, whose strap-line is “Opening up procurement”, supports the UK public sector in buying professional services better. The firm was established in 2012 as the delivery partner of the NEPRO Specialist Professional Services neutral vendor solution from NEPO (North East Procurement Organisation). The recent name change to Bloom clearly distinguishes the company from the solution it delivers.

As we said previously, when we first heard about this, we thought it was mainly designed just to be a time-saving construct that helped users engage consultants quickly and get round the EU regulations, to be honest. But it is clearly more than this.

It is compliant under EU and UK regulations, so any public sector organisation can engage Bloom for consulting-type services, delivered through a whole range of firms, large and small. But Bloom brings more than convenience to the party. The firm always encourages clients to use competition to choose the firm to deliver work. But Bloom also looks to provide value to clients, and indeed to the consulting firms, in other ways, and this is where we think the whole proposition starts looking very interesting.

So Bloom has built a significant bank of knowledge about the capability of consulting firms, including hundreds of SMEs (smaller firms) and can advise clients around that. The contracts put in place with the delivery firms are virtually always based on outcomes and deliverables, and Bloom therefore gathers information about timeliness of delivery – some further ideas around collecting preperformance data are being explored now. Bloom also has an excellent view of market prices and fee structures, so can work to ensure pricing is fair and clients obtain value for money.

This is very important when the assignment is not competed – that does happen sometimes, usually based on either scale of the work or urgency. In such cases, Bloom are generally better placed than their client to get value for money from the consultant because of their understanding of the market.

“Ultimately, we have to show value to both our clients and the provider firms”,  says Adam Jacobs, one of the founders of Bloom (pictured here with Sarah Willis, Head of Marketing).  And in terms of those provider-side benefits, “we are creating a marketplace for consulting firms; we can raise awareness of solutions, reduce cost of sales, and give buyers a sense of what is available in the market”.

Management consulting and professional services more widely are still relatively new categories for the procurement world, and many organisations still don’t buy those services particularly well. Bloom has an opportunity we believe to establish itself as a deep expert in this field, perhaps the deep expert, bringing benefits to both buyers and sellers.  We haven’t had a look at the technology that supports their work yet, but we will, and we look forward to bringing you further coverage of this sector.

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