Risk and Governance in the Utilities Sector – Discussion in Cardiff

Last week I took the train to Cardiff for a BravoSolution workshop at the Principality Stadium aimed mainly at the utilities sector and focused on governance and risk issues. I gave a keynote and facilitated a round-table (or four square tables to be precise) discussion.

The utilities sector faces some unusual challenges, being both a heavily regulated set of industries, therefore still sharing some traits with the public sector, and yet in other ways operating in very competitive markets. So, one of the topics for discussion was how procurement balances that governance and compliance role with also hoping to be seen by stakeholders as flexible, helpful, innovative and business-focused.

We discussed a number of responses to that issue – it starts with a clear definition of procurement’s role and an understanding at Board level that procurement is about managing value in the widest sense, which includes both managing risk and opportunity.

And they’re not totally separate issues – we need to understand our suppliers’ capabilities both in order to identify and assess risk issues, and to work out where those suppliers might provide us with additional value through innovation, efficiency and so on. There is also something important about explaining the role of procurement clearly so that stakeholders understand we don’t just invent the rules and regulations ourselves!  “We’re here to keep you out of trouble”.

It was also interesting to see quite an appetite amongst the delegates for greater collaboration within the sector. Obviously, there are competitive implications, but in some areas – co-operating over supplier accreditations for instance – there are already examples of working together successfully, and the feeling was that more could be done which would benefit everyone (including suppliers) if people can avoid re-inventing the wheel.

There was a desire also to see technology being better “joined-up”, to avoid the need for data to be ported from one platform or system to another. Integration has become a big topic in recent years, both in terms of how providers (like BravoSolution) make the different elements of their own products link up better, and also how different providers can allow their products to work better together. That concept certainly was favoured by this group – something for certain providers who have ploughed a more individual path to think about, we suspect.

We’ll have more here on GDPR and the DocuSign presentation shortly, and as we mentioned previously, we also had a tour of the stadium, which was fascinating. Unfortunately, our presence did not magically lead to success for the Welsh rugby team on Saturday!

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