Will John Collington succeed? And what of OGC?

Congratulations to John Collington on his appointment as Head of Procurement for the Efficiency and Reform Group within the Cabinet Office.  John has strong experience and will I know put his considerable energy and determination into the role.  And there seems to be a good level of acceptance in central government procurement circles that the centralised approach to common categories is the right way to go, so that is a positive environment to work in.

I don't suppose for a moment that John particularly wants or needs any advice.  But based on my previous attempts to get people to work together when I sat in central 'corporate' procurement roles (going back to 1988, and in public and private sector organisations), I would pull out four 'key success factors'.

1.  Particularly if you have previous affiliation to one of the participating organisations  (as John does with the Home Office), go out of your way to show you are now truly independent.  People will assume that you have favourites; people, suppliers, technology providers etc.  Go out of your way to show that you appreciate that you now work on behalf of all the participating organisations.

2.  Don't assume that aggregation of demand should lead to aggregation of supply. Mega contracts with mega suppliers is not always the best answer (and in the public sector environment, issues around SMEs and so on will also need attention).

3.  Measure the benefits.  Central functions of any sort have to justify themselves very clearly.  I won't labour the point given we're running a series of posts about savings measurement (here and here), but the savings from this programme are going to be heavily scrutinised.  They need to stand up to that attention.

4.  Perhaps most importantly, you must have top management support.  And this initiative certainly seems to have that - about as 'top' as you can get!

The Cabinet Office announcement was noticeably vague in one area though - where does OGC fit?  Does it now report to Collington?  What about Buying Solutions? Or will we have to wait for Ian Watmore's arrival to see clarity on those issues?

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  1. Richard Bell:

    Job advertised this week is as follows “A central government department is seeking a hard working a focused individual for the ten month contract role of procurement manager to work within their central London office.” Is someone trying to jump the gun?

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