All posts by Helen Mackenzie

Authentic Leadership Is As Easy As ABC

Most procurement pros are in agreement that authentic leadership  is a great thing. But what actually constitutes an authentic leader? It’s as easy as ABC… 

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Have you ever wondered about that term Authentic Leadership?  We’ve seen it so often in blog posts and Facebook ads it’s become ubiquitous. Most people agree that being an authentic leader makes us more open to new possibilities; persistent and passionate about what we do.

But how can we become more authentic?

Visions of meditation, yoga and alternative therapies spring to mind.  And, while I enjoy all three, this isn’t the route to being authentic.

Achieving  authentic leadership is just a case of learning your ABCs…

A is for Adaptability

Things change at an alarming rate these days.  I can remember when only one person in the team had permission to use email.  Nowadays, emails, texts and social media are the cornerstone of communication.

And it’s not just technology that’s changed.  Information is available at the touch of the button. Anyone can find out the answer to (almost) any question in under a minute.  Politics is changing too, look at the seismic shift brought about by Brexit and Trump.

Jenny Blake sums it up beautifully in her book Pivot: “If change is the only constant in life let’s get better at it”.  By developing adaptability in our business model and ourselves, we can anticipate changes and lead our teams with authenticity and confidence.

As Nancy Duarte tells us in Illustrate: “Leaders anticipate the future…[they] shape and bring it forth.”  So we need to be open to all the possibilities that arise, willing and able to adapt both ourselves and our services quickly, responding to the ever-changing world we live in.

B is for Bouncebackability

Being adaptable comes at a price.  We won’t success at everything we try. Sometimes we’ll misjudge the changes, back the wrong horse or, even worse, fail to act.

As aspiring authentic leaders we have to learn that there’s nothing wrong with any of these, that failures are part of the learning curve and are actually incredibly important.  We need to see them in the context of Angela Duckworth’s concept of grit or, to use a term which originated in the fanatical world of UK soccer, we need to develop bouncebackability.

By telling our teams we will fail along the way, we’re preparing them for the challenges ahead.  We’re encouraging them to be brave and try things and we’re removing the paralysing effect of waiting for everything to be perfect.

Bouncebackability instigates a culture with a growth mindset, turning setbacks into future successes, making failure not a permanent position but a necessary step.  As Carol Dweck tells us, exceptional people as seeming “to have a talent for converting life’s setbacks into successes”.

We need to encourage and embed a culture of bouncebackability into the teams we lead and the organisations we work for.

C is for Creativity

And finally, to do all this we need to foster our creativity. To be flexible and adaptable we must be creative.  We need to be able to look at the challenges facing our services and discover new, better, more robust ways of delivering them.

As the Monty Python veteran John Cleese reminds us “creativity is not a talent, it’s a way of operating”.

We’re not born creative, it’s not a gift we either have or don’t have.  It’s something we learn, a skill we can develop.  We need to strengthen our creative muscle by finding the courage to be authentic and to take risks.  This, in turn, will strengthen and develop our creativity.

MIhaly Csikzentmihalyi’s research shows that creative people are both humble and proud, they’re playful and disciplined.  And the key unlocking creativity is a passion for what they do.  Passion that brings us right back to authenticity.

So, as leaders, we can be authentic in what we do.  It really is as simple as ABC…

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Creating Community Empowerment With Football

How taking an interest in football can help put community empowerment at the heart of public procurement.

Community Empowerment

Lots of public bodies at national, regional and local level like to talk about community empowerment don’t they? That’s because promoting community empowerment is perhaps the holy grail of participatory democracy.

Many politicians and policy makers believe that getting communities more involved in what public money should be spent on and, more importantly, why, will lead to improved outcomes for people and their communities. And there’s plenty of evidence to back this up.

For procurement, tasked with delivering more for less, increasing community empowerment could also mean that the ever-decreasing pot of cash available to spend on public services could actually be deployed in a much more effective way.

Empowerment and Football?

So what we can we do in procurement?  How could we promote community empowerment and what benefits could that bring?  When I was searching Google for examples, strange connections started to occur.  Wherever I found a good example of procurement and community engagement, great football, or soccer to those of you on the other side of the pond, was also evident too. You don’t believe me? Well read on…

Let’s start in the home of sexy football, Brazil.  They’ve been doing a thing called Participatory Budgeting there for a number of years, and it’s a great way to do community empowerment at the front end of the procurement process. Participatory Budgeting in Brazil is an approach which gives local people a direct say in how, and where, public funds can be used to address local requirements.

It started in a place called Porto Alegre in southern Brazil over a decade ago. The first phase of participatory budgeting was to get people together to prioritise how money should be spent, and where investment should go. Should it be parks or water supply, or schools or roads? People at the grass roots of the community were asked to come together in neighbourhood assemblies, and make those decisions.

As the process matured people were able to take decisions at an increasing lower level.  From choices between thematic areas, to choices between services within a theme, to choices about what the specification for that service should be.

So people at the front end determining priorities. Something perhaps we already get involved in from a procurement point of view through User Intelligence Groups, particularly when we have service users involved in that process.

Community Empowerment

What they’ve done in Brazil is a start, but how could we shift control even more directly to people’s hands and empower communities through procurement?

To have a look at how this might be done I moved on to another football hotspot – Spain. I zoomed in on a city which features on a daily basis in my house, and probably every household that has football crazy kids in their midst. Now the football club might be having a great season, but the real reason why Barcelona is a great place isn’t the sublime football of Messrs Neymar, Messi and Suarez.

It’s their approach to procurement using open problems that was the real wow factor for me. Instead of coming up with a specification for a service, they’ve specified the problem, and then gone to the market and asked suppliers to solve it.

They asked people from geographic communities, or communities of interest, to identify what needs they have, and then turned it over to the world’s entrepreneurs to solve them.

Barcelona’s approach was successful. They had 50,000 views of their contract notices, and ultimately let six contracts in this way for issues ranging from tackling bike theft, to systems to tackle social isolation, and empowering local retailers using technology. The thing to understand here, is that communities don’t always know the answer to what they need at the outset – they just know they have a problem.

This method of empowering them to say what they want to change and then enabling them to choose what the answer should be from a range of options, some of which they might not even have considered, is very powerful and procurement is right at the heart of it.

Going Remote and Rural

But is it just in big cities and the regions where these community empowerment approaches might work? Could we use them in remote and rural locations?

My final destination is in one of the great footballing heartlands (well we like to think so anyway!) – Scotland, and my own organisation in the Outer Hebrides.

We wanted to improve community empowerment and link it to a procurement process and so we gave a combination of Brazil and Barcelona a try.  We used a bus service contract but flipped the requirement on its head so we went out to the market to seek travel solutions for people without cars – the problem we sought to solve.

We engaged with the community to identify needs, drive specification development and score the tenders. We embedded community engagement the length and breadth of the procurement process.

To make this happen we assembled our squad of players. The Transport Team in defence, yearning to retain the old ways of doing things, community workers in midfield being creative with their consultation techniques, corporate policy playing in goal making sure we didn’t make any strategic blunders, and finally our strike force, the procurement team, taking all the needs, creativity and service requirements, and converting this into the winning goal by putting a great procurement process and contract in place.

With a 5 per cent budget saving delivered over the lifetime of the contract we clinched the trophy with no need for extra time.

Footballing metaphors aside, promoting community empowerment as part of the way we do things gives those of us in public procurement a real opportunity to shine.

It’s a chance to showcase our talent – getting the right people to have the right input into the procurement process at the right time.

It’s a chance for us to stretch ourselves and learn new techniques. To work with different types of people, using different engagement techniques, at different points in the procurement process.

And it’s the chance to deliver more for less, to provide real answers to the challenges of austerity, and to score that winning goal!

7 Reasons Why Procurement is the Perfect Valentine

Don’t be shy, you can finally admit it. You’ve always thought that procurement is the perfect Valentine for your organisation.

Valentine

It’s that time of year again.  The shops are full of hearts and flowers and we’re all encouraged to share the love.  But, in these times of increased pressure to deliver, reduce costs and improve outcomes, who really should be an organisation’s secret love, their special Valentine?

Well, I’ve got news for you.  Procurement is your perfect match and here are seven reasons why.

  1. We Can Show You a New Angle on Things

Getting procurement involved in sourcing your requirement can give you a whole new perspective on the process. We’ll challenge your specification, make you think about new developments in the market and, more often than not, get you a better price.  We’ll even bring things like ethical sourcing and sustainability into the mix and really broaden your horizons.

  1. We Love You Regardless of Your Flaws

We don’t mind if you come with an input specification when you really should be focusing on outputs. We’ll forgive you if you’ve already chosen something without going through the correct sourcing process. We’ll even turn a blind eye if you’ve indulged in a bit of maverick spend in your past. After all you wouldn’t be the first to have strayed down that path.

  1. We’ll Put Your Needs Ahead of Our Own

Procurement is all about your needs and the needs of the business.  While you may think all we care about are our metrics, nothing could be further from the truth. We’ve designed our procurement processes so that we can do everything in our power to deliver the outcomes that you need.

  1. We Believe Life is Better With You, Rather Than Without You

It’s easy to think that those of us in procurement would rather just get on and source things, and that we’ll manage suppliers without input from those of you on the front line. However, we know from experience that your input and involvement makes things better. We couldn’t just bear to think of sourcing things without you.

  1. We’re Willing to Lose an Argument

In many conversations we have with you about sourcing, we know we’re right, and you’re wrong. But we’re so focused on your needs that, if you really must have a particular supplier or a certain product, and there’s a way we can source it without breaking the law or company rules, we’ll come up with a procurement strategy to help you achieve that aim.

  1. We’re Incredibly Loyal

Because we spend so much time with suppliers it would be easy for you to think they might lead us astray.  But there’s no need to worry – our integrity won’t falter. We want the same things as you, so we’ll be true to the flag and the organisation’s goals. We won’t use processes that are corrupt. Transparency is our middle name. You know you can trust us no matter what.

  1. Our Sex Appeal is Second to None

I must warn you that once you’ve got involved with us in procurement you’re bound to be hooked.  After all there’s something alluring about being listened to and having your needs met. Top that with a large dose of innovation, ethical sourcing and a gold star from the management for your achievement of company aims, and you’ll be coming back for more.

Working with us could just be the most excitement you’ve had in years. After all you don’t get that sort of feeling from working with colleagues in Accounts now do you?!

So, when you’re pondering your choice of Valentine this year,  remember us in Procurement – your ideal secret love.

The Great Procurement Social Value Bake-Off

How promoting social value in public contracts should be the icing on the procurement cake.

Bake off picture

Well, what a task! I’ve just finished commenting on the draft statutory guidance to implement the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act, perhaps one of the most ambitious pieces of public procurement legislation that the world has ever seen!

Worryingly, in amongst the feedback from colleagues, is the concern that including social value considerations in contracts would push up the contract price (Here in Scotland we call them Community Benefit Clauses).

This view was echoed at the 2015 CIPS conference where lawyer David Hansen cautioned against going overboard when applying social value provisions.

But does including an element relating to social value really have to cost much more? Isn’t it something where the public sector can rightly use to take action to put the icing on the cake of great procurement?

Absolutely I say! And while I may not come close to Mary Berry’s cake making, here’s my recipe for success when it comes to Social Value Clauses.

Helen’s Recipe for the Perfect Social Value Clause

  1. Sift the social value clause into a bowl.

Social Value clauses (aka community benefit clauses) are really in vogue in Scotland just now. They’ve been included in all sorts of construction projects to generate thousands of opportunities for apprentices in the building industry, working on things like the facilities for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games or the new Forth Road Crossing.

I actually don’t know of many local authorities this side of Hadrian’s Wall who haven’t managed to get an apprenticeship or student placement into one of their major works contracts.

But it’s not just works contracts where social value can be included.

We’ve managed to secure community benefit clauses in our services contracts for things like sponsored places for the third sector at conferences and additional contact time for people receiving care at home from the supplier who delivers pre-prepared meals.

The key is, as David Hansen rightly advised CIPS colleagues, to keep things proportionate to the contract and sift out the irrelevant that will add cost.

I mean, you only need a bit of innovative thought. Just what social value can a Peterborough based IT system supplier to your Benefits Service provide when you’re based in the Outer Hebrides? IT prizes for schools? Maybe a couple of tablet PCs for people most in need?

  1. Mix in the Third Sector when it starts to boil

Keeping third sector organisations hot, engaged and ready to tender for public contracts can give a real extra dimension to the value you can achieve.

Not only will you have secured savings and benefits arising from a fabulously crafted specification and procurement strategy, but you’ll also be able to award the contract to a third sector organisation whose sole purpose is to give something back.

Awarding a contract to a third sector provider will mean your social value can really start to rise.

Awarding a community transport contract to the third sector means the outreach work they do with vulnerable people is safeguarded as they can now spread their overheads, admin and fleet costs, across more than one income stream.

What about a car maintenance contract, which, if awarded to a garage run by the third sector, can provide work placement opportunities to men who’ve been unemployed for a considerable length of time and who perhaps need a bit more support due to addiction problems or mental health issues?

You see, you can never add too much of the third sector to your recipe; the key is to make sure they’re hot and ready to bid.

  1. Finally, add the secret ingredient

Just when you think you’ve created the best social value cake you can, you need to add the pivotal secret ingredient that’s going to win you the procurement bake off prize:

User engagement and participation in the process.

Delivering real social value must be about putting service users and the community at the heart of what procurement does. Where our contracts affect people’s lives we should be out there asking them what outcomes they want to see delivered and getting them to make the choices about which supplier is used.

We’ve being pushing the boundaries up here in the Outer Hebrides through our participatory budgeting bus services project in Uist and Barra (check out @YourBus for details). But we’re not alone, Orkney have done a great job by engaging with users and carers to commission services and there’s been innovative engagement with deaf service users as part of procurement processes in Nottingham.

Putting the people who matter at the heart of the process not only means better contracts and potential reductions in cost but also, and perhaps most importantly, the legacy of a group of people whose confidence has grown.

Social Value must be at the Heart of every Procurement Recipe

Social Value does not need to be expensive, nor does it need to be ‘an optional extra’. When you view it as part of the recipe for public contracts, it’s that extra ingredient that takes the cake from average to amazing.

And suddenly, you’ll be delivering more than just contracts, you’ll be making a difference to the people your organisation is there to serve.

So why not try my recipe for social value and maybe you can win first price in the Great Procurement Bake Off!

What the Spice Girls can tell us about procurement…

What can the Spice Girls teach us about procurement?

There I was, having a discussion on LinkedIn about engaging with clients before sourcing commodities when on comes Wannabe by the Spice Girls. Other than reminding of me of another time, place and alcopops, strangely, it made me think about specifications.

When you’re in that exciting part of setting up a new contract, it’s really easy to fall back on the last specification and just reproduce it; particularly if you’re short on time. I mean, if no one has complained about it, then it must be ok.

But I think we are missing a huge opportunity to review, challenge and improve on the contract and, ultimately, the final result.

In the public sector we’re assessed more and more against how and when we engage with our client departments, the people who actually use the things we buy. We’re expected to establish User Intelligence Groups to come up with specifications and then to challenge these UIGs on what they come up with. We’re even expected to challenge them as to whether they actually need it in the first place!

Then when clients have decided on what they want it’s our job to steer them in the direction of an output (you might call it a performance) specification. Thinking about what they actually want rather than what they’ve already had can be a challenge. It’s so much easier for clients to specify the product they’ve always used, the way that things have always been done, rather than allow suppliers to come up with something new.

Of course improving specifications is much easier when you’re working in one organisation but opportunities to collaborate are being pursued not only in the public but also the private sector now.

Where do you start when faced, as we are in Scottish local government, with 32 different requirements? In his seminal piece Towards Tesco, Colin Cram gives the example of 100 different specifications for tarmac in Greater Manchester when seven would do. Is this a set of varied needs or be-spoking gone crazy? How can we balance diversity against the reduced cost and benefits of standardisation?

So what’s happening in practice?

In China the standardisation of viaducts used to carry railway tracks has saved millions on construction costs. Closer to home Scotland Excel has succeeded in devising a core specification for residential care for children which enabled the first ever framework agreement for these services to be put in place in Scotland.

In my own organisation we’ve been working hard to standardise requirements and use output specifications wherever we can. We’re just about to finalise the contract for a new school which will see the building of the 4th A shaped footprint – enclosed courtways, essential for our windy climate.

We’ve used an output specification for the first time for grounds maintenance in the expectation that this will allow more responsive and innovative suppliers to shine.

And finally we’re just embarking on a project to redesign transport services in Uist and Barra which will not only use an output specification rather than timetabled services, but also a participatory budgeting approach to allow true community engagement to devise specifications and prioritise services prior to tendering later in 2015.

The Spice Girls know what they want, what they really, really want (I think it was Zig-a-zigah) and your clients do too.

Ultimately, it’s your responsibility to discover from your clients what they really, really want and help them achieve this through a great specification.

How to use Big Data to inform your commodity strategies

Have you ever wondered what all the fuss about this thing call “Big Data” is all about?  Of course we all have access to spend data don’t we?  So why are people getting themselves in such a lather about the whole Big Data thing?

The importance of Big Data

WARNING: ONCE YOU’VE PLUNGED INTO YOUR BIG DATA YOU MIGHT NEVER COME UP FOR AIR!

Well first of all I need to share my guilty secret with you.  Big Data is addictive.  We’re lucky to have the national procurement information hub, which we lovingly call Spikes after it’s creator Spikes Cavell, to play with up here in Scottish public procurement.  Rather than being prickly and difficult to love, Spikes is cuddly and warm.

Plunging in can tell me about my spend, what category I spent it on, whether there was a contract for that spend, whether the suppliers were local, whether they were small, whether they were from the region… and on and on.  Knowing that you can find out all this stuff can leave you craving for the next Big Data hit.  Be careful, the addiction is frightening!

Next up is the fascination with the data.  Once you plunge in you can drill down and the fascination builds.  OK so we spend 5 per cent on a particular category like building supplies; who was that with, what type of products did we buy (we have classification codes on Spikes to help us there), how many invoices did we pay, which department was buying that?  Then off you go to find the line item detail from your purchasing system.  “I need to find out more… and more…and more” It can be as captivating as watching Professor Brian Cox explaining the Wonders of the Universe this plunging into Big Data thing.

Having all that Big Data also really helps on a practical level.  We use it to inform our commodity strategies.  We recently did some research to identify what we’d spent with suppliers of security systems.  Knowing what we’d bought helped us drill down into line item detail and then forecast what we needed to buy.  This was really powerful when it came to developing a strategy to secure a great contract going forward.  Forecasting based on our Big Data something we really need to do more of.

Big Data can ask us some difficult questions.  If 34 per cent of our spend is on construction then why are we focussing all our contract management effort on something else?  Why do we pay over 10,000 invoices a year to our catering suppliers?  Is there a better P2P process we could put in place to save both sides costs?

In this age of infographics and instant reporting Big Data is just what we need to help us present information to our senior management teams, operational managers, Boards or, in our case in public procurement, our elected councillors or Government Ministers.  It’s not good enough these days to say we don’t know the key procurement metrics for our organisation.

So all in all Big Data has the power to suck you in, pull you under and never let you go.  There’s so much potential, there’s so much we can find out.  The key is to make sure you have a plan to get out of Big Data and TAKE ACTION on what you find out today.

So come on, share with me the times when you’ve taken the plunge into Big Data!  Did you find your way out?  What tales can you tell of good savings and great outcomes?

Are we falling out of love with the PQQ?

Are you someone who can’t live without two stages?  Do you quake in you boots at the thought of having too many tenders to score?  Are you like my colleagues in works; do you love a good old PQQ?

The benefits of the PQQ

Well thanks to the EU procurement directive, Scottish Construction Review and improving public procurement practice, the Pre Qualification Questionnaire is in danger of falling into misuse in Scotland.  But will the PQQ really end up like a great pair of 1970s flared jeans?  Something which we put to the back of the wardrobe only to bring out again when they come right back into fashion.

Before you take your PQQ to the charity shop of procurement history, here are a few reasons why it might be just the procurement tool you’ve been looking for.

Don’t bin the PQQ just yet

So you’ve done your supply market analysis and you may even have published a future contract opportunity or a prior information notice.  All the intelligence you’ve gathered tells you that the tenders you should receive will be many and plentiful.

While you may be tempted to jump straight into the Invitation to Tender, a well thought out PQQ can benefit both your Client service and potential Suppliers:

  1. Reduces the amount of evaluation work required by the Client
  2. Sorts the ‘Great’ suppliers from the ‘Good’
  3. Allows Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to apply and only spend valuable time and resources on a full-blown tender if they qualify and are really in with a chance of winning
  4. Speeds up the tendering process
  5. Allows a logical and defendable evaluation to be made.

Using a PQQ is the obvious answer to make sure the more detailed Price : Quality evaluation work at the second stage doesn’t take your Panel all year to complete.  Believe me, the Panel will thank you for this.

Sometimes a just asking a straightforward pass/fail qualification question doesn’t give you the detail you need to differentiate the great suppliers from the good.  A PQQ with some scored questions could be just the tool to use when you need a more sophisticated evaluation process.

SMEs don’t have the resources of larger companies.  For them preparing a tender will take resources away from their ‘day to day’ work, costing them both time and money.

It is much fairer to only ask them to do this if they genuinely have an opportunity to win the tender, and a PQQ will enable this.  Not only that, done correctly, the PQQ can demonstrate to the SME exactly what the Client is expecting (and so may deter SMEs who just can’t deliver).

While the PQQ is an extra-step on the ladder and may appear to increase the time taken between tender and award, in fact it can significantly speed things up.  By using the PQQ to decide who goes through to the tendering stage, it speeds up the Award process.  Not only that, but it spreads out the time and commitment from the Evaluation Panel, allowing them to schedule their contribution over a period of weeks and avoid the accusation that this procurement thing is just a load of bureaucratic time-consuming red tape.

Finally the PQQ can be used to defend decisions taken at an early stage.  Suppliers are told at the start of the process that either they can or can’t tender.  So any challenges to the decision not to be allowed to tender are made before the contract award.  This should mean that, once the contract is awarded, there’s no issue with the qualification part of decision.

Although the mechanistic days of using a PQQ just because we’ve always done are over, let’s not put our procurement “flares” to the charity shop just yet.  By thinking about how to effectively use a two-stage process we can get the best outcome for our services and our suppliers.

Best of all we won’t have to contemplate life without our beloved PQQ.

How Better Together is putting the excitement back into UK public procurement

The Scottish Independence Referendum was a thrilling time, one I’m glad to have been part of, but now it’s over, what is the real impact of Better Together for UK Public Procurement?

Better Together for UK Public Procurement

I believe that we are facing exciting times ahead and that we now have an amazing opportunity to create something special, something lasting and something that will have a real impact on the communities we serve.

Let’s push things to the next level

It’s time for our collaborative buying organisations to push things up a gear.  At a UK level the public sector spends over £45bn on goods, services and works.  Crown Commercial Services chairman Bill Crowthers is quite right when he says that “we need to make the most of this extraordinary buying power.”

How CCS, Scotland Excel and other collaborative buying organisations engage with their customers, the public bodies the length and breadth of the UK, will be crucial as we move into the next generation of public contracts.

We need agreements which serve not only London but Lerwick, not just Belfast but Bangor.  Our collaborative partners must deliver agreements and contracts that will reduce the overall cost to the whole public purse.

Savings not just for the strong and influential public bodies with huge amounts of spend but for the smaller less centrally located bodies too.  All for one and one for all!

It’s time for innovation, imagination and change

Let’s use this next period to encourage innovation amongst our suppliers, particularly those who are UK based small and medium enterprises.

Let’s use imaginative contract strategies, structured contract management and true and deep supplier engagement.

Let’s make access to public contract opportunities easy.

If we really are better together then let’s have a single gateway where all public contracts for the UK are advertised.

Think how refreshingly simple it would be if you’re a British supplier, particularly a small one looking to grow, if you knew about every single contract opportunity for your commodity in the UK as soon as it was advertised.  So let’s build on the success of portals like Public Contracts Scotland to create something bigger and better that covers the whole of the UK.

Let’s take the impetus given to us by the new EU directives and drive this SME agenda forward!

Community benefit clauses that benefit all

We need to seize the opportunities to make public procurement a force for good in the wider community and economy.  We can use community benefit clauses to not only deliver apprenticeships and work placements, but also to promote improved engagement with and services for communities.

How about donating the power of a community benefit clause in your construction project to another area if you can’t sustain any more apprenticeships at the moment where you are?  Why not put it in your contract but target it for a related geographic area where there is a demonstrable need?

Now that would be Team UK working better together wouldn’t it?

There is powerful information in the data – we just need to use it!

We have access to big data on spending across our organisations, across our sectors, across our countries, across the UK.

It’s time to inspire our IT suppliers to give us integrated solutions which join up purchasing systems to general ledgers to contract registers to national procurement information hubs.  It’s no longer acceptable for us all to say we don’t have the data; that we just don’t know.

Just imagine what we could do with all that knowledge about our spend and contracts if we can actually get our hands on it?

The future for public procurement is exciting

So as we head towards a place where decision-making could become more local, the potential for public procurement to excel has never been greater.

We can deliver even more savings and value by joining up behind the scenes and working together whenever we can.  This won’t be by implementing a one size, or organisation, fits all approach.  It will only be by adopting a federalist approach that recognises procurement teams operating at local, sectoral and national levels all have their roles to play in this exciting next stage.

Only then we truly be better together.