As 2021 dawns, it’s time for a new-look site with new capabilities for a new era – find out how it can help you catapult your influence.
There are so many benefits to increasing your network and influence. It won’t come as news to you that it helps to advance your career … but did you know that having more influence actually helps to increase the value you’re able to negotiate?
Think about it: people with more influence always get more – more deals, more access, more benefits – which prompted us to offer you more. After all:
Influence = value
In 2014 we created Procurious to help professionals like you grow their network and increase their influence, and it’s served our community well. Now, after what has been a remarkably challenging year, we felt it was the perfect time to enhance, upgrade and refresh the platform to help you achieve this, so we’re excited to share some of the updates we’ve been working on …
1. More tools to connect and grow your professional network
We believe one of the most important aspects of our profession is the development of strong relationships and a diverse network. This has always been at the heart of Procurious and has been a key focus for the new platform.
By introducing new features such as live-chat and profile additions like skills we’re making it easier to find, connect and collaborate with like-minded professionals.
2. Enhanced micro-communities and groups
Whether you’re sharing a valuable resource, discussing an idea, establishing a think-tank or reflecting and asking for feedback on a recent experience, Procurious has you covered!
We’re always looking for new ways to support the activities that help you and your team learn, grow and achieve excellence, and the upcoming enhancements to our groups and discussions are no exception.
3. New and convenient ways to find and participant in live events
We love assembling our community to share and discuss new ideas, important trends, emerging challenges and exciting opportunities, and our new approach to events aims to make this easier and more powerful.
With simplified search and registration, event specific community feeds, upcoming session alerts and integrated live-streams, we’re looking forward to helping everyone in our community to make the most of these opportunities to connect.
Procurious is here to help you take control of your procurement and supply chain career. The more you give, the more you get, so be generous: together we can all move forward through Procurious.
If you have any questions at all about Procurious, please get in touch at [email protected]
Based on our research, here are five ways that procurement professionals can generate more social value from their next construction project
Many governments around the world, including the UK, are focussing on construction-led recovery post-COVID.
Here are 5 ways Procurement can play a key role in re-shaping not only our buildings and the way we live, but also our communities through the way we buy during the construction process.
1.Have a clear social value strategy and framework
There needs to be a clear, transparent and needs-based social value strategy and framework for both procurers and bidders which is embedded at all stages. Procurement frameworks, with required levels of social value commitments, can bring efficiency and good practice application across public sector contracts. They can provide suppliers with more clarity on what is required for social value and how this will be recorded. Procurement services that guarantee work once suppliers are on the framework can incentivise well-considered social value commitments for both SMEs and larger organisations.
2.Prioritise outcomes in monitoring and evaluation
There is fragmented market of tools and metrics used in both procurement and evaluation. Most do not take into account geographic disparities in their monetisation, nor include negative effects of development to arrive at the final value. A focus on ‘tick box’ outputs like number of people trained, or number of apprenticeships started, can lead to more aware suppliers knowing how to score well on social value weightings in the tender process, as discussed previously. By procuring outcomes instead of outputs, the procurement profession can open up the doors for innovation and creativity in bid responses, and evaluate bidders on the impact they will achieve, rather than bums on seats.
3.Consistency and holding to account
There are different procurement frameworks, regional models, and different sector frameworks, adding to the confusion in this area, and sometimes a ‘buy local’ requirement as well – there is no homogeneity in the procurement landscape. Given that Social Value typically accounts for anywhere between 2%-25% on tender scores, it is a key part of the procurement process. Having consistent, appropriate, clear goals at all stages, engaging in more pre-tender dialogue with bidders, and stating the evaluation methodology or tool to be used, will help achieve greater outcomes. Most importantly, hold suppliers to account for their contractual outcomes. Our research showed that rigorous monitoring and enforcement of contracted social value activities was very variable and inconsistent. With the high value of contracts in construction, ensuring that what may have secured a major win is actually delivered on the ground is imperative.
4.Enable straightforward comparisons of value
We recommend that environmental components are separately weighted in procurement, and that ‘normal or good business practices’ e.g. internal diversity/inclusion initiatives, prompt payment codes, training of existing supply chains, modern slavery, managing noise or disruption, should be considered as a given. Social value has to go beyond ‘business as usual’. Activities which may be commercially beneficial to the supplier, such as apprenticeships and educational visits, could be considered as social value if they were supported by a robust needs analysis in the area that this is going to make a difference. Even so, focusing on apprenticeship completions rather than starts would be a step in the right direction.
5.Guard against potential for disconnect
Our research suggests that a procurement framework approach may provide a further layer of disconnect between local beneficiaries and the provision of social value. The delivery of a locally responsive approach, which links to and utilises community groups and organisations, requires greater clarity. There could be an opportunity for procuring organisations to identify initiatives and local organisations in the tender documentation, embedding local knowledge and understanding of need into the brief, rather than leaving suppliers to try to work this out or to ‘reinvent the wheel’ during the process. Procurers could also consider requiring the upskilling of the voluntary and community sector, as well as the enabling of local businesses not in their supply chains to become fit to supply, which would leave a more enduring legacy.
The construction sector is the sixth largest source of employment in the UK, contributes nearly 7% of the UK’s GDP and is a major recipient of public spending – it is critical for placemaking, economic development and job creation, all of which highlight its importance to Boris Johnson’s ‘New Deal’ and post Covid-19 recovery.
With construction spend estimated to be £500 billion by the end of this decade there is also a need to make sure that every one of those pounds delivers additional tangible social impact, and makes a major contribution to addressing the significant inequalities faced by our most disadvantaged citizens and left-behind communities.
The Social Value Act, published in 2013, requires people who commission public services to think about how they can also secure wider social, economic and environmental benefits. Before they start the procurement process, commissioners must therefore determine how they can secure maximum benefits at all stages of the project for their local communities.
“No common definition of social value”
Given the significance of construction to our economy, we undertook research to support greater understanding of what ‘good practice’ social value looks like, and to find and share examples where innovative, replicable and impactful social value has been delivered at all levels of place-based interventions as a result.
Our final report,From the Ground Up – Improving the Delivery of Social Value in Construction, finds that we are a very long way from the social value nirvana we desire. The barriers are significant, and whilst social value plays an increasing part in the procurement process, there are some pretty hefty challenges running across procurement, definitions, activities, partnerships, monitoring and evaluation.
There is no common, comprehensive definition of what counts as social value, to frame understanding, benchmarking or reporting, and aid comparison of tenders and to determine best practice. This has given rise to significant disparities in what counts as social value activities, and no requirement to focus on improving the wellbeing of the most disadvantaged.
Current examples include attracting/retaining staff, prompt payment codes, internal equality and diversity programmes, fair pay, training of the supply chain, ethical/low carbon sourcing, managing risk/noise, and increasing awareness of the construction sector as a career for young people. So there is a high risk of social value lacking focus and becoming too diffuse.
We also found that projects spanning geographies have multiple project stakeholders often competing for social value outputs, different frameworks with differing social value requirements, and a real lack of alignment around desired benefits and outcomes. There was clear consensus on one of the biggest barriers – the lack of understanding of what social value is – and that substantial improvements need to be made in its monitoring and evaluation.
“Procurement must be a much more effective tool for change”
As covered previously, social value procurement must be a much more effective tool for change. This means putting people at the centre of place-based development, engaging and working with them to understand their needs and wants, so that the development happens with them, not to them. We need to change how we measure the value of our place interventions to take into account what matters to the stakeholders in them, and move from outputs to considering how we can achieve an improvement in wellbeing outcomes as an important deliverable.
In our report, you will see we have made five recommendations in response to our key findings. You can also view our report launch. To join us in the next phase of our discussions for driving change, please email me at [email protected].
Bev Hurley CBE is Chair of the Institute of Economic Development, the UK’s leading independent professional body representing economic development and regeneration practitioners working for local and regional communities.
My advice for up and coming finance professionals? Don’t get stuck in your silo – get out and collaborate.
When someone asks you for your opinion or advice to pass on to young professionals, it’s often tricky to narrow down your thinking to two or three bullet points. When these professionals working in a different business function, the job gets that little bit harder still.
However, there’s not as much difference between Procurement and Finance professionals in the early stages of their careers. So, based on my own experience, I have put together my top three pieces of advice for new professionals (whether they are in Finance or any other profession).
Avoid a Silo Mentality
Maybe the most important piece of advice I can think of, hence why it’s come first. In the early part of my career, there was nothing more frustrating than trying to explain what procurement did, and why we added value to the business.
We worked closely with other functions, such as Design, Manufacturing, and Finance, but always had the same conversation why we needed to be involved at all. If you’re going to fully understand the business, then you need to get out of your functional silo and meet other people, discuss their roles, and work out how you and they fit together.
The relationship between Finance and Procurement is key to the smooth running of a number of critical operations. From supplier selection and qualification, to invoice payment, these operations will run much more efficiently with better communication and a good relationship.
If you step outside your silo, you’ll probably find that other people are willing to do this too.
Share your Experience
Procurious founder, Tania Seary, has frequently spoken about the importance for procurement to flex their collective muscle and create a community of practice. The same could be said about creating a community of finance professionals.
Quandl’s tips for being a great analyst highlight spotting patterns and finding out the ‘why’ behind the numbers. A great way of doing this is to get out and talk to people, be it others in your profession, or others around your business. Discussing tools and apps that you and others have found helpful could make all the difference.
The chances are fairly high that someone, somewhere, will have come across a similar situation in the past. They might even have a solution for it too, and they’re probably willing to share their experience and knowledge to help out others.
Your experience is valuable too, no matter the stage of your career. Find time to note down specific issues you have had, who you spoke to, how they helped, and your eventual solution. Share this with your fellow professionals, and you’ll start to build both profile and influence. One of the great ways to do this is via social media.
Leverage Social Media for Your Brand
Social media is just as important for your professional life as it is for your personal life. There are a number of great platforms available, each offering a different way to build your personal brand.
In business now, many people think that if you don’t have your own online profile, you don’t really exist. Both recruiters and employers will use social media to learn more about you as an individual – whether it’s to check your employment history against a CV you have submitted, to understanding what makes you tick as a person via social media posts.
The best thing is, it only takes 10-15 minutes each day to stay up to date.
Telling people what you are doing, reading relevant content from industry publications, listening to a great podcast – all of these can be done on your way to work, or over lunch. Once you’re in a routine, it’s easy to maintain your social media presence during the day.
By doing this, you’re raising your own profile and starting to build influence, as well as gathering knowledge that will help in your day-to-day work.
And whether you are Finance professionals, or Procurement professionals (or others), this will certainly stand you in good stead as your career progresses.