Learning from international procurement: Tim Cummins

Posted On: 8th February 2016


Ahead of his Procurex North Live 2016 keynote speech on international procurement best practice, CEO of the International Association for Contract and Commercial Management (IACCM) Tim Cummins tells BiP Solutions reporter Julie Shennan how public sector buying is changing.

The International Association for Contract and Commercial Management (IACCM) is a global procurement consultancy with staff on six continents, representing around 12,000 member organisations across 164 different countries. This wide reach gives IACCM CEO Tim Cummins a global perspective through which to view UK public sector procurement.

Mr Cummins said: “Transparency in UK public sector procurement is far superior to many other countries; but efficiency is a different case, as we know there are other countries with far faster procurement cycle times.”

To improve this, Mr Cummins said procurement departments in the UK must think less about price or compliance and more about value. This means considering how they can build systems and skills to deliver this value.

He commented: “Attitudes within the UK public sector toward procurement need improvement. It can be hard to get civil servants to change the way they approach the supply market, but it needs to be done to keep public procurement strategies evolving.”

However, Mr Cummins noted that the UK Government has taken steps to modernise procurement.

He said: “The UK’s move to commercially reform its public sector procurement culture is a positive change that has led government to redefine the way that many public services are delivered, by improving public sector relationships with private sector suppliers.”

These changes, the CEO said, have been recognised overseas.

He explained: “There is tremendous international interest in the UK Crown Commercial Service reform. As I travel the world, a lot of people ask me about the method and implications of the changes. This shows that the UK is internationally perceived as leading public sector procurement reform.”

Yet, Mr Cummins noted, the UK could still learn a lot from its international counterparts.

He said: “Procurement models differ greatly from country to country; we certainly see a great deal of innovation in places like Australia, which is way ahead of the UK in building contracting models and supplier relationship management. Likewise, the governments in Finland and Denmark are doing a lot of work designing contracts for end users.”

He continued: “On the other hand, I recently worked in China where the whole idea of using commercial procurement models in the public sector is very new. Yet, because it is so new, there is a lot of investment being put in to raise contracting skills in the university sector, as well as launching wide-scale training.

“Compare this to the situation in the UK, where procurement bodies have to retrain people, and there isn’t the same dedication of resources.”

This is why, Mr Cummins argues, the sharing of procurement knowledge is so valuable.

He explained: “Events like Procurex North Live provide an opportunity to learn from experts, network and appreciate some of the new procurement practice coming through in the market.”

To comment upon such market developments, Mr Cummins will take to the Procurex North Live 2016 Keynote Arena stage.

The CEO said: “My talk at Procurex will give a perspective on procurement best practice. IACCM has worked with health services, local governments and national authorities, so we will bring insights into what does and doesn’t work, particularly in commercial contract management, which is a style key to UK public sector reform.”

To join in these conversations, register for Procurex North Live 2016 today. Tickets are free for public sector delegates and cost just £95 for private sector delegates.

For further advice on public sector procurement, keep following the BiP blog…

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