In anticipation of her Procurex North Live 2016 keynote speech on the benefits of collaborative procurement, Chief Executive of Trafford Council Theresa Grant tells BiP Solutions reporter Julie Shennan about her work on the STaR initiative and its procurement recommendations.
Theresa Grant is Chief Executive at Trafford Council and Head of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), which includes ten local councils and has a population base of about 2.7 million.
Ms Grant said: “My role at GMCA is about ensuring that we are getting value out of our contracts, maximising our savings through procurement, and driving value for localities through the Social Value Act.”
While Trafford has a Greater Manchester hub to process large contracts, it also has its own local procurement service which the council used to establish the STaR collaborative procurement agreement with neighboring authorities.
Ms Grant explained: “STaR stands for Stockport, Trafford and Rochdale and is an initiative that was launched in 2014 to deliver procurement services locally.”
Since its founding STaR has generated £7.5 million of savings.
Ms Grant said: “STaR’s actions have included outsourcing its goods and works, as well as managing multimillion-pound contracts.”
To ensure that it continues to work well, STaR monitors its own performance with customer engagement surveys. In a recent survey 88% of STaR customers said that the service was good and met their needs.
However, as Ms Grant explains, the initiative has faced its share of challenges.
She said: “When starting STaR we were most worried that it wouldn’t be politically accepted, because its leaders came from three different political parties. Yet we have not had a political issue. On the contrary, our peers encouraged us in the venture because they could see potential STaR savings would mean less need for cuts.
“One of the challenges we faced was merging our different working cultures and trying to become one. We had to take our processes and make them compatible with a single system.”
While this presented challenges, Ms Grant noted that it also brought quick wins.
She said: “Local authorities who want to get involved in collaborative procurement need to invest in some good resources, engage in proper planning and look for the quick wins.
“If you are a collaborative of local authorities then why not draw up a list of all your common suppliers and map the spending across all of your contracts. This will allow you to see which suppliers are gaining the most business in your area, and renegotiate big contracts for better value.”
Ms Grant said STaR had used such quick wins to gain momentum and support.
She added: “There is massive value to be driven out of procurement and it makes for painless savings.”
Such savings help to reduce the increasing strain on the UK’s public services, exacerbated by an ageing population.
Ms Grant commented: “To deal with the larger number of people using public services longer we need to think more creatively about procurement, and revolutionise the system.
“Key to transformation in public sector services is early involvement of procurement experts, because they have creative ideas about saving money.
“There are innovative procurement ideas within each local area; they just need a little pressure to come out.”
Helping apply this pressure are events like Procurex North Live 2016.
Ms Grant explained: “Events like Procurex help to promote creativity; they help people find ways to work with the regulations to boost business.
“Procurex North is great, because it allows authorities like us to network and share best procurement practice, without having to travel all the way to London.”
The Chief Executive concluded: “The key message I will be delivering at Procurex is that procurement people need to think more strategically, involving themselves in every conversation about reshaping local government services.”
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…