Procurex North Live 2016 Review

Colin Cram (Procurex North Live 2016)

Possibility filled the air at this year’s Procurex North Live when representatives from all levels of the supply chain united at the Manchester Central Convention Complex on Tuesday 8 March. Here BiP Solutions journalist Donald MacInnes recounts the day.

Opportunities for discovery and networking presented themselves in all corners of the venue, from the exhibition stands to the Keynote Arena.

Chairing the Keynote Arena and setting the scene for the day with his opening address was procurement expert Colin Cram. Mr Cram discussed the increasingly challenging public sector procurement environment.

Addressing a packed arena, he spoke about the importance of well-managed procurement in the public sector.

He explained: “Procurement is taking up an increasing proportion of public sector spending. If we exclude social security benefits and pensions, it’s heading towards 40% of public sector expenditure. Public services absolutely depend on procurement – and depend on procurement being managed well.”

Following Mr Cram in the Keynote Arena was Chief Executive of Trafford Council Theresa Grant. Ms Grant reiterated the importance of better public procurement, highlighting the busy and exciting role it continued to play in devolving Manchester as a thriving hub of opportunity.

She commented: “The powers and responsibilities transferred from Government to Greater Manchester are geared towards accelerating growth, boosting skills and encouraging local decision-making and increased self-sufficiency of our businesses, our residents and all our public services.”

Moving onto the main exhibition floor, representatives from all types of organisation could be found networking with attendees, building new relationships and passing on their wisdom and experience to delegates.

One such organisation was ISS Kinloss-Lossiemouth, who could be found in the Best Practice Case Study Zone at the Procurex Learning Academy. ISS Kinloss-Lossiemouth Catering and Retail Manager and Corporate Champion, Zee Fletcher, enthused of Procurex North Live: “Bringing buyers and suppliers together at events such as Procurex is massively beneficial.

“We’re in a small part of Scotland but we’re a global company. Working today and meeting with other suppliers helps us engage together and hopefully develop and make new links for procurement.

“Today I’ve already met people who we are going to be doing business with. Without Procurex, we wouldn’t have actually met with them, especially in the rural area of Scotland we live in.”

ISS Kinloss-Lossiemouth went on that evening to win ‘Highly Commended’ in the ‘Best Service Award – Other Organisations’ category at the National GO Awards 2016/17, held at the Hilton Manchester Deansgate.

Another key organisation at Procurex North Live 2016 was its official event partner the Crown Commercial Service (CCS). In the central CCS Pavilion, Neil Martin, Customer and Digital Communications Manager, discussed the success of the day:

He said: “There has been a constant and steady flow of people coming to the pavilion and it’s been a really good opportunity for us to meet with delegates.

“It’s always important for us to get out and network and engage with our key customers and suppliers and events like Procurex North are a great occasion for us to meet lots of them in one place at one time.”

Building upon this year’s success, Procurex North Live 2017 promises to deliver even more opportunities to buyers and suppliers. With yet another busy schedule of engagement, learning and professional development, Procurex North Live 2017 will return to Manchester Central on 17 March 2017. To register your interest, visit the Procurex North Live website.

STaR procurement illuminates North West: Theresa Grant

Theresa headshot

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…

Learning from international procurement: Tim Cummins


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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