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“Good for business, good for communities”: Local economies and procurement at Procurex Scotland 2019

Procurex Scotland 2019 and the 15th Scottish Government National Procurement Conference were held this year on 29 October at the SEC, Glasgow. You can access our event report on procurement and sustainability here. In the second of our reports looking back at some of the highlights and key themes of the day, six weeks on, we look at the links between procurement and social benefit. Although considering social value as part of any procurement exercise has been mandatory for buying organisations since 2012, buyers and suppliers are increasingly aware that areas such as environmental impact, community activities and contribution to the local economy are increasingly important to service users, employees and businesses. As the talks at Procurex Scotland and the Scottish Government National Procurement Conference showed, considering social impact is also good for business too, with community sustainability going hand in hand with economic growth.

The local economy agenda

Kate Forbes MSP at Procurex Scotland 2019

A keynote address from Kate Forbes MSP, Minister for Public Finance and Digital Economy, began the Scottish Government National Procurement Conference. Ms Forbes’ talk was a survey of many of the ways in which procurement can effect change, on a local and global level. Insisting that “there is great collective power in this room,” Ms Forbes described the need to “build resilience into our own organisations, but also organisations we have dealings with.”

Emphasising the role of building sustainable economies at the local level, Ms Forbes stated that “it’s easy to look at the national picture without realising how powerful the local picture is.” She pointed out that issues of corporate responsibility such as paying a real living wage or addressing gender inequality in the workplace are not simply beneficial for their own sake, but stimulate local economies – in turn feeding back into business. Reminding the Conference audience that “your spend creates £10bn of economic activity,” Ms Forbes underlined the extent to which procurement has a major role to play in stimulating local economies.

An important element of contributing to local economies, as was addressed by several of the day’s speakers, is the role of SMEs. The Supply2Gov tender alerts service allows SMEs to be alerted to upcoming opportunities, through access to the UK and Republic of Ireland’s largest database of public sector contracts. With a particular focus on organisations newer to public sector tendering, Supply2Gov allows businesses to access alerts from the whole of the UK, or simply a local area of their choosing, free of charge. For buyers looking to work more with SMEs, CompeteFor exists to deliver sustainable and measurable community benefits through ‘opening up’ major supply chains from capital expenditure projects to SMEs and local businesses. Aiming for transparency of opportunities through the entire supply chain, CompeteFor’s free service enables businesses to compete for contract opportunities linked to major buying organisations in both the public and private sector – increasing the diversity of organisations participating in the supply chain, and ensuring ethical transparency throughout.

Local communities, national benefits

Scott Bell at the National Procurement Conference

Following Ms Forbes was Scott Bell, Deputy Director of Procurement Development and Construction with the Scottish Government, whose talk focused on specific instances of procurement success that have had wider community benefits. These included the case of a school in Inverclyde which, thanks to a national framework, was able to provide iPads for some of its poorest pupils to use in class, along with the necessary training for teachers; and the ‘baby box’ delivered to every new parent in Scotland, a GO Award-winning project delivered by APS Group. However, as Mr Bell pointed out, the benefits of procurement “are not just about the contract.” By way of example, he pointed to the case of a family in South Uist who were able to have a new boiler fitted in their home – after having to use an oil burner for heat – thanks to the Warmworks scheme. Aside from the benefit to the family, Mr Bell pointed to the fact that Warmworks is a collaboration between a business, a third sector organisation and a charity. The procurement process itself therefore and the collaboration are “good for business, good for employees and good for communities.” Introducing the National Performance Framework, Mr Bell explained that it “describes the Scotland we aspire to.” Despite – or because of – showing the benefits that can be achieved through the procurement process as well as the end result, Mr Bell impressed on delegates that “purpose beats process.”

A seemingly very different topic was addressed in the talk by Paul McNeill, Head of Community Development at Scottish Football. Mr McNeill said that “the impact of football is far bigger than 22 men running about a field”, claiming that “every household in Scotland has some kind of engagement with football” – from supporting teams as fans to working for a business that sponsors or is involved in providing building materials for stadiums. Mr McNeill said that the Scottish FA recognised a need to “take responsibility for being the country’s biggest sport,” and to communicate better the social and business benefits of football to Scotland. Looking at the “social return on investment,” Mr McNeill talked about the economic, social and health, as well as financial, benefits of grassroots football, and the importance of making sure these benefits are communicated widely.

Paul McNeill of the Scottish FA

Beside the financial importance of football for Scotland and Scottish communities, which Mr McNeill made very clear, the link between football and procurement more widely may not seem immediately obvious. However, there was an interesting discussion between Mr Bell and Mr McNeill after the latter’s talk, which made clear how the two fields can learn from each other. Mr McNeill’s talk made clear, said Mr Bell, the importance of leadership space, and how strategic thinking from leaders in key positions can ensure that a wider agenda, and the benefits that it will have, are communicated clearly to both end-users and stakeholders. Moreover, said Mr Bell, “the place agenda features very highly” for procurement in Scotland, with an increased focus on benefiting local economies and communities, which – as the talks at the National Procurement Conference showed – have a positive effect on sustaining economic growth. The Scottish FA provides “a great example,” Mr Bell noted, “of taking something national and applying it locally” – making apparent how a large-scale national industry can benefit local communities, as well as showing how small-scale local economic growth can scale up.

Sharing best practice, celebrating success

The strength of Scottish procurement in tackling local issues was also recognised in a keynote talk by Malcolm Harrison, CEO of the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS), and Nikki Archer, Deputy Director, Head of Procurement and Commercial Policy & Strategy and Head of Procurement Profession with the Scottish Government. Kicking off the GO Excellence Live Stage at Procurex Scotland, Mr Harrison and Ms Archer, interviewed by Scotland Tonight presenter Rona Dougall, described some of the major trends and challenges currently facing procurement in Scotland.

Malcolm Harrison, Nikki Archer and Rona Dougall at the GO Excellence Live Stage

Mr Harrison suggested that “there are areas where Scotland is leading best practice internationally,” particularly noting social value and the impact on local communities. Ms Archer agreed that “the holistic approach [Scotland] takes is unique.” Ms Archer said that assuring social value and a positive wider impact through procurement is “not a tick-box exercise,” urging delegates to look at priorities in individual cases. For example, where a supply chain includes a high proportion of SMEs, Ms Archer suggested that focusing on the local economy impact would be particularly important. This is not always a simple fix, however, and Ms Archer added that “buyers deserve recognition for managing these challenges.”

The GO Awards series of events aims to recognise and celebrate excellence in all aspects of procurement from across the UK, from the public, private and third sectors. As Mr Harrison and Ms Archer kicked off a series of interviews with nominees for this year’s GO Awards Scotland, Ms Archer said that while the procurement environment in Scotland is unique, it is important for Scottish procurement leaders to share best practice with colleagues in Wales and Northern Ireland too. The GO Awards Northern Ireland and GO Awards Wales 2020 events will take place on 10 March and 18 March, respectively, and entries are now open. As well as celebrating organisations’ success and innovation in procurement, the Awards are a great opportunity for teams to share best practice with colleagues and potential partners, including in areas such as Social Value, Environmental Impact and Supplier Relationship Management. See the full list of categories here. The nominations will be announced at the end of January, so enter your organisation or team soon to make sure their success is recognised.

Transforming healthcare procurement at P4H England

The UK’s premier healthcare procurement event, P4H England, returned to the NEC, Birmingham on 4 July 2019. The event welcomed over 1500 delegates from the NHS, the wider healthcare sector and the private sector supply chain, with a packed schedule including keynote talks, training and knowledge exchange sessions, and many opportunities for buyers and suppliers to meet and discuss their needs.

Many of the day’s sessions had standing room only, demonstrating both the quality of the talks on offer and the enthusiasm of the P4H audience.

You can see some of the day’s highlights here, and read more below:

Keynote Arena

The Keynote Arena witnessed a plethora of talks from procurement leaders from throughout the healthcare sector, as well as a motivational lecture from world-famous explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes.

Chair Glen Hodgson kicked off the day by suggesting that “our job today is to avoid the noise and think strategically – focusing on the great work done by colleagues to make the NHS safe.” Stephen Foulser, Customer Engagement Director at NHS Supply Chain, delivered the first talk of the day, reflecting on a year of the new NHS Supply Chain Operating Model. Next up, Michael Pace, Managing Director of Corporate Services at the NHS London Procurement Partnership, stressed the importance of collaborative work to efficient procurement. Mr Pace said that despite the huge changes that have come to bear on NHS procurement over the last 12 months, and what he understands as areas where improvements still need to be made, there was much to be positive about.

“I’m more excited by the opportunities in front of me than I ever have been as an NHS procurement professional before.” – Michael Pace, Managing Director, Corporate Services, NHS London Procurement Partnership

Sir Ranulph Fiennes’ lecture proved to be the day’s main draw for many attendees, with delegates queueing several rows back from the Keynote Arena to hear about the explorer’s experiences over more than 50 years across Oman, the River Nile, Vancouver, Antarctica and the Arctic Circle. Sir Ranulph emphasised the importance of teamwork, framing all his expeditions as the achievements of a dedicated team. Aside from the focus on collaboration, the relevance of Sir Ranulph’s talk to a healthcare audience was made obvious through his sharing of several graphic photos detailing the after-effects of severe frostbite!

ranulph-fiennes-p4h-england

Sir Ranulph Fiennes delivers his keynote lecture

The afternoon at the Keynote Arena was equally busy, with talks including Pia Larsen, Director of Procurement and Supply Chain at University College London NHS Foundation Trust, delivering a detailed case study of what transforming procurement at a particular trust looks like. The theme of asking what ‘collaboration’ looks like, and how it can change NHS procurement, continued with two talks about the experience in different parts of Greater Manchester, from Neil Hind, Procurement Lead at the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, and Joe Lever, Group Procurement Director at the Northern Care Alliance NHS Group. The final keynote talk of the day saw Tom Wynne, Head of Procurement for London at NHS Improvement, talking about the forthcoming Procurement Target Operating Model, allowing delegates to see some of the ways in which NHS procurement is set to be reshaped in the coming months and years.

Market Support and Engagement Zone

The Market Support and Engagement Zone at P4H England 2019 allowed suppliers to understand how they could best engage earlier with buyers across the NHS and beyond. Teams representing Tracker, Supply2Gov, Cyber Essentials and Market Engagement heard first-hand about some of the challenges faced by the private sector and were able to offer expert advice on how to leverage best-in-class tools to improve tender win rates and identify strategic business opportunities. Delegates were also able to visit the on-stand juice blend bar, which proved unsurprisingly popular on a very warm day!

“We’d like to say a massive thank-you to Tru Foo, our juice suppliers, for keeping us and the delegates refreshed throughout the day. We had some really insightful conversations with suppliers looking to increase their visibility in the public sector market, and we hope that each of them left the stand with actionable information that helps them grow their business in this market.” – Susan Staley, Head of Digital Marketing, BiP Solutions

BiP Solutions customers were also offered exclusive access to the VIP lounge, providing a quiet space throughout the day to catch up with colleagues and emails, enjoy refreshments and attend several VIP-only talks.

Health Online

As the official media partner of P4H, Health Online was proud to be represented at the event. Interest in Health Online’s dedicated online healthcare community proved high, with a talk from Health Online Sales Manager Soafyaan Zia seeing delegates literally queueing out of the door to attend! You can learn more via Health Online’s own P4H review.

Soafyaan Zia delivering a talk on Health Online at P4H England

Soafyaan Zia’s talk introduced delegates to Health Online

What’s next?

Scotland’s and Wales’ procurement communities will come together later this year at Procurex Scotland on 29 October in Glasgow and Procurex Wales on 7 November in Cardiff. Register today or learn more about sponsorship opportunities here.

There’s also still time to enter your procurement team or project for the prestigious GO Awards, with presentation ceremonies taking place on the evenings of Procurex Scotland and Procurex Wales. Share your procurement success stories here!

BiP Solutions launches second report in series exploring local government procurement

New market report considers local government trends, challenges and opportunities in a digital world

Download your exclusive copy of the report here.

Today, BiP Solutions is pleased to launch the second in our series of reports focusing on the changing landscape of public sector procurement. Our latest report considers the impact of this changing landscape for local government in an ever-evolving digital world.

The publishing of the Government’s Transformation Strategy effectively kickstarted the journey of digital transformation for Government with many local authorities taking advantage of the components available to them through GOV.UK.

In fact, across local government today, digital transformation is playing a significant role in meeting the needs and expectations of citizens. In light of this, our report considers the key digital trends and innovative approaches transforming service delivery for citizens. It also considers current spend within local government, with a particular focus on IT/Digital spend, and also draws on findings from recent research conducted by our colleagues at iGov Survey to highlight the specific procurement challenges and opportunities facing local government and the wider public sector.

Eddie Regan, PASS Training Consultant at BiP Solutions, said of this research:

The timing of the latest iGov Survey is quite appropriate, given the current uncertainty about Brexit and the continual questions about what impact it may or may not have on public procurement.

Early engagement, innovation and emerging new technologies all have a massive role to play in the future direction of public procurement. The public sector cannot afford to fall behind and this research highlights that whilst the sector is moving in the right direction, more does need to be done to upskill procurement teams and develop effective supplier relationships that deliver true value for all involvement in the procurement process, including and not forgetting, service users.’

Our report also reflects on our recent Procurex Events in Wales and Scotland and considers key ways take to get ahead if you are looking to tap into the local government marketplace, regardless of your prior experience of procurement.

To read the report in full, please access your personal copy here.

To find out more about our solutions, please visit: www.bipsolutions.com

Micro businesses register with new tender alerts service Supply2Gov

It has been over a week since we launched our new brand Supply2Gov. The tender alerts service for sole traders and micro businesses aims to make the public sector marketplace more accessible to smaller businesses.

Registration for the new service is currently free. If you want to find out more, we have all the details below.

Designed for micro and small businesses

Supply2Gov is a fresh and friendly brand that talks to micro and small businesses about the benefits of public procurement. Supply2Gov users can create new and lucrative revenue streams from the public sector supply chain.

With a modern look and feel, Supply2Gov can be a free and easy way for micro businesses to find more tender opportunities. Our application simplifies the whole registration process and presents an intuitive customer journey.

Flexible payment options

Completely new to the market, Supply2Gov tender alerts gives customers the option to ‘pay as they grow’, with a cost-effective monthly plan as well as a new biannual option.

This means customers have the scalability to work with a solution that’s aligned with their business model and suits their cash flow.

Coverage Options

BiP has introduced simplified and comprehensive coverage options, with Supply2Gov starting with free local area coverage and then moving directly to home country cover.

This gives customers full free access to relevant opportunities on their doorstep with the option to upgrade and access their regional market opportunity.

With more growth potential available and payment plans to support phased expansion, the new Supply2Gov is an excellent introductory solution for micro businesses and sole traders looking to break into the public sector marketplace.

Tender alerts for micro businesses

The team behind the brand are delighted with the final product and are excited to see that many sole traders and micro businesses are already interested in the tender alerts service.

Senior Marketing Executive Melissa Russell says: “Our team are all really excited to see Supply2Gov go to market and really kick off 2018.

“We know how time-consuming tender searches can be, especially if you’re a small business. That’s why we’ve made it as easy as possible for users to find procurement opportunities as soon as they become available.”

Reduce the amount of time your business spends on manual searching with Supply2Gov. Find out more about Supply2Gov and tender alerts on the brand’s website.

For a better insight into all our brands, visit our website.