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Public procurement - a force for good

The adage ‘What did the Romans do for us?'’ prompts reflection on the lasting impacts of ancient innovations in architecture, governance, law, and infrastructure - reminding us that many modern practices are not as novel as they appear, but rather, are evolved forms of past wisdom.  

Blog - 800x440 - Public procurement, a force for good

This concept parallels the continuous evolution and transformation within today’s business realm, particularly in public procurement. The introduction of the new Procurement Act, effective from October 2024, stands as a significant overhaul in the field, emphasising the entire life cycle of public contracts - from initiation to completion - with a keen focus on transparency, sustainability, and supplier performance monitoring. The Act regulates new DNA commercial activities through the whole life cycle of public contracting, from pre-procurement market engagement through to contract award and contract management and implementation. There is an emphasis on transparency, together with obligations to publish notices throughout the life cycle of a contract, and a greater focus on contract management and monitoring suppliers’ performance. The new procurement act marks a reform for buyers, suppliers, sustainability and economic growth, this is a positive change and should be seen as an opportunity, not a burden.

V4S are working with LAs on new future states involving predictive analytics, integrated solutions, and data driven solutions.”

Procurement teams have been active in their promotion of the new regulations along with a continued focus on strategy and policy for economic growth, ESG, climate emergencies, and scope 3 emissions. There are and always will be competing and conflicting strategies that procurement leaders need to tackle, whilst also being commercially minded.

In this short piece, I attempt to look at three areas of public procurement that constantly need, to merge the new act with overall strategy, ensuring its impact is a force for good.

There are several features in the new bill that will transform and challenge contracting authorities. Procurement leaders will need to absorb this new DNA, adapting policies, processes, systems, people, and unifying data, enabling a forward pipeline of new opportunities to become visible. The new notice requirements are extensive and will likely increase the administrative and management burden on contracting authorities. Looking behind the reforms, I want to help contracting authorities merge new thinking and new trends along with the new act.

Lesley Kippax, Director of Consulting Services

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Does your approach “speak” data?

The introduction of a number of new notices covering the entire procurement lifecycle will support supply chains in understanding how the public sector operates, this may be as stand-alone contracting organisations or purchasing as part of a consortium or combined authorities. It is likely that behind this information is intelligent data that will help to understand buying trends, demand surges, and where there could be disruption in supply i.e. shortages, which affects the price equilibrium or price increases throughout the supply chain that can no longer be absorbed.

Information for commercial pipelines should come from unified data, buying decisions, contract expiration, contract performance, new requirements, commissioning intentions, and corporate strategy. V4S have been working with our clients to establish a capability framework, then to intelligently orchestrate data available and make connections looking at data from available source systems. We are working with LAs on new future states involving predictive analytics, integrated solutions, and data driven solutions. Our work has brought AI into daily operations, making it less challenging by standardising, improving sharing, and streamlining the procurement function.

Are you developing your supply chain?

Utilising data from its various sources, to engage in understanding your supply chain and supply markets, will enhance your decision-making ability. In a private sector survey, 79% of respondents advised insights, advice, data and tools, improved supply chain management, and organisational decision making. The force of this approach helps to understand where risks and issues might come from in your supply chain, such as inflationary risks, geopolitical issues, and stagflation. Understanding your supply chain and supporting supply chain development can offer up alternative suppliers and new supply lines, for buyers to consider.

What is your pipeline, where can you collaborate and maximise opportunities, and where can you integrate solutions, driving business impact?

Using data driven solutions is a primary driver of being able to embed the new procurement act and drive new decisions.

Are you developing your team?

This is a very interesting one for me, as we continue with remote working, what impact is this having on our relationship with your suppliers? How do you ensure your team members achieve all these changes and results, whilst having little engagement with key suppliers? Procurement leaders must establish when, how, and where work should be conducted. When should you visit suppliers, when should you negotiate with them, should this be on-line or offline? Covid has changed how we interact with suppliers - we prefer, or have got use to using, Teams or Zoom.

A recent survey conducted with business leaders suggested that face to face negotiations achieve better results for buyers. As much as what is visible in the new act, policy and strategy, it is also important to look at how you merge these changes into a force for good, for priming the market, assuring supply, relationship management, and development of your own team in our evolving profession.