Susan Hilgers, Vice President, Public Sector at Proxima, shares practical steps to prepare for The UK Procurement Bill
Next Autumn, the highly anticipated Procurement Bill is due to come into force, bringing some significant changes to public sector procurement. The Bill’s proposed changes reflect the Government’s commitment to making procurement more transparent. However, this increased transparency brings increased responsibilities.
By Spring 2024, Cabinet Office will offer training and several other support mechanisms to procurement teams to help them adapt to the incoming changes, as teams prepare to transform their existing processes across templates, training, and digital platforms. Simultaneously, as the new regulations come into effect, procurement teams will play a crucial role in helping suppliers through the changes.
Undoubtedly, the introduction of the Bill will result in widespread change across the public procurement sector. But with several months to go before these support systems come into action, what can public sector procurement teams be doing now, ahead of the training and changes, to prepare for the new normal of public sector procurement in the UK?
Starting today, teams should focus on clearing the decks to get ready. All across the public sector, procurement teams are already at maximum capacity – their conundrum is how to find headroom to prepare and implement the changes without undue impact on their people, suppliers, and service users
Efficiency & Planning: scrutinise your 2024 pipeline
Public sector procurement teams play a crucial role in promoting efficiency while delivering quality goods and services. Authorities should use scarce commercial resource where it has the most impact and value and follow Cabinet Office guidance on the choice of route.
Before next year’s Bill comes into play, commercial teams should thoroughly examine their pipelines and procurement strategies strategy for next year to check again:
- Do we really need to run a regulated procedure, or is there a framework already that meets the need?
- Are we completely aware of all the frameworks we could be using, and are we using them effectively?
- If we are running regulated procedures where there is an available framework, does the case for doing that still stack up?
It is likely that some of the 2024 pipeline will be run under the new Regulations – if this is the case, it would be prudent to build in more time (and resources) for your teams and bidders to digest the changes for the first time.
Dedicating time now to reviewing and evaluating your 2024 pipeline may yield opportunities for you to find efficiencies to release time to plan and digest the changes. It should certainly allow you to plan procurements with enough headroom to bring your internal and external stakeholders with you to adopt and embrace the new approaches.
Cost & resource optimisation: manage tail spend effectively
One of the core features of the Bill is to increase transparency across the commercial lifecycle. Consistent with this approach is the introduction of several additional official notices at different stages of a procurement and contract.
For procurement teams, resource will be required to develop and issue the new notices. One strategy for releasing capacity is to look again at the approach to tail spend management. Could a digital tool release resources currently managing low-value, low-volume spend? For example, for the last two years, Crown Commercial Service has offered a digital Tail Spend Solution, providing organisations with an end-to-end management system, allowing them to have complete control over elements of tail spend.
Utilising this digital marketplace gives public sector procurement teams access to a simple solution and ensures that tail spend is managed compliantly and efficiently.
Digitisation: leverage your current digital solutions better
The final reflection is to examine your use of digital tools, such as sourcing solutions or contract management solutions, consider whether you are making best use of all the functionality available. For example, rather than using the tool as an electronic post box, consider the use of eForms and auto scoring. Other opportunities exist in the evaluation areas (for example using the tool to support online evaluation) and digital contract creation (which can release your physical team and deliver additional capacity to invest elsewhere).
Contacting your digital provider and understanding opportunities available in your current licences may reveal areas where you can leverage your digital tool better.
The impending wave of changes from the incoming legislation represents a pivotal moment in the evolution of public-sector procurement. To find headroom to embrace the change, it is crucial for procurement professionals to prepare now. By embracing efficiency, cost optimisation, and digitisation now, public sector procurement teams can position themselves ready to meet the changes.
Proxima can help your team take proactive steps to be as prepared as possible when the new Bill comes into action. By integrating procurement practices with a comprehensive understanding of the public sector, the team’s approach aims to provide valuable insights and strategies to enhance the effectiveness of teams and drive meaningful impacts within their organisations.