Transforming commercial operating standards with on demand procurement


This large central government department has a commercial function of over 150 staff managing approximately £1.5bn of third party expenditure.


In 2015, a cross-government review concluded that our client’s commercial capability was lacking senior commercial leadership, which was exacerbating efforts to transform. Having made several unsuccessful attempts to recruit individuals from the civil service and the private sector, the Chief Financial Officer set out an innovative vision whereby a third party would be engaged to lead key parts of the transformation as a Commercial Strategic Delivery Partner (CSDP).

Proxima’s procurement consultants delivered a dramatic uplift in the commercial capability of our organisation not only through bringing in best practice from outside and successful recruitment, but also through re-energizing, developing, coaching and mentoring our existing team.”

Chief Financial Officer

The primary objective was to deliver an integrated, fit-for-purpose Commercial Directorate, which would mean creating a single function (from 3 silos) and delivering a successful uplift in commercial capability in line with central government operating standards. As a result, the commercial function would find it easier to attract talent and be able to build better internal and external relationships; aiding strategies, plans, and outcomes.

Our Approach

Having won an OJEU Open Procedure, Proxima was selected as the CSDP having demonstrated the ability to offer high quality credible staff with “real world” delivery capability in the public and private sectors. We immediately implanted a senior leadership team to lead the commercial function. The engagement had three principle parts;

  • Strategic advice to validate the target operating model, followed by planning for design and implementation
  • On demand procurement delivery of the transformation and leadership on key categories. This would also include upskilling, supporting recruitment, and knowledge transfer
  • Resource augmentation to provide “on demand” commercial capability where the client had gaps or needed to accelerate delivery

Outcomes and Deliverables

The on demand procurement partnership was highly innovative and represented a new approach for central government, using numerous innovative and creative approaches to bring new ideas and challenge to the organization. Together, we created a single commercial function, reporting into the CFO, of c. 170 FTE and that was accountable for the c. £1.5bn annual supplier expenditure. Other key outcomes:

  • The Blueprint submitted to the Treasury and Cabinet Office led to our client being one of the few functions to receive approval to invest further in the Commercial Directorate.
  • Proxima built a model for assessing the client against the GCF COS framework, which led to a clear improvement plan covering all eight standards and forming part of the commercial transformation plan.
  • Over the course of the contract period, Proxima supported the client in replacing the Proxima team with their own recruits and covered other critical roles where requested.
  • In leading key categories, Proxima built strong business partnerships, driving closer links and enabling better commercial integration, joint planning, and enhanced commerciality within the functions.
  • The “on demand” procurement model enabled our client to draw on Proxima fill key roles or deliver projects when required, delivering expertise and acceleration where required

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