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Amid the challenges lie greater opportunities

Monday March 21st, 2011

By Morven MacNeil, GO Content Editor

Procurex National 2011 provided vital information on how to meet the latest efficiency challenges and examined ways to turn these challenges into opportunities for the procurement profession to shine.

Organised by BiP Solutions, the event took place on 8 and 9 March at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham. Now in its second year, Procurex National attracted a large number of delegates, exhibitors and key decision makers which helped make the event a huge success.

It provided a unique opportunity for all areas of the public sector supply chain – from buyers to suppliers and their sub-contractors – to meet, exchange ideas and hear about the challenges and opportunities that this £220 billion a year sector presents.

The GO Live Keynote Arena welcomed a strong line-up of industry leaders and experts who gave an invaluable insight into the key challenges facing the public sector procurement community, and many joined in the live debate on these issues. Speakers included David Noble, Chief Executive, CIPS; David Clark, Director General, SOLACE; Alastair Merrill, Director of Procurement, Scottish Government; and David Thomas, Commercial Director, HM Revenue and Customs.

David Noble said that now more than ever the spotlight is on procurement, the performance bar is rising and that CIPS are stepping up to meet the challenges ahead. He added: “The procurement profession has never had a better time to get its message across… my main vision is for those involved in procurement to have a license to practise. If that happened we would be taken far more seriously.”

He also reiterated that procurement professionals have to manage the whole supply chain area – it is much more than just costs that need to be looked at.

David Thomas focused on the changing role of public sector procurement in his address. He said: “Public sector procurement is changing. The Government is genuinely interested in procurement, and it is driving that change at a rate that perhaps you haven’t seen before in the public sector. Buyers have to recognise the changes and adapt. It may be uncomfortable for people in the public sector to witness what’s happening, but it is reality. We have to map our minds around it and we have to try and get on and deliver what we can.”

He also focused on the review of Buying Solutions, adding: “Buying Solutions should be at the cornerstone of this change agenda. The reality is that its capability and its role is very much under the microscope as I speak. Both the buying side and supplying side have confirmed that there were major problems in the way Buying Solutions operated before.

“This transformation will take time to work fully. It is not something that is going to be done overnight; it’s not a makeover. If it’s going to be done, do it properly.”

David Clark predicted that in the public sector, outsourcing will go up by £16bn. He said that there are real opportunities for companies who know how to drive out costs.

He explained: “So what will the future look like? A smaller, less supporting state, a greater use of contractors and a very different use of the third sector. I also think there will be new combinations of local authorities.”

Alastair Merrill said that the challenges ahead are huge and that the momentum for change will depend on the public sector working together. He also said that the focus in Scotland was on shared ownership in procurement.

Overall, Procurex National 2011 marked a major step forward in the procurement events market, proving that it is the perfect forum for bringing together the public and private sectors with key advice on-hand for all delegates.

To watch exclusive interviews with the key speakers from Procurex National 2011, please visit the video section.

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