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Maximising opportunity

Tuesday November 3rd, 2009

By Morven MacNeil, GO Features Editor

For buyers and suppliers from both the public and private sectors, Procurex Scotland 2009 was the year’s must-attend event.

More than 3000 key decision makers from all stages of the supply chain attended Procurex Scotland 2009, a free to attend event which was held on October 28 and 29 at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC) in Glasgow.

Attending Procurex Scotland 2009 gave buyers from the public and private sectors a platform to maximise the benefits of their purchasing functions and engage directly with the supplier community. The event gave attendees the occasion to network with professionals from across all types of industry, providing them with a unique opportunity to seek out new business contacts. Attendees also had the chance to hear about the very latest issues affecting the public and private sectors at three dedicated training zones, each of which featured a series of workshops.

The Supplier Development Programme, a local authority partnership programme established to offer SMEs the opportunity to grow and diversify through procurement, also supported an Enterprise and Business Support Zone which gave attendees the opportunity to meet organisations dedicated to assisting professionals reach the standards required in competing for and winning tenders in the public or private sector.

Scottish Government Fifth National Public Procurement Conference

Also taking place on the first day of Procurex Scotland 2009 was the Scottish Government Fifth National Public Procurement Conference, which attracted over 500 delegates. The conference began with an update from Alastair Merrill, Director of the Scottish Procurement Directorate, while the keynote address was provided by Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth John Swinney MSP, who gave a ministerial perspective on the importance of procurement to Scotland’s continuing economic prosperity. BBC Scotland Political Editor Brian Taylor chaired the conference.

Alastair Merrill highlighted to delegates the importance of procurement during these tough economic times and how the Scottish Public Procurement Reform Board is a key lever in achieving this. He said: “Good procurement decisions will be essential to maintain the quality of public services to support the Scottish Government’s economic recovery plan and to deliver the national purpose of sustainable economic growth. This is why the Public Procurement Reform Board is refreshing its strategy for the next phase of procurement reform.

“We’re now moving into a new phase of procurement transformation, refocusing our efforts to consolidate the achievements and accelerate the delivery of the benefits of transforming procurement.

“Cash savings are important but good procurement is not just about buying the cheapest, it must deliver further, real and lasting benefits on the ground, both in terms of money saved and in terms of quality improvements and other benefits delivered. We must measure and monitor progress closely to grant continual improvement.”

Mr Merrill also announced the four major priorities for the next phase of Scottish public procurement reform. These are: maximising efficiency and collaboration across public sector procurement; delivering and demonstrating real cash savings across the public sector; improving access to public contracts, particularly for SMEs; and embedding sustainable procurement at the heart of the reform agenda.

He concluded: “Delivering value for money in procurement is about balancing immediate financial considerations – saving money and maintaining standards of service, with longer-term sustainability considerations – the environmental, social and local economic impact of procurement decisions. Our vision of success is clear: the Scottish public sector procuring collaboratively to achieve sustainable economic growth, to deliver savings and value for money, to improve the quality of its services, to buy sustainably and to improve and ease access for suppliers, in particular SMEs.”

John McClelland CBE, author of the Review of Public Procurement in Scotland, gave delegates an update on the Public Procurement Reform Programme and his thoughts on how Scottish public procurement has progressed since his landmark report was published in 2006. He highlighted in particular a cultural change among procurement professionals. He said: “The appetite among procurement professionals to grasp the nettle and to stake a claim for greater recognition of the procurement profession has been achieved, with many working even harder than before. They have also been working smarter and developing more professionalism than was probably being delivered in the past. I think there has been a commitment to build the reputation of the procurement profession within the public sector, and from being an undervalued profession, I think it has come of age in its ranking with other key professions in the public sector.”

John Swinney MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth, also announced the Scottish Government’s Sustainable Procurement Action Plan at the conference. Containing ten steps for public bodies to embed sustainability in the buying of goods and services, the Action Plan seeks to ensure that environmental considerations such as whole life costs are taken into account in procurement decisions.

Mr Swinney said: “This Action Plan sets out a consistent template for public bodies to follow and seeks to ensure that buying decisions will be informed by proper consideration of all the social, economic and environmental impacts – and benefits – relevant to the goods or services being purchased.

“Adopting the Action Plan will help every public body contribute to the shared agenda of tackling climate change, building a sustainable Scotland and getting best value for the public purse.”

Mr Swinney also confirmed that the Scottish Government has changed its terms and conditions for goods and services to require sub-contractor invoices to be paid within 30 days of submitting a valid invoice, with the aim of driving prompt payment throughout supply chains.

Mr Swinney continued: “Companies of all sizes face challenges as a result of the recession and they rightly expect prompt payment from government. The Scottish Government is leading by example with 95 per cent of invoices paid within ten days. The change we have now made means that sub-contractors providing goods and services to the Scottish Government should be paid within 30 days. I want all public organisations to ensure that contractors and sub-contractors are paid promptly and I encourage every organisation to follow the Scottish Government’s example by adopting these contract clauses.”

GO Scottish Business Summit

Taking place on day two of Procurex Scotland 2009 was the Government Opportunities (GO) Scottish Business Summit. The Summit gave Scottish and UK companies the opportunity to showcase their services to public and private sector buyers. The conference examined how effective procurement programmes can help spur an economic upturn and how the latest technology can improve procurement, and outlined what programmes are in place to assist businesses.

Delegates were addressed by some of the most influential figures in Scottish business, including inspirational entrepreneur Michelle Mone, founder and co-owner of MJM International, who was making her only Scottish speaking engagement of 2009 at the Summit. Secretary of State for Scotland Jim Murphy MP gave the keynote address, while Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce assessed how businesses can make the most of opportunities in the current economic climate. GO Managing Editor Grahame Steed chaired the event.

Stella Manzie, Director General for Finance and Corporate Services at the Scottish Government, explained to delegates the role of public procurement in Scotland, highlighting climate change, expenditure reductions and the recession as the main challenges for public expenditure and wise procurement purchasing.

She also informed delegates that good procurement means improving quality, saving money and, more importantly, buying sustainably. Diversity in the supply chain and encouraging SMEs as well as larger businesses to get involved in public procurement is also essential.

Ms Manzie said: “Scotland is recognised across Europe as being at the forefront in public procurement terms. We know that we’re not absolutely where we need to be, but we’re trying to improve on that best practice all the time.”

Secretary of State Jim Murphy MP said that over the next four years the UK Government plans to halve the current national deficit, and that banking is to become far more transparent and encouraged to develop long-term value.

Structural challenges identified by the Government include the expanding middle class in China and India – their numbers are expected to treble in the near future, presenting a huge opportunity for exporters. The evolution in new technologies for delivering government services, added to changes in the developed and developing world, will also massively affect the Scottish economy, said Mr Murphy.

Liz Cameron informed delegates that ‘business is the wealth creator for Scotland’, identifying three key themes in achieving this – public sector intervention and private sector initiative; new business and alliances; and people.

Michelle Mone was the closing speaker at the Summit, talking in detail about her past experiences and how she has worked her way up to become one of the most influential business women in the UK. Ms Mone gave a personal and heartfelt rendition of the challenges she faced in making her innovative business ideas successful, and urged delegates to ‘think outside the box’. When asked for her view on whether the Scottish Government is doing enough to help SMEs, she said: “I believe the Government has to do a lot more for business. They need to get rid of the patenting and registration costs to make us the nation of innovators that they talk about.”

GO Awards Scotland 2009

The second annual Government Opportunities (GO) magazine Scottish Excellence in Public Procurement Awards took place on the evening of the first day of Procurex Scotland 2009. The GO Awards Scotland aim to recognise those Scottish procurement professionals and their private and third sector partners who have excelled in their field.

GO has an established history of showcasing the high levels of public procurement expertise, innovation and achievement to be found across the UK – through both the publication itself and the National GO Excellence in Public Procurement Awards. The National GO Awards have been held on a UK-wide basis for seven years, but 2008 saw the launch of a dedicated Scottish awards ceremony in recognition of the innovative procurement reforms achieved in Scotland since the publication of John McClelland’s Review of Public Procurement in Scotland in 2006. GO Managing Editor Grahame Steed hosted the evening which was held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Glasgow, while impressionist Rory Bremner – best known for his satirical humour on programmes such as Bremner, Bird and Fortune – was the after dinner speaker.

The judging panel for the GO Awards Scotland included many of the procurement and business community’s leading experts: Gordon Dickson, Scottish Government; Paul McNulty, Deputy Director of Policy and Development, Scottish Procurement Directorate, Scottish Government; Duncan Eaton, former Chief Executive of NHS PASA; Barry Graham, Head of the Central Government Centre of Procurement Expertise (CGCoPE); Vince McKeown, SCDI; John McClelland CBE, author of the Review of Public Procurement in Scotland; Iain McMillan CBE, Chief Executive, CBI Scotland; Jim Miller, Director of Strategic Sourcing, NHSScotland; Angus Warren, Chief Executive, Advanced Procurement for Universities and Colleges (APUC); and Grahame Steed, Managing Editor, Government Opportunities (GO) magazine.

Special mention must go to Paul McNulty from the Scottish Procurement Directorate at the Scottish Government, who received an Outstanding Contribution Award for his services to procurement. Mr McNulty said: “I’m very surprised and honoured to receive this Award. I regard it as a tribute to the many great people I’ve had the good fortune to work with, in the Scottish Government and right across the public sector. In particular I’d like to thank Nick Bowd [former Director of the Scottish Procurement Directorate], who has been my good friend and mentor for over a decade, and John McClelland.”

The GO Awards Scotland 2009 winners were as follows:

GO Sustainability Award (incorporating CSR) – sponsored by Pertemps Recruitment Partnership Ltd

Winners – City Building (Glasgow) LLP

Procurement and Supply Chain Management Team, Fife Council

Other finalists – G4S Secure Solutions (UK); Regeneration Team, Glasgow Housing Association; Remploy Furniture, Remploy Ltd; and Wates Group

GO Healthcare Supplier Award – supported by NHSScotland

Winner – Fresenius Medical Care (UK) Ltd / NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

Other finalists – Currie & Brown (UK) Ltd / NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde; Fresenius Medical Care (UK) Ltd / Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh; Gardiner & Theobald and Interserve Project Services Ltd / NHS Fife; and PJS Foods Ltd / NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Lothian

GO Best Service Award – sponsored by BiP Solutions

Winner – dbda / Road Safety Scotland

Highly Commended – Pertemps Recruitment Partnership Ltd / Central Government Centre of Procurement Expertise (CGCoPE)

Other finalists – e4d&g / Dumfries and Galloway Council Smarter Schools Team; Fresenius Medical Care (UK) Ltd / NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde; Mucky Puddle Partnership / Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Authority; and Rivo Software Ltd / National Library of Scotland

GO / John F McClelland Collaborative Procurement Award

Winner – Procurement Scotland

Highly Commended – Supplier Development Programme, Glasgow City Council

Tayside Procurement Consortium

Other finalists – Central Government Centre of Procurement Expertise (CGCoPE); City of Edinburgh Council; and Fife Housing Association Alliance

GO Team Excellence Award – Sponsored by BiP Solutions’

Procurement Advice and Support Service (PASS)

Winner – National Procurement Programme Management Office, NHSScotland National Procurement

Highly Commended – Central Procurement Unit, Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Councils

Other finalists – Commercial Services, Accountant in Bankruptcy; Supplier Development Programme, Glasgow City Council; Tayside Procurement Consortium; and The New Stobhill and New Victoria Hospitals Capital Equipping / Procurement Project Team

GO Individual Excellence Award

Winner – Robert Stewart, Deputy Head of Procurement, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde 

Other finalists – Andy Door, Procurement Manager, Scottish Prison Service; and Helene Holden, Procurement Training Analyst, Scotland Excel.

GO Outstanding Contribution Award

Winner – Paul McNulty, Deputy Director, Policy and Development, Scottish Procurement Directorate, Scottish Government

Commenting on the Awards night, Grahame Steed said: “Once again, the GO Awards Scotland have demonstrated the breadth and depth of talent in the Scottish procurement sector. It was clear from the quality of entries into this year’s Awards that there is a great deal of innovation and commitment to constant improvement from both buyers and suppliers. Well done to each of the finalists, and congratulations to all who were winners or highly commended.”

A full review of the GO Awards Scotland 2009 is available as an eBook on the GO website –

Procurex Scotland 2009, the Scottish Government Fifth National Public Procurement Conference, the GO Scottish Business Summit 2009 and the GO Awards Scotland 2009 were organised by BiP Solutions, the Glasgow-based leading provider of innovative supply chain solutions for the procurement sector and publisher of Government Opportunities magazine. 

Following the success of last year’s Procurex Scotland event, BiP Solutions has also launched Procurex National, which will be held at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham on 9 and 10 March 2010. For further information, or to register, please visit

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