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Procurex Live Keynote Speaker: Tessa Fayers

Monday February 2nd, 2015

Fayers-Tessa-CV-photo-2014Austerity is forcing government bodies to adopt competitive models of procurement; however, these bodies must continue to provide the high-quality services that UK taxpayers expect. Achieving this balance of cost and quality is something head of Thames Water’s Managed Procurement Service (MPS), Tessa Fayers, has mastered. During her time with Thames Water (TW) Ms Fayers has driven savings, nurtured skills and stimulated innovation in its procurement department.

This year Ms Fayers will be attending both Procurex North and Procurex South to share her experience in the seminar Sourcing for Innovation: Better Outcomes and Reduced Costs. Ms Fayers will explain that utility companies have been charged by regulators with reducing total costs of ownership by 18% before 2019 while improving service levels. She will describe how TW has tackled this challenge through innovative procurement, and suggest ways in which such an approach could be adapted to the wider public sector.

Working alongside a team of 22 permanent and around eight temporary staff, Ms Fayers manages sourcing, supplier relationships and category management activities on goods, materials and services used by TW’s business operations. This includes operational spend, corporate spend and second tier supply arrangements for TW’s capital delivery partners. These were just some of the tasks that had to be updated during TW’s reform of its Managed Procurement Service.

Ms Fayers said: “At Thames Water, we’ve taken on a managed transformation which has been phased. The first phase was focused on building a stable operation and getting a sourcing plan. We created a programme office function, responsible for resourcing, tracking and monitoring progress across a rolling activity programme.

 “In parallel, we also completed a skills assessment to identify knowledge and skills gaps in the core team and a full programme of theoretical and practical training. We also sourced consultancy recruits to bolster the team in peak periods, a move that improved morale and decreased staff turnover.”

These changes delivered above-expectation improvements, with TW seeing an overall 6:1 return on investment, when comparing incremental costs to benefits. Ms Fayers explained that her team also worked to cement Procurement’s reputation with TW stakeholders.

She said: “Increasingly, our team were positively engaged by the business to help find ways to release value from the supply chain, so the range of projects we were involved in became broader and more complex.”

Building upon this success, Ms Fayers set about implementing the final phase of procurement reform. This phase included introducing spend analytics, mandating eSourcing, using new project management tools and exploiting eLearning resources.

Ms Fayers commented: “As the head of MPS, I’m extremely proud of the value our innovative managed service has delivered, the positive impact the model has had on the team and the enhanced reputation we now have among internal stakeholders.”

 This transformation, she argues, could be used as a model for other public sector suppliers.

“I believe the public sector is now facing many of the same challenges that we saw at Thames Water five years ago: big cost reduction targets, recruitment inflexibility, misconceptions of procurement’s role, regulations, image problems and minimal training. These challenges drive talented people to look for opportunities elsewhere.”

 She continued: “But these challenges can be overcome if procurement leaders create the case for strategic buying, address knowledge and skills gaps, consider different service models, invest in relationships with stakeholders, and proactively identify opportunities.”


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