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Procurex North Live 2015 Review

Friday March 6th, 2015

procurex-northWith speculation mounting around regional devolution, Procurex North Live 2015 brought together experts from across the procurement sphere to discuss the implications of this and much more.

Procurex North Live Chairman Colin Cram said: “There were some key debates at Procurex North Live, including the potential changes to procurement off the back of the new Greater Manchester procurement authority, and the day explored the way this authority might cut red tape, making it easier for public sector buyers and suppliers to do business.”

Greater Manchester, with a population of over 2.5 million, is the second most economically powerful region in the UK, and an ‘Alpha City’. Its public procurement spend exceeds £5 billion annually. With the devolution of new powers, it would have much greater influence over its economy to deliver faster economic growth and more jobs.

Mr Cram continued: “Procurex North Live provided the chance to analyse the exciting changes that the North faces; if Greater Manchester is to deliver to expectations and make savings, then it will have to dramatically restructure its procurement.

“The new Greater Manchester authority has the opportunity to use this restructuring to work across the boundaries of the NHS, local government and education sectors. So I predict there will be far fewer procurement organisations, but more specialist procurement expertise.”

Echoing this sentiment was Scottish Procurement Directorate Deputy Director Paul McNulty. During his speech Delivering Economic Growth and Social and Environmental Benefits Through Creative Public Procurement, Mr McNulty explained some of the lessons procurement officials could learn from the Scottish model, by seizing the chances of devolution to meet regional constituents’ needs.

Also focused on regional procurement was Keynote speaker and Crown Commercial Service Chief Executive Officer Sally Collier. During her speech on Alpha Cities: Supporting the Delivery of First Class Services and Economic Growth, Ms Collier explained ways in which the Crown Commercial Service works to support these hubs.

She said:“The Crown Commercial Service has launched new regulations that will make it easier for suppliers in the north and across the UK to access government opportunities, including the requirement for all public sector opportunities to be advertised in one place on the new Contracts Finder portal.”

While this guidance increases companies’ procurement knowledge, Ms Collier explained that procurement officials should seek to build upon their individual knowledge.
She said: “It is essential for commercial colleagues to continue to update their skills and qualifications. They need to look at how they can create an open market, run a lean procurement process and get best value for money on contracts making best use of technology.”

Offering advice on these and many more issues was Principal PASS Consultant Eddie Regan. Mr Regan delivered a range of training sessions in the Buyer Training Zone to explain the latest tendering process updates, including the new UK Public Contracts Regulations, which came into force on the very day of Procurex North Live.

One Training Zone attendee was Crescent Purchasing Consortium Regional Procurement Advisor for the North & North East, Linda Carnie, who commented:

“Procurex North has allowed us to brush up on the EU Regulations. That’s why this conference has been so vital over the years: when you work in procurement is very important to maintain your skills.”
As well as developing their skills, Procurex North Live delegates were advised to expand their business plans in Sourcing for Innovation: Better Outcomes and Reduced Costs, a case study based presentation byThames Water’s Head of Managed Procurement Service, Tessa Fayers.

Ms Fayers said: “Procurement should be about maximising the resources and employees you have, and being bold about what they can achieve.
“Companies can change the ‘blocker’ image of their procurement department by being proactive and engaging with their stakeholders. Procurement officials should put themselves out there and build relationships at the early stages.”

Innovative procurement was also encouraged by BBC Head of Procurement Jim Hemmington, during his Keynote Arena speech Securing First Class Value Through Outsourcing.
Mr Hemmington said: “The key message I would like people to take from my speech at Procurex North Live is that buyers and suppliers should have more open and honest discussions about up and coming tenders. Buyers should think about the business objectives of a tender before they start to engage in the tendering process. Both buyers and suppliers must put effort into the subsequent contract and the relationship to ensure it is sustained.”

Forging new relationships is motivation for many of the delegates who attend Procurex events, as North East Procurement Organisation’s Adam Smithexplained.

“Procurex is a great opportunity to unite buyers and suppliers; its mix of training and exhibition stands provides delegates with an opportunity to broaden their skills and network.

“NEPO attended the conference because we are keen to persuade public sector buyers to join our consortium and utilise our contacts. This event is a good way to meet people and present some of our solutions.

“There is such a wide range of organisations that attend Procurex, such as central government, local government and people from the emergency services; it’s not often that you get this mix of people together in one room and the chance to promote your services to them.”

To get keep abreast of future Procurex events, see the Procurex Live website for dates and details.

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