Procurement Is About More Than Cost

Issue 34

In the final part of their six-part series, Rod Brasington, Chief Executive of Prosper, summarises why he believes his organisation's processes ensure the best outcomes for their partners are always achieved, and why procurement is about more than cost…

In the book Lady Windemere’s Fan, Oscar Wilde had Lord Darlington quip that a cynic was ‘a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing’ (1892). In my opinion, never has a truer word been written.

For too long, the procurement industry has focussed on buying products, materials or services at the lowest possible cost. But finally, the debate around price versus quality and delivery has gained some traction in our industry and I feel like we’re really starting to get somewhere.

As a public-sector procurement consultancy, at Prosper we see daily the impact good procurement can have. There’s a pre-conception that procurement is a really difficult process carried out by people who sit in a dark room somewhere tucked away. We see procurement as being a very straight-forward, yet comprehensive process, that can have a real impact on a lot of people.

In the past two years, we’ve made several changes to our operating model to focus on the value and delivery of a project, rather than just cost, and have found in that time, the partners we procure on behalf of, now have far more successful outcomes against their business objectives when following this new approach.

We sit down with everybody involved in a project before we do anything else, identifying exactly what the project needs to achieve so that everyone is clear from the off what the scope is. This means clear, unambiguous specification can be set so that everyone who tenders are costing the project like-for-like and so that no project creep can occur later in the process. A clear set of requirements, and a robust spec means that effective tender and evaluation criteria can then be quickly designed and implemented. Once all tenders are submitted, evaluations can begin. We sit with our partners and work through all submissions, checking all information required has been provided, before a final report including all evaluation scores is prepared so our partner can make an informed decision when awarding the project work.

But where some organisations would see this as being where their work stops, this is where we differ. We set up pre-start meetings to identify and set project goals, key performance indicators (KPIs) and management information (MI) and make sure everybody involved in the projects knows the role they play. Once the project is underway, we have regular catch ups with all the project team (generally monthly), where we continuously monitor performance and the targets agreed to ensure everything is on track and to ascertain if there are any issues that may affect the scheduled programme of works. Once the works are complete, we evaluate the project, to see what worked, what didn’t and what could be done better next time to ensure we’re always learning and improving.

In an ever-changing economic environment, we understand more than ever the pressures organisations face to manage budgets and the requirement to deliver more for less. As a consultancy firm, we know how important it is to look at value for money outcomes and process efficiencies that create positive outcomes. And effective contract management like ours can ensure those outcomes are achieved. It can be said that our clients aren’t cynics, they know the price and value of everything by working with us, unlike Lord Darlington…

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