The 2011 Diamond Review set a challenging agenda for procurement in higher education. So what’s happened since then? Quite a lot actually. Here are five important steps the higher sector sector has taken to achieve smarter procurement in universities.
1 – Setting up a strategic leadership group
Procurement UK (PUK) was established in 2012 and is chaired by Professor Nick Petford. PUK has since coordinated implementation of the Diamond review recommendations.
2 – Better coordination of English purchasing consortia
The four English consortia established Procurement England Ltd. in 2013. The four consortia will retain their regional identities and profile, but PEL will provide an umbrella body that will improve collaboration, information sharing and coordination of procurement in England.
3 – 30% of non-pay spend to be addressed by collaborative purchasing
Metrics to evaluate the level of non-pay spend addressed by procurement have been agreed. In 2011/12, over £800m of HE spend was addressed by the purchasing consortia, delivering over £100m of cost and value savings. The first estimates of the level of collaborative spend will be available in Summer 2014.
4 – Establishing a procurement academy
The Higher Education Procurement Association (HEPA) was established in 2013 with support from the Innovation & Transformation Fund (ITF). A training and development programme has been established, including guidance for senior leaders.
5 – Rolling out Procurement Maturity Assessments
UUK supported a second bid to the ITF that has helped to roll out PMAs. Since 2012, 84 institutions have voluntarily taken an assessment. This is a significant achievement by SUPC and UUK has recommended that all members in England take this opportunity. Of the institutions that have completed the follow-up review, average PMA scores increased from 35.6% to 50.9%.
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Ian Powling is Project Manager of the Efficiency Exchange, a service delivered by a partnership of UUK, Jisc, Hefce and the Leadership Foundation.