I have just joined a housing association in the new post of contracts & procurement manager and have been asked to prepare a procurement strategy. While procurement has been increasingly told to think strategically, what does this actually mean? Drafts which I have inherited amount to little more than pious statements of intent. Any guidance would be appreciated.
The delivery of a strategy is a project that should be project managed to an appropriate standard. The first step in this project is to define project scope, by establishing all of the requirements for the strategy.
Strategic procurement within the Housing Association sector provides a significant challenge; because of the unique way in which the associations are funded and operated. Many Associations will now find themselves in the position of requiring a formal strategic procurement programme for the first time.
In my view thinking strategically means ensuring that all of the procurement imperatives are integrated within the strategy, be they, for example: the local objectives of a particular Association; or, the mandatory elements of an Association’s Corporate Governance.
To assist you with defining the essential elements in the strategy you can refer to the Procurement Requirements for Housing Associations which are set out in Part 4 of the Department for Social Development’s Housing Associations Guide: http://www.dsdni.gov.uk.
There are some critical issues that Associations must take account of in defining their procurement strategies, for example: Delivery of Best Value for Money in Procurement, i.e. the balancing of quality and price; and, the ‘best practice clients’ pilot as a response to the Government’s Achieving Excellence Initiative.
If the effort is invested at the outset then an Association can establish an excellent foundation for future procurement. If the strategic procurement programme is not delivered effectively then the Association could be penalised for not being able to meet its obligations.
Greg Brownlee is Managing Director of Blake Newport, Commercial and Contract Management Consultants: www.blakenewport.co.uk