A project that aims to revolutionise how the Council buys products and services is on target to find £1.8m of savings by 2024.
Procuring for the Future was launched to identify savings and make the buying process as easy as possible for everyone in the Council.
To do that, the procurement team, led by William McQuillian, Procurement & Commissioning Manager, had to think up new ways of working to increase efficiencies.
Merle Stevenson, Procurement Co-ordinator (pictured below front row, centre), talks about the hurdles the team has faced and the processes they have put in place to overcome them.
“A large percentage of contracts awarded by the Council are 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation, which means finding savings gets harder every time these contracts come up for renewal. As part of contract and supplier management we are forensically analysing what and how much we’re buying from suppliers and are looking for savings during the lifetime of contracts. A recent example includes £30k saved through the introduction of recycled copier paper.
“We are also working to identify new procurement frameworks to join that will help increase our collaborative spend. Collaborative frameworks enable shared procurement activity and are an efficient mechanism for contracting. By utilising frameworks the Council benefits from flexibility, reduced transaction costs, time savings, security of supply and a recurring competitive environment. That means suppliers can offer more competitive pricing than if we went direct to market on our own. During 2018/19 the Council spent over £70m through collaborative frameworks, nearly a third of the Council’s annual contracted spend.
“We’ve also started to actively promote to Services the top suppliers within frameworks. These suppliers offer the best value to the Council and often provide a rebate, which means the Council gets money back if we buy from them. In 2018/19 we secured an income of over £300k through rebates that went directly to help with the Council’s budget challenge. We are now looking to identify other suppliers who provide similar ‘cash back’ incentives and will look to extend contracts if potential savings can be made rather than automatically going out to tender.
“We’ve undertaken a lot of work to simplify processes to reduce costs and find best value but, if we want even greater savings we need Services to question spend and only buy when necessary. Some may feel that the Procurement Team ask difficult questions and put hurdles in place, but we all need to look at the bigger picture. We have to reduce demand. That may result in the procurement of new or different products or services to meet the changing needs of the Council, and we have to buy with a longer-term view.
“If we are to be a Council of the Future we also need to work collaboratively to secure benefits, not just with partner organisations but with each other. By working together as one Council we will gain greater purchasing power and identify the best deals that generate the greatest benefits.”
Pictured: Falkirk Council's Procurement Team.