Steven Sinclair: key ingredients for successful collaborative procurement

Since 1976, NEPO has been a driving force behind collaborative procurement.  The organisation has developed over its 40-plus year history to become a strategic hub that works in partnership with our Member Authorities to establish procurement solutions that deliver value for the public sector, whilst effecting positive outcomes for our supply base, communities and economy.   We don’t stop there; NEPO’s procurement solutions are available for use nationally and over 400 public sector organisations across the UK have come to us as associate members, giving them access to a range of leading-edge solutions that deliver compliance, innovation and value-for-money.

NEPO’s solutions cover a range of categories and include NEPRO (the neutral vendor solution for professional services), fleet, energy, construction, travel and office supplies.

Collaboration is not always easy.  The public sector often has conflicting priorities, differing approaches and strained resources.  But with the right approach we can overcome these challenges and maximise the reach and impact of public services.

Here are NEPO’s key ingredients for successful collaboration:

  1. Senior buy-in: We discuss procurement at the top table. Our members’ most senior decision-makers meet regularly to shape and review collaborative procurement. As a result, NEPO has a clearly defined strategy, with accountability established through robust performance management.
  2. A framework for collaboration: NEPO and our Member Authorities work in partnership to deliver an ambitious work programme. With our members, we have developed a model that maximises expertise and resource, our “Hub and Spoke” framework means that NEPO provides a central “hub” for the work programme, with local authority members acting as “spokes” and undertaking projects that fit with their local expertise and strategic direction.
  3. The right tools: NEPO has invested in a spend analysis system and the NEPO Portal e-tendering system. These shared resources allow the identification of opportunities for collaborative projects and will be the focus of an exciting project in 2019 as we integrate systems to establish an all-encompassing tool that facilitates innovation and ambition.
  4. A shared vision: NEPO and our Members are committed to achieving benefits through collaborative procurement and we deliver an impressive programme of support for our supply base that incorporates training and guidance on a range of topics including market engagement, tendering skills and embedding social value.
  5. An open door: Learning, sharing and relationship-building are key components of successful collaboration. NEPO works with national partners to influence emerging themes and drive public sector innovation. A good example of this is our recent work on social value where the region is piloting the National TOMs within local and regional procurement projects, with support from the Social Value Portal, and is liaising closely with the Local Government Association to share outcomes.

Steven Sinclair is the Head of Procurement at NEPO. He will be speaking on the links between social value and sustainable procurement at the Public Sector Solutions Expo on 20 November, where you can meet the NEPO team at stand F20.  To register or find out more, please click here.