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This quarter’s Connected Procurement Forum again squeezed an enormous amount, possibly too much, into a packed afternoon kindly hosted by Manchester City Council and Chaired by Ian Brown.

One of the key points from the day was that procurement rightly needs to think beyond simple cost to consider the wider economic and social impact of a pound spent locally. How procurement influences public service demand is important when considering wider systems leadership. One means discussed is tendering in ways that give local consortia time to respond effectively – the forward procurement planning work aims to help address this as well as provide opportunities for collaboration across organisations.

Slides from the event are here (please log in first):

The afternoon opened with two of the iNetwork Innovation Awards Finalists ( sharing insights into their work – which demonstrated why they were finalists. Lynda Megram, Oldham Council, and Jason McKenna, Threshold, talked through their flexible commissioning arrangement that both delivers social value and reduces demand.  The bottom line was that every £1 spent saves £3.66.

Peter Schofield, AGMA, explained the shared postal procurement initiative in Greater Manchester, which ultimately won the award. With £700k of saving and 100 new jobs generated other areas were keen to understand the potential. This led to a wide discussion on the potential for wider post service tendering in both other urban and also rural areas. The social value aspect was examined in depth and the potential changes to industry regulations were questioned and insights shared.

Moving on two colleagues from Meridian gave an update on the Audit Recovery Service and how councils had, on average, generated £100k of returned funds when they use the service. Overall £2.5m in the North West since 2012. Given that only 16 North West organisations have used the service, it seems there is potential for more to benefit. Those interested can contact Phil at iNetwork or Peter at AGMA.

Before  the break, Wendy Clarke and Chris Graves from YPO shared their news, service updates, category opportunities and more. YPO is now one of the largest buying organisations in the country with 3 more associate members since September.  Of particular note was that Pro5 is being disbanded and replaced with a more inclusive forum. eTendering was a focus and there was a discussion about repeating the insurance event –  it was agreed to find a date in January. Colleagues from district councils asked that YPO consider reducing the £500k spend increase membership requirement – Wendy  and Chris agreed to take this back. Colleagues were invited to look at the upcoming YPO events and shape category work .

After the break, Todd Holden , Enworks, gave an update on the social value toolkit developed in Greater Manchester out of the low carbon initiative. Linked back to the earlier presentation by Oldham and Threshold, the strategic importance of social value was examined further with broad interest from the group in seeing the toolkit when it is published in the new year.

Moving swiftly on, Paul Maynard, AGMA and Ian Summerscales YPO, shared what is happening with ICT category procurement frameworks, plus the work in Greater Manchester relating to the £12.4 million of Transformation Challenge Award funding.

Sharing forward procurement plans was briefly, but importantly, given the floor next with Sharon Robson from the STaR procurement programme explaining the plans. There was a long discussion about how best this could be achieved with the key message being that the template will go out shortly for colleague to complete and everyone is keen to see how it evolves. STaR agreed to ‘own’ the template design with Peter Schofield’s team kindly offering to bring the data together.

Finally there was a set of updates on transparency and other items from September’s event. Ian Brown wished everyone a happy Christmas, and after a final mince pie, some of the group headed off  to the Christmas Markets outside the Town Hall.