Lessons in procurement

We’re really excited at Building Better (BB) to announce the launch of the procurement process for our Category 1 (volumetric) framework, live in Spring 2021. Here are three lessons we’ve learnt in our time working closely with our partner, the procurement experts, PFH:

1/ The importance of scoping and engagement

The energy and resource put into pre-procurement activity is critical because it is the bedrock on which all future decisions are made. PFH took us on a journey of deliberate engagement with all of our stakeholders, which started with an understanding of what our members need. In those discussions, it was important to focus on the problems and challenges rather on what the solution might be. However, it was equally important to understand what the supply side is able to deliver so that we could build a framework that genuinely works for everyone.

2/ Strategy and testing

A procurement strategy isn’t just about the number of lots on a framework. It begins with a clear understanding and agreement on your objectives. At BB that has included appointing innovative manufacturers of high-quality products aligned with our values, having an efficient call off process with BB playing an active role, driving value through visibility of an aggregated pipeline and delivering social value. It required pulling together member feedback on the existing call off barriers or customisation requirements for example, and testing them against manufacturer feedback. Engagement with manufacturers happened both informally as well as in a more structured format, with a methodical approach to testing ideas throughout.

3/ The process has to match your objectives

Our members knew from the off that we wouldn’t have all the answers, for example, when it comes to preferable financial terms or improving commerciality over time. The procurement process has to support the engagement needed to arrive at the answers we don’t have, and competitive dialogue (rather than an open or restricted procurement process) best suits that. A couple of manufacturers told us this made them wary because of poor previous experiences but they all understood and agreed with the principle. Now, it’s our job to make sure it runs as smoothly and quickly for all the parties involved. We believe working in partnership is the best way to reach our ambitions and it was fundamental to build a procurement process which supports that.

The deadline for the SQ is the first week of January and the portal to apply can be accessed at https://in-tendhost.co.uk/procurementforhousing/aspx/Home. The Category 1 framework will be followed shortly by a Category 2 (panellised) framework which we’ll post more details about that soon. If you have any questions please do feel free to get in touch.

By Trina Chakravarti, Project Director at Building Better

Published on February 4, 2021

Membership of Building Better is open to any housing association or local authority housing provider in England and Wales.