Don’t miss Keith Winter at Procurex Scotland! The Executive Director of environmental, Enterprise and Communities, Fife Council will be discussing “Maximising the Economic Impact of Public Sector Procurement” on 23 October 2018.
With less than a week to go, we interviewed Keith Winter ahead of the event.
Keith, you will be presenting at the Scottish Government 14th National Procurement Conference later this month. Why is it important for procurement professionals to come along to this event?
I think it’s important to attend so we can showcase a major piece of work that’s been undertaken to consolidate the approaches to procurement.
This work has been led by SOLACE working with the Scottish Government and supported by the improvements in service to which procurement officers across councils will have contributed.
At events like the Scottish Government 14th National Procurement Conference we can discuss this piece of work – what does it tell us, how does it help us and whereas a sector does it challenge us to look at addressing what are probably multi-faceted challenges in each and every local authority around procurement?
Working together we can dispel some of the misperceptions that exist around procurement as the ‘blocker’ and ask how can procurement work through other activities in the council to position itself better and be a stronger corporate tool?
The session that you will present is called “Maximising the economic impact of public sector procurement” – how can delegates benefit from attending this session?
I think the benefit would flow from an understanding of some comparable data. This might allow them to develop discussions with different services within their individual organisations to see where opportunities might exist around employability, benefit clauses, local supply vs national framework, specifications and where greater purchasing power might be deployed on a more regional basis.
It will also be beneficial for SOLACE to meet and chat with delegates. One of the things that might shock suppliers is just how few businesses we engage with across Scotland now.
I am looking forward to having face to face discussions from a procurement perspective but also from a local economy and local community position to help strengthen local businesses.
Can you tell me a little bit about the work Environment, Enterprise and Communities does at Fife Council?
We have Building Services, which is a major £110m building construction activity involving a lot of procurement purchasing. We have Facilities Management, which deals will all the catering and cleaning activities across our schools and a couple of our local trusts, so we have major engagement with local businesses and employers there too. We are involved in Planning, Economic Development and Transportation, so again there are lots of opportunities to influence different contracts and as clients to be informed better by procurement colleagues not just as to how we can safeguard the public pound but also how we can exploit opportunities and perhaps better understand how businesses approach contract engagement as well as why some businesses don’t engage locally when they could.
What procurement challenges is your organisation currently facing?
Speaking specifically from a Fife perspective, though some of this will overlap with colleagues elsewhere, there is a perception among local businesses that we are only interested in doing things through national frameworks to their exclusion.
We do look to construct contracts and arrangements for procurement which favour the scale of companies that exist in Fife, for example. We also need perhaps to get smarter in how we specify procurement-led contracts and the mix in the contracts to allow different companies to collaborate and then meet the needs of the council. I think the other aspect around what we are trying to deliver is: do we truly understand what would work best in the interests of business? I think a lot of it is around communication and conversation and having a clearer, smarter understanding of knowing that you can work with councils.
Currently, we are doing some work with Scotland Excel to look at how we might work smarter and where we might look for opportunities across the £300m+ annually that we spend via procurement routes.
Fife has been named the most enterprising place in Britain for 2018; what can other regions learn from the county?
I think it’s in part a reward to a lot of the teams and staff that have been involved in initiatives that have been up and running for a while, so it’s not all about new initiatives but also about linking different opportunities.
It shows that we are working with businesses through our Fife Economy Partnership and our Opportunities Fife Partnership. It’s developing and looking at companies and embedding the culture of enterprise to work with our 18 high schools and their primary school clusters on different events.
It’s also about promoting the STEM agenda, highlighting the benefits it can bring to other councils. We have also had the chance of working with our colleagues in Education and Children’s Services and our colleagues in further and higher education have really aligned strongly with us too. We have been able to support them in a lot of their core business-as-usual approaches. So, we have gained good returns in areas without a lot of additional expense.
The National Procurement Conference and Procurex Scotland are being held on the same day at the SEC Glasgow. How can events like these improve the knowledge and skillset of procurement professionals across Scotland?
I think an obvious way is making sure people are efficiently informed about what the current challenges are, where these challenges might be heading, and what the broader contextual changes that are going to impact might be.
I think the other important thing is the knowledge sharing and best practice sharing which can occur between individuals through the mainstream elements of the conference as well as the networking – it’s about understanding what others are facing up to and dealing with and knowing that there is somebody there who can perhaps answer the questions you have.
Don’t miss Keith Winter at Procurex Scotland- book your place now.