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Public sector procurement is more than price

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Kin + Carta recently attended ProcureX Scotland at Glasgow’s SEC Arena – an event aimed at connecting public sector buyers and suppliers across the country. Over 1,600 took part in the event, reflecting the importance of Scotland’s £13 billion public marketplace.

One of the great pleasures of walking around the exhibition was seeing and talking to the diverse range of suppliers taking part. From office cleaning solutions to electric fire engine manufacturers, all were there to advertise their wares, make new contacts, listen to speakers and find out what the public sector is really thinking when it comes to choosing goods and services. 

Showing value

A big theme we took away from the conference, which is applicable across the UK, is how the approach to public service procurement has developed over the past few years. 

The public sector is reliant on the innovations and experience that the private sector can offer. However, there is a common misconception that the cheapest option will usually win when it comes to procurement. Price is no longer the be all and end all for choosing suppliers. Instead, it's about demonstrating value. 

Cross government procurement benefits are more important now than ever. They are looking for services that make it easier to manage engagement with the public sector or coaching and mentoring to grow the skill sets of civil servants that sets them up for success in future. 

Buyers are closely looking at how the suppliers can deliver value to the communities they serve. Sustainability must be baked into whatever’s being offered. People and planet are as important as profit. And all this must be measurable and evidenced.

Doing good matters

This new way of thinking can be seen in the Scottish Government’s approach to procurement. Its focus is towards delivering outcomes which are Good for Business, Good for Society, Good for Places and Communities, and Open and Connected.

The Climate Change Act 2019 commits Scotland to net-zero emissions of all greenhouse gases by 2045, so sustainability is at the centre of most public sector procurement measures. Building economic resilience and growing an inclusive economy in Scotland is key.

Sustainability and accessibility should also be at the heart of any engagement in Scotland and the rest of the UK, and not just a consideration. If not, you won't be opening the champagne on procurement decision day. 

Proving long term value

So how do you win a procurement process by demonstrating value that goes beyond simply being the cheapest supplier?

At Kin + Carta we have a great example of how measurable value can be delivered in our partnership with the Civil Service Environment Network (CSEN).  The Network's mission is to build environmental knowledge and policy capability across the Civil Service.  We work with them to educate, develop and inspire all civil servants, to build their environmental knowledge and capability in order to deliver sustainable digital public services.

Kin + Carta is a certified B Corp and, as part of our global goal to save clients 1m tonnes of CO2, we have created a carbon calculator that allows teams to record digital activities related to a project, then automatically generate statistics and long term usage predictions. That means teams can choose to do things differently because they have the data to inform those choices. 

We have adapted the calculator for use by the Civil Service and it really is making a difference. A project with the Trade Remedies Authority, for example, reduced emissions in 70kg CO2e by 20% lower than predicted. All it took was small changes to where they worked and how they ran their meetings.

It’s an example of empowering people as well as providing expertise. Exactly the kind of thing on the wishlist of today’s procurement departments.

Local pride

With our decades long heritage in Scotland, we thoroughly enjoyed our day mixing some amazing businesses and meeting the decision makers in government. 

One final tip we picked up is that being “local” can be a big advantage in the Scottish procurement process. Are you part of the community that will benefit from your work and are you giving something back in return? If you’re an Edinburgh business looking to deliver work for Edinburgh Council, make sure you emphasise your Edinburgh base. 

Above all, remember that public procurement is now more than price.


Talk to us about public sector procurement or try the carbon calculator for yourself and take the first step towards delivering sustainable digital public services.



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