Scotland Excel has offered a range of services designed to help local authorities improve their procurement performance since 2009, when the introduction of annual Procurement Capability Assessments (PCAs) presented an opportunity for public sector organisations to benchmark their performance and develop plans for improvement.
In the local government sector, there was a real willingness to work together to make improvements. Scotland Excel developed a programme to facilitate this based on three phases – assessment, analysis and action – with priorities for the next phase agreed with councils at an annual event. These priorities informed a rolling programme of workshops, best practice initiatives and consultancy services delivered by Scotland Excel to lead and support change.
Over the five years in which PCAs were held, average sector scores for local authorities increased from 22% to 62%. In 2015, a new national assessment took was introduced to capitalise on the progress made by local authorities and other public sector organisations.
The Procurement and Commercial Improvement Programme (PCIP) is being rolled out across the public sector during 2016-2017. Scotland Excel played a key role in the development of the new PCIP assessment to ensure it met the needs of the sector.
The PCIP has similar aims to the PCA, but there is a new emphasis on policies and procedures which drive the procurement and commercial performance of the whole organisation and the results they deliver. During 2015, Scotland Excel implemented a programme of consultation, regional workshops and mock assessments to help councils prepare for the new assessment.
The PCIP comprises four sections - Leadership and Governance, Development and Tender, Contract and Purchasing Processes - with a total of 24 questions, seven of which are pre-assessed. A number of new areas are covered by the assessment, including fraud prevention and commercial acumen. Scotland Excel began undertaking PCIP assessments for local authorities in May 2016, and the cycle will continue until November.
With a new assessment tool in place, Scotland Excel is taking the opportunity to revitalise the support we provide to councils in this area. Procurement teams across the sector have made real progress in raising their profile within their local authorities and there is now an appetite to take the next step in transforming their procurement capability.
To ensure that we can target the individual needs of local authorities, Scotland Excel will provide three days consultancy for every council. This could range from project management or leading change programmes, to in-depth data analysis or exploration of key areas such as contract and supplier management.
As in previous years, we will also offer additional chargeable consultancy services for councils requiring more extensive support. Successful projects have already been delivered for Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Argyll & Bute, East Dunbartonshire and Highland Councils. Working with Scotland Excel retains the intellectual property of outputs within the sector, and spend can be reinvested to provide greater value for our members.
Following the PCIP assessments, Scotland Excel will provide analysis of the results to establish the key areas for development across the sector. This will ensure that we can share best practice and, in collaboration with our members, create a robust and effective collaborative improvement programme that will benefit the whole procurement community.