Reflecting on the impact of our Procurement Advisory Service

Since 2016, the Scottish Procurement Alliance (SPA) have supported the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) to deliver a procurement advisory service for Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) across Scotland.

In the past year alone almost 350 people have attended sessions through the Procurement Advisory Service with over 30 different housing associations represented.

During its lifespan to date the service has had interaction with 90% of RSLs throughout Scotland and well over 1,000 individuals. Dougie Gold, Procurement Advisor for the Procurement Advisory Service, elaborates on the scope and positive impact of the service.

Why was the Procurement Advisory Service set up?

Before the regulations came into force, SPA recognised the need for procurement advice and support throughout the sector.

By partnering with the SFHA, they ensured that all Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) throughout Scotland would gain access — if they wished — to the Procurement Advisory Service. SPA provided the financial backing so that SFHA partners would get the service free of charge.

From the outset, the Procurement Advisory Service was borne through a collaborative and open process. The main aim was to help RSLs enhance their skills by providing support and training in whichever way was most beneficial.

After these initial discussions between myself, SPA and Dianne Cooper from the SFHA, the Procurement Advisory Service officially launched at the start of 2016 with an initial program running for 12 months.

In this first phase, we held roadshows throughout the country from the Borders to Inverness and many places in-between. The roadshows were to raise awareness of the new regulations and what they meant for RSLs.

In addition to this, the Procurement Advisory Service provided desktop, email and in person support, as well as, training awareness and in-house training sessions.

How was the Procurement Advisory Service received?

Extremely well! Initial feedback from service users was they loved: the service, the information provided and that they had all this resource for free.

From 2017, we extended the program after the first 12 months due to the volume of success we had with it.

How has the Procurement Advisory Service developed since its inception?

I’m happy to say that the Procurement Advisory Service has grown through the valuable feedback we have received from its users. The service was designed for RSLs so listening to their needs and requirements was essential from the outset.

After the first 12 months we developed a second phase as the awareness of the regulations had been demonstrated and the service needed to provide more in depth advice.

Phase two was a development of formal training in presentation format that was hosted by SPA, housing associations and also delivered in house for larger groups.

What are the future plans for the Procurement Advisory Service?

The Procurement Advisory Service is moving towards further training including price quality assessments, ESPD electronically. The service is constantly evolving based on users’ feedback and needs.

A recent development is to assist RSLs with PCIPS (Procurement Improvement Commercial Programme) process, review and improvements that can be made. The service is constantly evolving to demand and we are currently looking at developing interactive training on particular aspects.

If anyone has their own bespoke requirements, the service can arrange a program at cost for their organisation. In addition to new training, we will continue to provide refresher sessions for new staff to RSLs every few months as we recognise that they may be new to the sector and need assistance.

WHAT SFHA SAY

"Public Procurement reform has been both a challenge and an opportunity for our members. While housing associations invest significantly in their local communities, many are relatively small and do not employ procurement specialists"

Sally Thomas - Chief Executive of SFHA