Higher education is just one area where procurement teams are under pressure to save ©Getty Images
Higher education is just one area where procurement teams are under pressure to save ©Getty Images

Cost savings beat quality in UK public sector procurement

Financial constraints had the biggest possible influence on procurement decisions, said 55% of public procurement professionals surveyed for the 2019 Procurement Trends Report, produced by Fusion21.

Only a quarter of respondents said procurement is seen as a “highly important strategic function” and 26% balanced that by saying their role is “not considered to be even slightly strategic”. 

Nearly half – 47% – said cost savings were “extremely important”, with a lower 37% placing quality first. The emphasis public sector organisations put on buying goods and services was most frequently split at 40:60 for cost:quality. The range spanned 70:30 to 30:70, with only one procurement officer working in higher education telling report producer Fusion21 that his organisation uses a 20:80 ratio to ensure quality. 

Skills shortage

A third of procurement teams had recruited in the last year, and a third plan to recruit this year, with 43% citing difficulties when trying to find the right people. Nearly a third pointed to a lack of individuals with CIPS qualifications, and 43% said pay was deterring talent from applying.

Social value has become “more important” over the past 12 months, said 64% of respondents. Last year, 83% of respondents agreed the Public Services Social Value Act, which came into force in 2013, had been “influential”.

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