29 March 2001 | Liam O'Brien
Purchasing managers may not be getting the best contract and trading advice from trade associations, according to a new report.
The Business of Representation, sponsored by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Trade Association Forum, claims there are too many under-resourced and under-representative trade associations in the UK. As a result, contract advice from smaller bodies was often inferior, it said.
The report highlights the many smaller organisations in the UK such as the Adhesive Tape Manufacturers' Association and the British Market Research Association, both of which have fewer than two staff.
"You are not going to get the best advice on codes of conduct or contract terms from a small association that hasn't got the resources," said Alastair Macdonald, the report's author. "Instead of up-to-the-minute advice, you'll be told 'give me a couple of days and I will get back to you'."
The report also claims that smaller associations will fail to lobby effectively. Macdonald estimates that the building industry alone has more than 100 associations, meaning that many would not be successful advocates.
"Being effective in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff or Brussels is expensive. It is inevitable that it is more difficult for smaller organisations to be as influential as they need to be," he said.
Ron Hardwick, head of purchasing at City of Edinburgh Council and a member of CIPS's contracts management group, agreed with the report's main findings.
"It is hard to see how many fragmented associations could advise their members properly on the complexities of contractual relationships, best value in local government, social and environmental purchasing and especially e-procurement development," he said.