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September 2011 | Angeline Albert
should reduce choice to gain more control over spend, the buying team at DurhamUniversity advises.
to SM, Laura Watson, deputy head of
procurement at the university, said standardising products so stakeholder
“colleges no longer have as wide a choice”, has cut the number of food
suppliers from more than 60 to 15 since 2004.
down the number of vendors means the number of deliveries to sites has
decreased and the amount of packaging waste produced has been cut – resulting
in both financial and environmental benefits.
are categorised three ways: social, environmental and economic. They are
recorded on a monthly basis by all staff,” said Watson. “[Purchasers] are
not given savings targets but are expected to review where social or environmental
savings can be made.”
procurement function, which spends around £90 million a year annually and consists
of 19 people, has been transformed since 2004 when unqualified staff across the
university were carrying out buying and too many suppliers were used. Now, the
team’s members are either qualified purchasers or are studying to gain
procurement qualifications. This includes staff from other departments who now
work in the team.
well as reducing the number of different meat cuts purchased to feed staff and providing
training for chefs to make greater use of fewer cuts, chefs also now use
standard menu templates and order items via a source-to-pay system.
‘acquire’ software, provided by WaxDigital, enables staff to search for goods and services
electronically, exchange invoices and conduct tenders and electronic auctions.
Currently being piloted by some departments, acquire is expected to be rolled
out across the whole organisation.
also explained that “proactive, rather than reactive [estates] maintenance”,
had been introduced, where equipment is maintained before breakdowns to gain
long-term savings. She also said the purchasing team was engaging early with
academics receiving grants to improve the purchase of scientific equipment.