DFID aiming to be ‘commercially savvy and capable’ to deliver procurement efficiently

Gurjit Degun
14 July 2014

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14 July 2014 | Gurjit Degun

The Department for International Development (DFID) is focusing on improving contract management and collaboration with suppliers as part of developing a commercial strategy within procurement.

DFID’s head of procurement and commercial Nick Ford explained that over the past 18 months, there has been a move to improve DFID’s work on designing and planning programmes, minimising the time spent on procurement.

“[The early design stage is] where a lot of the good commercial practice and good commercial decisions are made which will then set a course for the rest of that programme lifecycle,” said Ford, who was speaking at the department’s second annual supplier conference in London last week.

He said DFID is looking at how it will engage delivery partners in the early design stage, improve the way it plans, and the way it understands programmes. “[We will also] engage with people who are going to deliver the programmes, as well as giving more upfront visibility through the pipeline so everyone in the supply chain can plan and prepare for programmes,” said Ford.

He added: “Obviously we can’t forget that it’s pretty fundamental that we drive efficiency improvements in the way we do procurement and we will continue to drive that, but we really want to minimise the time spent in that area. The real barrier is the upstream and the downstream.”

After the procurement stage, Ford said he wants to ensure DFID delivers what it sets out to. He said the department has taken an “incremental” step to “start to think more about contract management and programme management”.

“That is very much still a procurement-type strategy,” Ford said. “What DFID really needs to do is broaden that, moving into a much more commercial savvy and a commercially capable organisation. We’ll continue to try and look at how we deliver procurement effectively and efficiently. We need to be experts in procurement, at this moment we’re not and we have a long way to go to be experts.

“This longer-term vision really needs DFID to have the right capability and the right capacity. [It is] fundamental to deliver the programmes that we need to deliver, we will not maximise the development impact, we will not maximise the UK taxpayer’s funds without us working more collaboratively, and DFID and yourself working together.”

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