The University of Leicester's approach to procurement is undergoing a significant transformation as the function transforms from a purchasing office into a procurement unit.
James Trotter, head of procurement, told SM the university realised it needed to upgrade procurement so it was more strategic with integrated decision-making and was better able to achieve value for money.
He said the changes follow an independent assessment of its organisation against the HE sector’s Procurement Maturity Assessment in 2013, which revealed it had room for improvement. Where previously the institution had contracts officers who reacted to business requirements and ensured tendering exercises were compliant, category management will be fundamental to its 2014-2017 procurement strategy.
The first phase of transforming procurement, which began this autumn, has been the appointment of category managers.
The three-strong team has responsibility for a number of categories. Ami Toone is the lead on IT, telecoms, AV, library and miscellaneous; Lucy Elms is responsible for estates, furniture, catering, domestic and postal services; and Anthony Midgley oversees the laboratory and medical, agriculture, veterinary and horticulture, professional services, space research, travel and accommodation and office supplies.
They will be tasked with engaging with stakeholders and offering advice at the first stages of developing a business case. While they will manage all tendering activity for contracts above a certain value, they will also support and advise on lower value procurement and contract management activity.
Trotter added: “In ensuring the university gets value for money from its procurement and contract management activity, the unit and its category managers will follow a risk-based approach in ensuring procurement exercises take proportionate account of the university’s broader considerations such as business continuity, information security and sustainability factors.”
The university’s procurement strategy, which will be worked on in the next 12 to 18 months, is now aligned with the organisation’s wider aims to reduce carbon emissions, create internships for students and assist with the grant application process.