UK SBS 'put pride back into procurement'

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
8 February 2018

UK Shared Business Services (SBS) has described how it “put the pride back into the procurement function” with a transformation sparked by a red audit rating.

Stephen Mamone, head of relationship management & transition at SBS, said in 2014 the organisation was in a “very dark place”.

Speaking at a CIPS Best in Procurement event, Mamone said: “It was at its lowest ebb. Performance was not great. We were about £6m in the red.”

SBS, which provides business services to public sector bodies including the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, research councils and Innovate UK, went through a change programme that saw the audit rating improve to yellow in 2015 and green in 2016.

The work included reducing the procurement headcount by 30%, from 140 people to 90, and “whittling down” 57 initiatives to 13.

“We had to fly the plane while fixing it,” said Mamone.

Mamone said retaining talent “was a challenge for us” and procurement collaborated with HR to overhaul their approach. “Lunch and learn” sessions were established, with people giving talks on different subjects, rewards were introduced, including an extra day of leave and shopping vouchers, and there is CIPS training. A partnership with the University of South Wales brought in student placements.

The work also generated savings of £67.7m on a spend of £850m.

Mamone said such a transformation required “dynamic leadership” and “having buy-in from the senior management team”. “It’s about personal responsibility from staff, getting them engaged and enthused,” he said.

The overhaul also propelled SBS to victory in the SM Awards 2017, where it picked up Best People Development Initiative. The 2018 awards are now open for entries.

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