13 March 2014 | Kelly Furniss
Understanding the boundaries that the public sector operates in is imperative for Kelly Furniss whose role is to bridge the gap between procurement and NHS needs.
Describe your relationship with procurement?
Strategic and key. I am in a unique position where I can focus on the benefits my extensive procurement experience brings to the role. I understand the boundaries public sector buyers operate in and can ensure our customer requirements are achievable. This ensures customer expectations are not only realistic, but deliverable. I know how challenging and crucial it can be to make the right choices and I am able to provide support not only to procurement colleagues but to our customers too. My position allows me to gain key insight into customer requirements which isn’t something procurement or sales always have the capacity to do. I am able to bridge the gap between procurement and our customers’ needs through providing clarity and support on EU procurement regulations.
Has your view of procurement changed in recent years?
I am pleased it is taking its rightful place. It is important businesses recognise that it is a core function. Getting procurement right can deliver key cost savings which can make a difference to our customers by adding value and releasing funding that
can be reinvested into frontline patient care.
Does procurement add value to your function?
Procurement adds value across the board with everything. It allows us to meet the savings targets of trusts and to better support our customers. 2013 was a very tough year for the NHS but by working with organisations such as ours, trusts can claw back savings. Collaboration with procurement is integral to my role, and having this direct contact enables me to respond quickly to customer needs. Our specialist procurement teams are always on hand to supply reliable information which has an instant benefit for our customers as they know they are getting exactly what they need.
Can you quantify the value of procurement?
It is integral to passing cost savings to the NHS.
Is working with procurement easy enough?
It’s about navigating the complex public sector regulations we adhere to, and this is where my role fits in as I ensure procurement strategies are closely aligned with our customers’ needs. Our procurement teams have specialist knowledge and we have committed to ensuring that 80 per cent of our procurement team have achieved CIPS qualification or are working towards it.
How important is the client working relationship?
Time with your customers is invaluable. Ensure you understand customer requirements and how products are used. Stakeholder input is important and forward proactive planning is key.
What is the worst thing procurement can say?
Price increases. But our procurement team are spending time with suppliers to work on long-term plans to mitigate price rises.
What is the best thing procurement can say?
Savings and innovation. Any cost reduction I can pass on will make a difference to frontline services within the NHS. Through our innovation scorecard we can support suppliers in bringing new technologies to market that can improve efficiency in patient care.
☛ Kelly Furniss is stakeholder engagement manager (procurement services) at NHS Supply Chain