Hard stuff. But Crossrail's procurement is caring too ©Crossrail
Hard stuff. But Crossrail's procurement is caring too ©Crossrail

Lessons from award-winning procurement professionals

At a recent event, winners of 2017’s CIPS Supply Management Awards shared their winning stories. Some common themes stood out…


Working in close partnership with stakeholders and suppliers holds the key to success, several speakers said. At Heathrow Airport, the procurement team worked with 50 strategic suppliers to co-create a ‘Working Together Charter’, with doing the right thing and championing sustainability at its heart.

Procurement manager Neli Garbuzanova from the award-winning project by NHS Arden & GEM CSU and Nottinghamshire clinical commissioning groups said collaboration between multiple stakeholders was the reason why the project to redesign community healthcare was so successful, coordinating what was once a fragmented service.

“We could not have achieved our outcomes in isolation,” she said. “But that collaboration would never have been possible without robust governance and engagement.”

Release the power of your staff

At UK Shared Business Services (SBS), morale was at a nadir after a red rating from government auditors, said head of relationship management and transition Stephen Mamone. In its journey from red to green, UK SBS empowered staff to lead the charge. Employee-led Lunch and Learn sessions, for example, “tapped into the capability of people who had been hiding their light under a bushel”.

At Heathrow, staff acting as sustainability ambassadors have been critical to the success of their award-winning programme. “You can’t just put stuff into processes and expect people to pick it up: recruit ambassadors,” advised senior procurement manager Dianne Armstrong. The 12 ambassadors, all “passionate” about sustainability, are assigned to different work streams.

Define your value

For Conception Ribaud, head of procurement at MTR Crossrail and CIPS Young Procurement and Supply Professional of the Year 2017, adding value is about “carving your difference”. For her, that’s about responsible procurement, and putting the human impact before savings. “I always think: is this decision going to impact someone’s life?” she said. For example, is pushing for a much lower price worth it if it lowers workers’ salaries and therefore has a negative impact on communities?

For Tim Bullock, supply chain director at air navigation service provider NATS, and CIPS Procurement and Supply Professional of the Year 2017, value comes from true business alignment. It’s the things that drive the business that should be driving procurement conversations, rather than doing procurement for procurement’s sake. “You might be part of a procurement function, but more importantly you are part of a business,” he said.

At NATS, that means reducing focus on short-term savings and prioritising areas such as how to create more flight slots at major airports.
“If you can’t hold your own in conversations like that, you might as well not bother,” he said.

Enter this year’s awards at cipssmawards.com

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