Imperial College, London © View Pictures/Universal Images Group/Getty Images
Imperial College, London © View Pictures/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

Collaborating in a competitive environment

With the profession encountering uncertainty on a global scale, more companies are considering collaborative working relationships to ensure business continuity.

The Higher Education (HE) sector has benefitted from collaboration for some years, with a focus on non-cash value. Marion Hutchins, head of marketing communications for the Southern Universities Purchasing Consortium, on behalf of UK Universities Purchasing Consortia, said: “Collaboration has come a long way! In fact, the UK is often seen as a beacon of best practice for HE sectors in countries such as Canada, Australia and South Africa.”

Universities vie for home-grown and international students but must also jointly deliver value in accordance with Government obligations, which is partly achieved through the UKUPC – eight consortia that support procurement activities.

Since its founding, UKUPC has developed national procurement strategies across areas such as ICT, estates and facilities management, labs, academic services and professional services, catering and energy. Through working groups, responsible procurement programmes, systems and communications, the UK HE sector has seen “many positive results” that cover virtually all commodity areas with a common need.

Why should I collaborate?

With this approach, UK universities achieved £87.3m in cashable savings, and a further £79.1m non-cashable from shared processes that saved time, cost and energy. It has also brought wider value by developing a culture of knowledge and opportunity sharing.

“Collaboration and value need to be seen in different terms these days,” Hutchins says, as while some will focus on costs and optimisation and less on wider benefits, “collaboration delivers value that goes far beyond cost optimisation”.

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