Contractors repairing the damage to Christchurch's buildings after the 2011 earthquake (Press Association images)
Contractors repairing the damage to Christchurch's buildings after the 2011 earthquake (Press Association images)

Christchurch procurement transformation to save NZ$40m

Christchurch City Council has launched a dramatic, three-year cultural transformation to produce more efficient, cost-effective services for its citizens.

Refinement of how procurement activities are undertaken across the organisation is playing a big part in this transformation, which aims to save NZD$40m (£19m) over the three-year programme, which began in January 2015.

Speaking at the CIPS New Zealand Conference last week, Anne Columbus, general manager corporate services at the authority, said the drive entitled 'Great For Christchurch' is geared towards securing “better people, processes and technological efficiencies”.

The council's organisational vision is to create a place where people want to be – a great place to work, live and play.

“Prior to the 2011 earthquake, Christchurch City Council was in a fairly good asset and financial position. However, the 10-year $1.3bn budgetary gap resulting from the earthquakes, along with decreasing residential satisfaction and staff engagement, demonstrated the organisation needed to change its operating model to drive efficiencies in back-office function and procurement activities,” she explained.

This required a change in how the council thought about money; a cultural shift from “our budget”, to one of “spending money provided by the ratepayer”.

According to Columbus, the biggest challenge was to get buy-in. The Council has 3,000 staff that had to understand the need for change and to see the bigger picture. “This was about the community and a change in attitude towards spending,” she said.

“It was the small things that mattered, such as questioning the necessity for a range of specialist herbal teas in the staffroom at ratepayers’ expense, or organising a stationery amnesty, clearing drawers of unused pens and other related goods accumulated over years, or encouraging printing in black and white instead of colour."

Columbus added: “The results are creating new values and an awareness of spending ratepayers’ money. We now focus on the people we serve."

The council's procurement programme has focused on contract re-negotiation, managing contractor resources, setting up a centre of excellence for supplier relationship management/contract management, ultimately encouraging better behaviour around discretionary spend and enabling better analytics for contracts.

“Procurement savings in the first 12 months are around $5.3m – double what we originally targeted. We’re aiming to save $40m over three years just in procurement initiatives and we’re very happy with how this is tracking,” Columbus said.

“We are demonstrating value for money for our communities, and innovative ways for delivering more for less.”

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