The Crown Commercial Service is collaborating with public buying organisations (PBOs) to reach more public sector customers, its senior lead for partnership has said.
The government’s centralised procurement service is looking to collaborate with local PBOs to offer their frameworks to smaller buyers, including schools and local GP surgeries.
Lisa Stubbs, senior lead for partnership at CCS, said: “Although we cannot service every tiny school, every tiny GP service with the level of care and attention that they need, the other PBOs are generally very good at this because of their excellent account management structures.
“They’re really able to understand what that customer’s exact needs are in a way that perhaps we never could.”
Speaking at the Local Government Procurement Expo earlier this week, Stubbs said that although one of CCS’s main focuses is to consolidate joint spend, collaboration was not simply about reducing duplicated efforts. “It sometimes means making things more available.”
There are some common goods and services that must be bought locally, Stubbs said, for example food and social care. But, “when it comes to high commodity items such as phones, there really are benefits to volume aggregation”.
CCS currently oversees £12bn of spend a year, but Stubbs said more could be done if more customers could be encouraged to join.
“We still find many stories. In particular last week I was speaking to a housing association PBO,” said Stubbs. This organisation supplied bricks, cement and other building products but didn't have a mobile phone offering. “Their customer base doesn’t know to come to CCS so traditionally they go to the high street. The deal for the taxpayer? Not that great,” she said.
An ongoing collaboration Stubbs cited was an insurance framework CCS was working on with the Yorkshire Purchasing Organisation, the Eastern Shires Purchasing Organisation and the North East Procurement Organisation. “Our relationship is really notable because the specialism is not always in CCS. In fact in housing it sits with one of our partners, and we use their specialist knowledge to a greater good,” she said.
“We benefit from the partner’s intimacy with the customer.”
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