'Agile processes can make procurement better'

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
1 October 2018

A procurement troubleshooter has spoken of the benefits of agile processes because he is “fed up of people telling me how rubbish procurement is”.

David Kershaw, an agile procurement interim, has worked on numerous central government programmes including the Digital Marketplace and Verify, the ID assurance service. “That was the first ever public sector procurement that used agile delivery,” he told SM.

Kershaw said he used agile processes to make problematic programmes deliver and such processes should be celebrated. “I am fed up of people telling me how rubbish procurement is,” he said. “I am sick and tired of digital and tech people saying procurement is a blocker.

“I go into programmes that are suffering. Things are not working well and I utilise agile to make them deliver.”

Kershaw outlined how the structure of agile processes, which originated in Silicon Valley, could work in procurement.

Typically on a daily basis there are “stand-ups”, 15-minute meetings involving stakeholders such as internal customers, suppliers, legal, end users and the procurement team. “What are we doing today? What are the blockers?” said Kershaw.

Every fortnight there are “show and tells”, retrospective meetings where people present what has been achieved. These are also where “sprints”, short-term pieces of work, are set and appraised.

Overlaying this framework are different phases. First there is a discovery or “disco” phase, where research takes place, users are canvassed and ideas are examined. Next there is an “alpha” phase, where a prototype is deployed and tested, followed by a “go live”.

“The digital and tech world use agile as part of their project management methodology,” said Kershaw.

He said there were great benefits to involving suppliers and stakeholders on a daily basis with projects. “It promotes openness, team morale and learning,” he said.

“It’s about using agile processes, skills and ceremonies to make procurement better.”

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