CCS should partner instead of replicate, says Tse. © Crown Copyright
CCS should partner instead of replicate, says Tse. © Crown Copyright

CCS looking to partner with firms like Ebay and Amazon

The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) is “on a journey to deliver digital solutions” from outsourced catalogues to contract management training. 

Speaking at the A Passion for Procurement Conference 2019 in London, organised by the Charity Sector Procurement Group (CSPG), Simon Tse, CEO at CCS, said that the government wants to partner with catalogue organisations to provide more efficient digital solutions. 

Tse said: “I want to get to the point where from a CCS perspective, we partner. In the past, we have built digital solutions, catalogue solutions – click and buy. But there are loads of organisations out there today where that's their core business.”

With £18bn going into commercial deals, the CCS aims to use spend more efficiently by looking at collaborations with companies such as Ebay, Amazon, or Screwfix, to provide indirect materials. 

Tse added: “Why do I need to replicate it? Let's partner with some people that provide it, so everyone can click and buy.”

Starting next year CCS will start offering such digital services, and while not all 77 different categories will be suitable for digital there are quite a few that are, said Tse.

He said: “We're on a trajectory in this organisation to double the amount of spend going through our commercial deals over a four-year period to up to $30bn.”

Tail-end users mostly “click and buy”, and a digital catalogue would cut the number of invoices and deliveries coming in for such indirect materials.

However, for middle ground spend materials CCS want to either procure offline or run a procurement from start to finish through an online system, said Tse.

He highlighted the importance of quality. “It cannot be a race to the bottom, we have to make certain that quality fits in there, and in some respects quality first. Get suppliers over the bar, and then go for the price.”

Tse referred to an initiative from the government's chief commercial officer Gareth Rhys Williams to introduce contract management training, which includes an online module. Events such as Carillion have shown that “one thing that government's most definitely not good at is managing contracts and we're doing something about that,” he said.

The journey to digital solutions has been ongoing since the former CEO of CCS, Malcolm Harrison, began the transformation before leaving to become group CEO at CIPS in 2018. Harrison hoped “digital procurement would be among the future priorities of the CCS”.

The CSPG conference, held in association with CCS, gathered buyers in the charity sector to share best practice in areas such as buyer performance, procurement strategy, contract management and talent acquisition and retention.

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