Austerity. Resourcing issues. Temporary staff. New service models. Mixed economies of public bodies and private providers.
Whichever way one looks at it, procurement teams face ever-moving goalposts when recruiting short-term or specialist personnel – or indeed the type of organisation they are recruiting them to, as our public services are rapidly reshaped.
But there is optimism in the area of temporary staffing procurement, despite such a volatile market, because leading procurement organisations are now giving public buying teams – whether in new, remodelled or shared service bodies – more practical and less risky ways to deal with temporary recruitment needs.
How so? For many years, councils, schools, central government, police, and other public sector bodies, under pressure or facing cuts, tended to accept the recruitment options that national and local agencies gave them. Speed and expediency was everything.
Now, public organisations, driven to collaborate or pool resources, need smarter recruitment solutions and more open relationships with suppliers and their supply chains. The procurement may be temporary but the underlying need is permanent.
In recent years, we’ve seen expert public procurement consortia working dynamically with public bodies, suppliers and their supply chains alike, to design and deliver more sophisticated temporary staffing procurement where all sides benefit.
These new agreements stand out for three reasons. First, they were evolved in the new reality of in-house, outsourced and managed service models: there are agreed prices and specifications whatever the buyer’s need – and clearer commercial outcomes for the recruitment agencies and managed service providers (MSPs) that fulfil them.
Second, these frameworks reduce the administrative legwork for public procurement teams and lines of business, reducing the time absorbed by supplier competitions and EU compliance.
Third, and most important of all, these frameworks deliver best value and recruitment savings right across public bodies’ plethora of needs, enabling the public pound to go further.
Over the last four years, ESPO’s MSTAR frameworks – the original MSTAR agreement awarded in 2011 and MSTAR2 launched in 2015 – have transformed buyers’ options, from councils to the emergency services. The agreements passed the £1bn mark in annual spend in the last 12 months and delivered £140m in savings UK-wide.
Frameworks such as MSTAR have strengthened the hand of buyers dealing with recruitment service providers that previously had greater market insights and room to manoeuvre. For example, a public buyer with national level staffing needs can now choose from an MSP’s managed supply chain, the provider’s own supplier pool and a hybrid ‘best of all worlds’ for their sourcing strategy – all with known pricing. It’s a world away from the unscientific and short-term recruitment of the past.
This new thinking is helping public bodies deal with those ever-shifting staffing goalposts and leverage their buying power – and deliver better service outcomes for the taxpayer.
☛ David Maylin is category manager at ESPO