People & Skills
Excellence in Public Procurement Awards – a Great Way to Share Innovation and Success

Each year the UK public sector celebrates achievements in public procurement through the GO Awards (Government Opportunities Excellence in Public Procurement Awards). The awards have been running for 15 years now and have become a benchmark by which innovation, commissioning, public service delivery and progress are measured.

Like the European Public Sector Award (EPSA) and all other local initiatives around Europe, the GO Awards are a great way for organisations to get recognition for their achievements and raise awareness of success in public procurement across the whole public sector. It’s important that those organisations with a story to tell have a channel to share it. With more than 100 finalists and 12 winners out of the hundreds of entries, it’s quite obvious that there are a lot of innovation and unique initiatives going on in the world of public procurement – and showcasing them means we can all learn from and enjoy them.

Our Managing Editor, Peter Smith, who has 30 years’ experience as a procurement director and consultant, ex-CIPS President and senior procurement adviser to key UK Government bodies, was one of the award judges. He was witness to the extremely high standard of entries. So, over on our UK site, we decided to pick out a handful of entries that we thought would be of interest to our readers – regardless of whether they won the award. We’d like to share with our European public sector readers some of those initiatives – we hope you enjoy reading about them.  And here’s a great video of the awards night celebration.

At the event, we met up with the people involved in crafting the award submission, and we asked them each why they thought what they had done deserved the award, and what they would like to share with other public procurement practitioners. Here’s a snippet from them, but you can read more by clicking the link.

Procurement at the University of Huddersfield — An Inspiring Customer Excellence Case Study

The procurement team from the relatively young University of Huddersfield have succeeded in balancing value for money with customer service. As they said, they are thinking about the customer’s needs and how as a team and as individuals they can improve their service. They have created a customer steering group, with representation from stakeholders across the University, who monitor continuing performance, offer support and guidance to procurement and review progress against the assessment performed by the external examiners. The team publishes its annual performance report, procurement strategy and action plan online, so both customers and suppliers can monitor their targets and outcomes.

What we liked about this case study, within the Procurement Team of the Year award category, was the way in which a University’s small procurement team achieved successf through aligning itself very deliberately with the wider goals of the organisation, and the needs of the stakeholders.

Communitas Clinics – Award-Winning Customer Service Case Study

Communitas Clinics delivers four NHS community, patient-led clinical services to the populations of Croydon, Havering, Greenwich and Bexley. Its Intermediate Community Dermatology Service (ICDS) provides care for people with dermatological conditions which do not require the skills of secondary care using a ‘see, treat and discharge’ model. The introduction of the service has meant patients can be diagnosed and treated, with one-stop minor surgery operations where needed, without enduring long waiting lists or taking up GP or hospital time.

In the Health and Social award section, Communitas Clinics is a supply-side story of a team who won the contracts and worked very closely with commissioners and NHS bodies to establish intermediary healthcare in the community precisely where and when the patients needed it, even up against initial strong stakeholder resistance.

The Thomas Coram Foundation – A Highly Commended Health Service Case Study

One of the oldest children’s charities in the world, Coram started to work with Kent County Council giving advice on adoption services, based on their long experience in that area, but this became something much more extensive. Coram staff starting working alongside Kent staff within the team itself to deliver the adoption service — the first arrangement of its kind in the country. They used a problem-solving approach which places the child at the heart of everything they do, so “operational work informs strategy development.”

What made a huge difference to the success of the project was the full cooperation they received from the head of service and other staff and the strategic approach they developed of using performance management as a starting place and data analysis to help make the right, evidence-backed decisions.

There will be more examples from these innovation stories tomorrow.