Sunday, December 10, 2006

Book of the year? The NAO on procurement in the FE sector?

At this time of the year the papers are full of articles surveying the literary output of the year. No one will listing any National Audit Office reports as among the best reads of 2006.

Sadly NAO reports are generally ignored - often overlooked by the people who can get most value out of them. I fear that the NAO's review of procurement in Further Education colleges published in October will fall into this category.

Each year the 384 English FE colleges in England spend £1.6 billion on goods and services from books and stationery to examination fees and energy bills. The NAO found that many colleges need to improve their processes substantially with big savings being generated.

The report recommended that colleges should:

- Raise the priority of improvements to procurement.

- Develop a professional approach to procurement.

- Review their procurement data and how it can be better analysed to provide useful management information.

- Assess their existing mix of procurement methods against good practice benchmarks.

- Improve their supplier management.

- Collaborate with other organisations and through consortia where they can offer procurement expertise, reduced transaction costs and better quality and/or price.

Of course, organisations in other sectors can also learn from this kind of thinking about buying.

While some organisations may not be big enough to have their own procurement specialists they can still buy in or share the expertise that is available.

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