Candidates approaching procurement recruitment agencies in search of procurement jobs have been given a valuable insight into the procurement function in Britain’s largest public sector organisation, the NHS.

In an interview with Supply Chain Digital magazine, Mick Corti, one of the first chiefs of a huge NHS shared procurement services, discusses the intricacies, challenges and benefits of such an ambitious integrated service.

Shared procurement, Corti concedes, is not especially well understood in the NHS, even though most large commercial organisations with different operating business have become rather more well-versed in yoking together procurement processes from different enterprises.

In the NHS, Corti says, it’s not enough to simply pull a cluster of legacy departments together and hope for the best. Cloud-based technology has been pivotal in helping professionals holding procurement jobs in different departments to develop common approaches to their practices, and to stick to them.

Even so, there are clear exceptions. Different trusts will have different requirements, which isn’t inherently problematic if they buy different things. The shared approach becomes crucial when the same things are purchased. This system is designed to achieve the best value by unifying purchases from the same suppliers, instead of the scattergun approach of using different brands which sell the same things at different prices.

Savings, however, are but one of the benefits of a shared service. Delivery is also central, and again technology has helped. In the last 12 months, Corti and his team have assembled a common P2P front end, a contract registry, a helpdesk portal and a benefits reporting platforms – all of which were hitherto fragmented into the separate trusts and replicated in each.

On the new Future Operating Model (FOM) for NHS Procurement, Corti said: “I think once implemented, the FOM will only enhance this further. The transactional admin that procurement teams undertake, on price variations and competing frameworks, should be further reduced, which in turn should again allow for procurement teams to spend more time on value-adding activities.”

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