How can procurement play its part in helping MMC thrive in the UK infrastructure market

Nigel McKay

Industry Advisor, Buildoffsite

I was once advised by a manager that my role as a procurement manager was to “say no”. Luckily, I think for my career, I decided against that piece of advice. I was always of the opinion that my role was to help my clients and customers to get the most successful result from any procurement exercise. I was trained that the “5 Rights of Procurement” to get the Right Supplier, with the Right Price, to Deliver the Right Scope at the Right Place and the Right Time, was the most important objective of a procurement manager.  Latterly, I was questioned by a Head of Procurement at a Government department, why I was insisting on the Negotiated Route to market, when they said and I quote, “I can foresee no situation where you would ever have a circumstance to negotiate with any supply chain”.

If this is the prevailing thoughts in the industry where the mantra (quite rightly so) is to achieve a “Value for Money” then we need to better understand how we can achieve this objective whilst still complying with all the regulatory compliance. To lock tools such as a good “Win- Win” negotiation out of our armoury just leads to poor procurement decisions. To add to the current minefield and to open up the debate further as to “why offsite manufacture and modern methods of construction offer more benefits”, then our profession needs to rid itself of the label “Killed by Procurement” and to revert to basics, and demonstrate that at the end of the procurement process that we have answered the “5 Rights” question.

This current trend to reduce everything into a set of frameworks, seems to have one objective only and that is to neutralise the procurement process so that no one loses! I once saw an announcement after a particular long and convoluted procurement process that 89 companies had successfully qualified through the event. It doesn’t seem logical to me as a procurement professional that at the end of the procurement event, you are no nearer to getting to a solution where the “5 Rights” can even be considered.

Buildoffsite are working with our member organisations to try and free ourselves of the myths that have built up over time and provide solutions where we can open up innovation and uncover the companies who have the right skills and solutions required to contribute to the success of the organisations who look to procure from them. These are trying times, but it seems to me that the skills that were successful in the past have been lost over time and it is our duty as procurement professionals to make sure that we demonstrate how these skills and tools still have a major part to play in our industry.

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