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Fusion21’s Procurement Trends Report reveals greater scrutiny, and more appreciation, for housing’s procurement teams

Sarah Rothwell Blog: Sarah Rothwell

It has been a challenging couple of years for everyone in housing. Here at Fusion21, we thought the Chartered Institute of Housing’s annual event Housing 2018  would be the ideal opportunity to take a breath, and reflect on the key topics occupying the minds of our members.

So, we conducted our own research in April and May involving 80 procurement professionals, whose organisations collectively own and manage more than one million homes. The resulting Fusion21 Procurement Trends Report, which was launched to our members at the conference in Manchester, reveals that social landlords up and down the country are increasingly acknowledging the strategic value of their procurement teams.

More than two thirds (67%) of the procurement professionals who took part in our research said their organisations viewed their roles as strategic. Procurement teams are at the forefront of achieving value for money wherever possible. They must help enable their organisations to push ahead with plans to deliver much-needed new homes, despite receiving less rental income as a result of the 1%, four-year rent cuts.

However, achieving value for money is not as simple as making cost savings. And in the wake of the horrific Grenfell Tower fire, the work of procurement teams, particularly around compliance, has been the focus of renewed scrutiny. Our research confirms this.

More than half (51%) of those who responded to our survey said the tragedy last June has led to their organisation placing greater emphasis on quality when making procurement decisions. Meanwhile, three-quarters (75%) stated that compliance is “extremely important” when achieving value for money.

At Fusion21, we had already noticed a shift in the emphasis our members place on costs and quality when procuring goods and services, and we’ve have been responding to this.

Earlier this year, for example, we launched our new Fire Safety offer – our first dynamic purchasing system (DPS). Appointment to this DPS is based entirely on suppliers fulfilling a rigorous quality criteria assessment.

More than a quarter (28%) of the procurement professionals who took part in our research turn to organisations like ours in order to achieve the fine balance that is value for money.

A similar proportion (26%) do so in order to make procurement more efficient; and 21% to ensure compliance. More than half (57%) outsource in order to access technical expertise that do not exist in-house.

We’ll now be using the findings in our Procurement Trends Survey to further shape our procurement frameworks. We’ll be helping housing’s procurement professionals to fulfil the increasingly valued role they play in enabling their organisations – and the sector as a whole – to achieve their strategic aims.