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Our Procurement Trends Report Reveals Procurement Professionals Under Pressure to Procure at Lowest Price

Sarah Rothwell Blog: Sarah Rothwell

Today, Fusion21 published its second annual Procurement Trends Report, providing us with another opportunity to reflect on the key topics occupying the minds of our members working across UK public procurement.

Our research took place in April and May and involved exactly 100 public procurement professionals, representing 92 organisations in the housing, local authority, education, blue light and health sectors.

The results highlight the experiences our members have in common, particularly in relation to the way financial constraints are currently impacting on their purchasing decisions – more than half (59%) stated that they feel under pressure to procure at the lowest price, at least some of the time. While 39% said quality was an 'extremely important' consideration during procurement activity, 47% identified cost savings as being the most significant.

Survey respondents also shared that when it comes to prioritising where money is spent on property assets, budget is predominantly being focused on building compliance and safety works.  

Compliance with procurement regulations, however, remains the most significant consideration during procurement exercises and is now a given for the public procurement professionals we work with, with almost three quarters (72%) of procurement professionals saying that it is of utmost importance.

Our members are also increasingly turning their attentions to social value delivery, with almost two thirds (64%) said it has become a more important part of their work over the last 12 months. When then asked to identify the social value outcomes they prioritise and deliver through their procurement activity, skills and employment came out top for 39%.

The individual case studies featured in this year's Procurement Trends Report outline how it is possible to achieve high quality, despite having less money available. Our respondents outlined how their work with suppliers and other partners often begins far in advance of a procurement exercise; and can ultimately lead to long-term positive outcomes and a reduction in overall cost, as well as clearly defined social value contributions.

However, this type of approach requires skills and expertise – as well as strategic influence – and 43% of the public procurement professionals who participated in our research say they have faced, or are expecting to face, difficulties when trying to recruit talented individuals to their teams.

This year, like last year, more than half (53%) of research participants outsourced procurement activity, with around half doing so in order to access technical support and 41% to access procurement expertise.

Fusion21 provides such support and expertise to 540 public sector members, and, to-date, we have delivered £197 million savings through our procurement services.

The results of this year's Procurement Trends Survey have confirmed that, whatever type of organisation they work for, public procurement professionals are dealing with the same challenges.

Once again, we'll be using the research findings to further understand the pressures public procurement professionals are against and gain insights into their future aspirations - whilst also helping us to further shape the procurement services we offer to Fusion21 members.

We’ll also continue to encourage our members to network and share ideas. Through learning from one another, we will be able to better provide procurement services that make a real impact - generating efficiencies and delivering social value.