17 April 2024
Topics in this article
  • Government & Public Sector

By now, every public sector procurement function is likely to be aware that the 2023 Procurement Act is due to be implemented later in the year. Many will be starting to recognise the extent of effort that will be involved to introduce the new regulations smoothly, including training of commercial teams, evaluation of contracts, supplier communications, or reconsideration of in-flight procurement initiatives and pipeline.

There is a danger that 2024 will become ‘all about the regs’ whilst delivery, the day job, takes the second stage. Clear planning will be crucial. Here are five key steps to ensure that commercial teams continue to deliver in a year of unprecedented change.

1. Take a proportionate approach to preparing for the new regulations

There may be an inclination to ‘throw the kitchen sink at it.’ There’s no getting away from the extra effort that implementing the new regulations will require, but adopting a measured approach will be essential to minimize any impact on delivery. Make the most of Government Commercial Function (GCF) materials, prioritize the training of ‘must know’ team members over ‘should know’ team members, adopt a train-the-trainer approach, and plan for implementation as carefully as any other major initiative.

2. Understand the pipeline

A clear view of what’s coming down the track will be more important than ever. Map out contract expirations and assess the amount of effort that each will require. Work with client functions to identify any new requirements that will need sourcing or other commercial support during 2024. Having a clear view of the pipeline will support effective workforce planning, ensuring that skills and resources are in place at the right time and providing early visibility of when additional resources might be required.

3. Prioritise

Identify what is urgent and what is important. Less urgent and less important initiatives might have to wait. Be prepared to manage expectations and to make sensible decisions with affected stakeholders. Make conscious decisions about what will and what will not be done. This might not be the year for commercial functions to invest heavily in discretionary programs or ‘nice to have’ initiatives. A manageable workload, brilliantly executed, will deliver more than setting up to fail.

4. Integrate implementation of the new regulations into your wider plan for 2024

Treating the new regulations as an unavoidable disruption to BAU runs the risk of both failing to implement and failing to deliver effectively. Integrated planning will allow for resources to be flexed to accommodate peak BAU workload whilst supporting smooth implementation and ensuring that there does not become a battle for resources between the team accountable for delivering the implementation and the team responsible for BAU. A common governance approach can be put in place with the commercial leadership team aligned behind a shared plan, reviewing the same status reports, making consensus decisions and responding as a team to any unforeseeable events or course-corrections of the inevitable bumps along the road.

5. Bring the team with you

The year brings a twin threat to team morale, especially when scarce commercial resources are already under pressure. Change always brings a degree of uncertainty, and the introduction of the new regulations will be unsettling for some of those steeped in knowledge of existing rules and procedures. Concern that implementation will bring a thankless task of delivering BAU whilst having time being eaten into by an implementation program can lead to a background of undetectable and unhelpful water cooler conversations. Leadership teams will need to make a concerted effort to build positivity. Sharing the plans will help, demonstrating the rigour and thoughtfulness that has gone into balancing competing priorities. Advocates should be cultivated, and skeptics should be viewed as a means to tap into the broader ‘mood music.’ Communication, as in any change programme, will be key.
 
The year doesn’t have to be a year of disruption. It presents an opportunity for leaders to excel and for commercial teams to be proud of their ability to deliver. 

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