Bank of England
WINNER – GO Procurement Leadership of the Year Award: Central Government & Healthcare Organisations, GO Awards National 2019/20
The Bank of England was recognised at the National GO Awards for their ‘Procurement 2020’ programme, a major overhaul of the Bank’s procurement strategy linked to their broader ‘Vision 2020’ strategy. Peter Quinn, Head of Procurement at the Bank, explains the scope and shape of the project, and how the Bank have been able to ensure the success of such a large-scale project.
Our aim was to modernise the procurement function and raise procurement standards across the Bank. Ultimately procurement at the Bank is all about achieving value for money and protecting the Bank against third party risks. We needed to modernise our procurement capability because the Bank’s dependency on suppliers is increasing, and managing supplier risk and value for money are key priorities for the Bank.
Some of the specific innovations of the project in terms of procurement include our new central team capability. We’ve recruited a new team with the right blend of hard and soft skills to drive the Bank’s procurement transformation. We’ve started to make use of systems and tools (4Tracker, Power BI, Helios and Proactis) to provide new procurement insights, metrics and dashboards to drive performance and raise standards. We developed a new risk triage tool and a new supplier code of practice to improve supplier segmentation, risk and quality management, and we’ve introduced three new Commercial Boards to improve commercial engagement, oversight and governance.
To strike a balance between recognising the good work the Bank was already doing in procurement and holding up the mirror to highlight where improvements needed to be made, we took good practice that we found in parts of the Bank and spread this to other areas. For example, our technology team were successfully operating a Commercial Board to improve their oversight of supplier management in this area. We replicated this idea, and the Bank now operates three Commercial Boards which provide oversight and scrutiny of the Bank’s entire third-party spending. Procurement 2020 started small as a concept without any associated budget. The project is now recognised as one of the Bank’s Central Services Division’s key projects. We had to start small, to build a business case for change and raise awareness and support for investment in procurement. Not having easy access to seed funding did present a problem, and we overcame this by aligning our objectives with other projects in the Bank who were able to provide some seed funding. Modernising the Bank’s procurement function meant working with a range of stakeholders internally and externally. We received a lot of support from the Bank’s union and the HR team to make the structural changes we needed.
Procurement awareness training is now mandatory for all procurement ‘approvers’ across the Bank. As part of this training we explain that ‘procurement’ at the Bank is more than simply the name of the central team. Rather, procurement is the cycle of planning, buying and managing activities that all budget holders and contract managers get involved with. Suppliers play a crucial role in helping the Bank deliver its mission and critical functions such as regulating City firms, printing bank notes and settling trillions of financial transactions each day. Our supplier partners, 4C & Associates, Proactis and Helios, have all provided fantastic support to the Bank’s procurement evolution. I want to recognise their contribution to our success. Procurement is to our suppliers what HR is to our staff. In the same way that the HR team help managers to get the best from our ‘people’ talent, the central procurement team help supplier and contract managers to get the best from the Bank’s supplier talent.
We applied for a GO Award to help recognise the good work everyone is doing. The team are very proud to have won an award. It’s a great feeling to be recognised amongst your peers right across central government and the NHS! The award ceremony itself was really good fun and a great team bonding experience for the Bank of England Procurement team. I would encourage others to tell their stories as the process is quite simple.