VfM and Procurement Challenges

4 Apr 2019 | by Scott Sivier

Never has there been a more important time for SBMs to ensure they are achieving Value for Money (VfM) for their schools. Purchasing and compliance demands are ever increasing, the process can take a lot of time to meet legislative requirements and also ensure probity of public money.

 My recent blog reflected on a time sensitive world that we all operate and live in, the same points can be raised when SBMs are procuring services, resources and works for their schools. It can be a long and drawn out process, but it also essential to provide the best resources and supplies to provide high quality teaching and learning environments for our children. Even more so when schools have funds to spend on building projects and developments, just like money being well spent on home renovations, checks and research are vital to get the best service and product. Reliance on external contractors requires a thorough vetting process. I take the approach of, would I be happy on the funds I am spending and the services I am acquiring for my children’s schools, if it is not good enough for my children then it is not good enough for my school.

 My view has always been - not always the cheapest but rather the best value quote: you get what you pay for. It should never be seen as a gamble, SBMs are the gate keepers of public funds. If you spend capital monies and it is not the outcome you or your staff desired, you cannot turn back the clock. Expensive lessons can be learnt and these are not the lessons we can afford to learn in this desperate financial climate.

 I have always applied the basics when acquiring a high standard of services and VfM, whether its £1,000 or £50,000 being spent. The 4 Cs model (The National College for Teaching & Leadership, 2010) has always stood the test of time, it’s a logical framework to guide SBMs through the stages of ensuring check and challenge. Ultimately, everything purchased is about ensuring high impact on the quality and delivery of a balanced curriculum and outcomes for young people.

 I mentioned the time sensitive aspect earlier in this blog and procurement can be a lengthy process and sometimes mean that SBMs have to take a little longer securing services, resources and works for a school. One of the largest difficulties SBMs face in the current climate is engaging with contractors and suppliers. If you have engaged with 3 or more suppliers, previously for quotes, the unsuccessful companies can be reluctant to engage in future discussions. This means meeting standard procurement procedure can often be a challenge. This is why it is important for SBMs finding high quality and reliable businesses to form robust business relationships and partnerships for the future.

 The latest release of the ISBL Professional Standards and their procurement chapter is a great starting point for any SBM.

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