We've got a new look! Tenet Education Services and CPL Group have joined the CPC brand! Learn more 

CPC Swoosh

24 top procurement tips for educational establishments


By Lee Duckworth

Do you want to save money? Do you want to get good value for money? Do you want to save time? If you have answered yes to those questions then keep reading. One of the best ways to save money and time for your institution is to buy smarter. You are always going to need to buy products or services, so having good procurement practice in place is essential for every school, academy, college and university.

Our procurement consultants have brought together their knowledge and expertise to create 24 tips that are essential to good procurement practice. So, whether you’re a teacher with purchasing responsibilities, you’re new to a procurement role or you’ve been working in procurement for many years, take a read of our top procurement tips below:

1Plan ahead to allow sufficient time to invest in the drafting of a specification. Make it as clear as possible for suppliers to understand how you want them to respond.2Explore the opportunities a framework can offer your project. Speak to framework providers to seek what added value the framework offers. One benefit is time-efficiency. Frameworks reduce the time it takes to run a tender, as suppliers have already been pre-vetted.3Consult with ALL internal stakeholders prior to finalising a tendering timetable and specification. Unknown annual leave or prior commitments on key dates in your timetable may have a negative impact on your tender timetable.4Listen and take advice from others and learn from people’s experience. Buying in consultancy is one way to gain this advice. The industry insight will be money well spent and should increase savings.5Don’t handcuff suppliers by stifling innovation. Use the knowledge of suppliers to help you gain knowledge on goods or services. Many suppliers will happily provide guidance on their marketplace.6Develop and maintain a contracts database. This will become a valuable tool providing a programme of works for the coming months/years and ensure contracts are not forgotten.7Remember the 80/20 rule. 80% of your expenditure will be with 20% of your suppliers (if not less). Implement robust contract management procedures for these suppliers and protect the majority of your expenditure.8Know the marketplace. Don’t assume that the marketplace will react when you need it to. Don’t get caught out by asking for assistance during the busy periods and being refused.9Make sure you know whose terms and conditions are being used in a contract. Don’t assume that because your terms & conditions are on the back of your purchase order then yours will be legally binding. Supplier’s terms and conditions are there to protect the supplier!10Ensure you are familiar with the EU procurement rules. Failure to understand the rules could result in legal action being taken against your establishment.11Understand what an ‘approved supplier’ actually is (or isn’t). An approved supplier isn’t one “who we always use”, they should be those who via a competitive tendering process offer the most economically advantageous offer.12Ensure your financial regulations are up to date, and easily understandable. You cannot blame budget holders for not following procurement procedures if the rules are not clear or readily available.13An Invitation to Tender (ITT) or a Request for Quote (RFQ) is your ‘shop window’. Present the document as though you’re the one selling. After all, the aim is to attract the suppliers that you want to work with.14Become a member of the Crescent Purchasing Consortium. Membership is free and the 70+ EU compliant frameworks have been designed for education. Click Here15Don’t forget to benchmark internal services. Many establishments have used their own internal services for many years and have lost sight of industry standards and working practices.16Collaboration works! Suppliers are attracted by large contracts, and once won they don’t like to lose them. Find a collaboration partner(s), and work as a group to maximise your buying power.17Learn from a process. Take time post award to learn from the process. Investing time into reviewing the last tender process and making changes from lessons learnt will ensure that next time you don’t repeat your errors.18Take advantage of the free procurement resources available to the education sector, such as www.felp.ac.ukClick Here19Visit www.gov.uk and search ‘Deals for Schools’. View an increasing list of frameworks which have been proven by the DfE to offer value for money to schools.Deals for Schools20When being offered ‘Share of Savings’ or ‘Percentage of Contract Value’ deals from Procurement Consultants consider the fact that you are agreeing to them receiving a fee which is unknown at the time of acceptance. Would you sign a blank personal cheque?21Since 18th October 2018 all communication and information exchanged in tender processes for contracts above the EU threshold must be carried out electronically including the submission of tenders.Blog article22Outsourcing a non-core service can bring many benefits if the contractor is contract managed. Do not overlook the need for robust contract management when tendering for a service.Services23Procurement network meetings are a useful tool to enhance your learning. Meet peers and take advantage of the opportunity to exchange ideas and seek advice.24Don’t send out any invitation to tender just before a holiday period such as Christmas. You will reduce your chances of a good response as some businesses will close over the holidays and will not have the time to complete your tender on their return.

We hope that you find many of the procurement tips useful for your educational establishment, but if you would like more help to get the best value for money for your institution, please get in touch with us. Tenet have a dedicated team of procurement consultants who are experts in procuring for the education sector. Should you require support on a one-off, short-term or long-term basis we can provide a service that is tailored to your needs.

Related News

Framework Focus - Salon Products and Equipment Framework

The CPC Salon Products and Equipment Framework went live earlier this month!

Read more

Crescent Purchasing Consortium achieves international recognition with ISO 45001

CPC is delighted to have achieved the prestigious, internationally recognised ISO 45001 accreditation for Occupational Health & Safety.

Read more

Gimme five! Exploring CPC's framework catalogue

Did you know CPC provides access to no fewer than 88 purchasing frameworks? Here's five of the agreements our 10,000+ registered members can benefit from.

Read more