Smarter procurement critical to making savings in schools

New research into procurement in schools in England and Wales highlights the importance of smarter procurement in the face of a changing education landscape

The research, conducted by Education Executive in association with GLS Educational Supplies, found that the funding challenges faced by schools are changing how they operate and are managed. Smarter procurement; a practical guide to improving value and efficiency identifies a need for smarter procurement – which does not only mean a strategic and streamlined process, but one that also includes the whole school.

In addition to drawing on existing sector research, a survey was conducted which focused on the challenges SBMs face when procuring, where (and whether) savings could be made, sources of support, streamlining the procurement process and who it involves. It garnered 216 responses, representing the range of school settings and the breadth of the SBM role.

The survey revealed that 70% of SBMs believe funding is the single greatest challenge faced by schools. It also found that 73% of SBMs ‘strongly agree’ that, year-on-year, their school is having to do more with less funding and fewer resources.

Taking into account the current fiscal landscape for schools, the report emphasises that procurement, always essential, has become pivotal, and that the challenges faced by SBMs in this arena are more than technical; in addition to budget constraints, a lack of time to focus on purchasing is hampering the process.

When asked how the procurement procedure could be streamlined when purchasing day-to-day items 44% of SBMs cited having an automated procurement process; the ability to repeat orders quickly was also highly favoured (40%) and 32% felt that enabling staff to add to an online ‘shopping basket’ would be of value. A further 30% believed pre-approving vendors would help, while 23% were in favour of improved purchase scheduling.

SBMs were asked how the procurement procedure could be streamlined when purchasing day-to-day items – here’s what they said:

  • 44% cited having an automated procurement process.
  • the ability to repeat orders quickly was highly favoured (40%) .
  • 32% felt that enabling staff to add to an online ‘shopping basket’ would be of value.
  • A further 30% believed pre-approving vendors would help.
  • 23% were in favour of improved purchase scheduling.

The findings of the report clearly point towards the need for a procurement process which is fit-for-purpose – a smarter procurement process – and it makes some key recommendations designed to bring this about.

You can read the full report here.

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