Wednesday, 21 December 2011

New London Training courses for Oil and Gas industry in 2012

I shall be presenting a new range of courses in London in 2012.  They are aimed at the oil and gas industry, but most will have much wider applications than that.  Contact me for further details.
20th February - 24th February 2012
Best Practices in Procurement Management for Oil, Gas and Petrochemicals
Effective Purchasing and Supply for the Oil and Gas Industry

20th February - 2nd March
Advanced Procurement Management for Oil, Gas and Petrochemicals

27th February - 2nd March
Effective Project Procurement Management for Oil, Gas and Petrochemicals

26th March - 30th March
Successful Negotiation in Procurement and Sourcing

16th April - 20th April
Maximising Performance via Supply Chain Management in Oil, Gas and Petrochemicals

14th May - 18th May
International Sourcing and Purchasing for Oil, Gas and Petrochemicals

14th May - 25th May
The Complete Programme for Sourcing and Purchasing within the Oil, Gas and Petrochemicals Fields

21st May - 25th May
Advanced International Sourcing and Purchasing for Oil, Gas and Petrochemicals

11th June - 15th June
Effective Purchasing and Supply for the Oil and Gas Industry

2nd July - 6th July
Effective Project Procurement Management for Oil, Gas and Petrochemicals

17th September - 28th September
The Complete Programme for Sourcing and Purchasing within the Oil, Gas and Petrochemicals Fields

24th September - 28th September
Advanced International Sourcing and Purchasing for Oil, Gas and Petrochemicals

1st October - 5th October
Best Practices in Procurement Management for Oil, Gas and Petrochemicals

1st October - 12th October
Advanced Procurement Management for Oil, Gas and Petrochemicals

8th October - 12th October
Effective Project Procurement Management for Oil, Gas and Petrochemicals 
26th November - 30th November
Maximising Performance via Supply Chain Management in Oil, Gas and Petrochemicals 
3rd December - 7th December
Successful Negotiation in Procurement and Sourcing

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Course dates for 2012

I shall be presenting the event Developing Compliant Evaluation Processes for BIP Solutions in Manchester on 20th March 2012, and Birmingham on 10th April 2012.  Hope to see you there.  Details on the BIP solutions website.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

New book on Public Sector Procurement

Our new book is now published by Cambridge Academic, and is called “Excellence in Public Sector Procurement in Public Sector Procurement-How to control costs and add value”
Co-authored with Stuart Emmett, it has been written because whilst, there are many general books covering Procurement, not many cover solely the public sector.
Yet this sector spends colossal amounts of taxpayer’s money on goods and services; the NHS alone, for example, is one the largest organisations in the world.
The UK public sector also has its own peculiarities and differences from the private sector, for example, the EU Procurement Rules that guide and direct how purchasing must be undertaken.  At regional and local level there are additional priorities, which are often subject to political oversight.  In addition there are opportunities to use Procurement as a tool for wider objectives.
It may be that such regulation constrains and limits procurement best practice and therefore such tensions will also be briefly explored in the book. However the main thrust of the book, will be the requirement to work working within the existing rules and guidelines.
The style of the book is our usual one of being direct with little jargon. It covers all of the basics as well as providing detailed and wider discussions to encourage thought and practical application. To facilitate practical application, the book is illustrated by case studies and application checklists.
The contents cover the following main sections:
Part one. Procurement Objectives
·         Procurement Evolution and The Supply Chain
·         Strategic and Organizational Procurement
·         Procurement Objectives
·         The 5 Rights
·         Product and Services Differences
·         Procurement by the Strategic Requirements
Part two: The Procurement Cycle
·         Needs/Specifying
·         Sourcing
·         Enquiry and Evaluation
·         Tendering in the Public Sector
·         Order placing and Contracts
·         Handling orders
·         Progressing and Delivery
·         Loss and Disputes
·         Balancing Commercial and social objectives
Part three. Public Sector Procurement Frameworks
·         Overview
·         The Regulatory framework
·         Lower Value Procurements
·         Best Value concepts
·         SME concordat
Part four. Best Practice and Contexts
·         Suppliers pricing
·         Relationship based approaches
·         Outsourcing with NHS Case Study
·         Private Finance Initiative
·         ICT and E- Procurement
·         ICT Project Procurement
·         Buying from the third sector
·         Supplier Development
·         Contract  Management      
·         Budget management  
Part five. Public Sector Procurement: some Conclusions
·         Size of the public sector
·         Controversy: Is tendering the best way?
·         Public sector Procurement in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
·         International Public Procurement challenges

This book is intended for:
·         Professional managers in all public sector procurement and supply roles and positions.
·         Suppliers in the private sector who need to understand the public sector
·         Academics such as lecturers or students studying business topics like procurement, purchasing and the supply chain
·         Students of professional institutes such as the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply, The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, Institute of Supply Management and others.
The book is available right now from:

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Excellence in Public Sector Procurement - comments and corrections

We stated in the book that any corrections, new insights and reader comments would be welcome at this blog.  The book took about two years to write and publish, but even so there are bound to be some mistakes - we welcome the chance to correct them here is our readers tell us about them.  There will also be a number of differences of opinion - which we would like to be able to debate.  Finally in a fast moving environment such as public sector procurment there are bound to be changes - which we shall try to keep track of here.  Once such is the new EC procurement thresholds which apply from 1 January 2012 - see here.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

The Death of the Euro

I am at heart pro-Europe and pro-Euro.  Both positions that require some defending in the UK.  At least if you read the Daily Mail, Telegraph, or Express.  However I believe that European countries have more in common than we realise, and more than our differences.  (I am writing this in Kuala Lumpur, a wonderful westernised city that is more different to, say, London that any city in Europe)  I also have a historic view that says that the main purpose of the European Union is to prevent a further major European war - in which it has so far been very successful.

The principle of the Euro is easy to see - a single currency for a trading bloc larger than the USA, providing a potential counterweight to the US Dollar, making it easier to trade across borders and promoting a single European identity. 
Through the travails of the Eurozone, as first Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain, and now Greece, Italy, Spain and even Belgium, struggled to escape the current crisis I was hopeful that the Euro would survive.

As I now talk to my delegates from the Gulf on my course in KL, I find that my beliefs have changed and I no longer think that it is going to survive.  The problems appear to be both economic and political.  The politics rather over rides the economic, because in some ways they are the cause of the economic problems.  In setting up the Euro the EU governments allowed countries into the Eurozone for political reasons that had no purpose in being there (Italy, Greece) and then ignored its own rules to allow the big countries (France and Germany) to flout the rules with no consequence.  These were political decisions.  Meanwhile across Europe politicians played narrow, local political games without attempting to persuade a sceptical European public of the benefits of the EU.  Countries that were beneficiaries of EU largesse (such as Eire) were in favour - the funders were more sceptical (particularly GB).  Robert Peston of the BBC, the usual harbinger of doom, has a lot of information about how the cost of borrowing in the Eurozone is going to pull it apart (in fairly short order).  Michael Lewis's new book "Boomerang" is also very informative about how the economic markets are now likely to bet against Eurozone countries and the Euro.  Link here

Gordon Brown's 5 economic tests now seem wise in ensuring we did not join.  They were;

  1. Are business cycles and economic structures compatible so that we and others could live comfortably with euro interest rates on a permanent basis?
  2. If problems emerge is there sufficient flexibility to deal with them?
  3. Would joining EMU create better conditions for firms making long-term decisions to invest in Britain?
  4. What impact would entry into EMU have on the competitive position of the UK's financial services industry, particularly the City's wholesale markets?
  5. In summary, will joining EMU promote higher growth, stability and a lasting increase in jobs?
The Eurozone countries did not have equivalents, and now are living with the consequences.  However for all the potential benefits of saving the Euro, the European public has not been convinced to do so.  Politicians have failed to prepare the ground for such an eventuality, and so there is no support for any action.  And the inaction is pulling down the Euro in an irresistible slow train wreck.  In order to protect the Euro, it seems necessary to move strongly towards a United States of Europe - which is unpalatable to voters.  Acting in ways that might allow the Euro to survive is pretty much electoral suicide in any Eurozone country (and indeed in GB).  So the inevitable outcome now seems to be the death of the Euro.

The resulting chaos will not be pretty (and not for the UK either - we don't seem to realise how dependent we are on the EU for our own economic well being).  At the end of it the Euro as a single currency will be unthinkable for a couple of generations (at least).  It is possible that it may even lead to a break up of the EU itself (the only way for Greece to leave the Euro at the moment is to leave the EU as well), at least of peripheral countries which will fundamentally change the nature and role of the EU.

The fantasy of some is that this breakup will be easy and simple and lead to the reinstatement of a simple European free trading zone, with very little in the way of legislation slowing down public sector procurement.  My feeling is that this is far off the mark - we are likely to retain much of the restrictive legislation for years as a hangover (at least), whilst restrictions on free trade will be quickly imposed by any country leaving the EU.   But I could be wrong - after all, I was on the Euro.  (I think).

Mixing procurement and politics

My colleague at BIP Solutions, Eddie Reagan, makes a lot of sense about politics and procurement in this blog here.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Business Basics: Looking after your health

The Head of Lloyds TSB, Antonio Horta-Osorio, is taking medical leave after suffering from physical and mental exhaustion.  There has been speculation about whether he will ever return, but thankfully relatively little suggestion that his illness showed that he was not up to the job.

There is a common machismo in business that can easily lead people to overwork without taking care of themselves.  It is an easy trap.  Office life is pretty sedantary, commuting is both stressful and sedentary, and much business life revolves around either lunches or fast food grabbed on the run.  It is easy to put on weight and take no exercise.  And to cap it all wine or beer often accompanies the lunch or dinner, or is an easy way to relax after a stressful day with the boss, co-workers or customers.  Holidays are distractions from the office, and thanks to blackberries and the internet often not even that much of a break.

I'm not being moralistic, and my wife will point out that I am guilty of much of the above.   Especially not taking at holidays and working at weekends.  My self justification is that my income depends on the level of work I do, and so a holiday costs double in both the cost of the holiday itself and lost income.

This cuts little ice.

And rightly so.  What we often dont think about it that if we do not take breaks, eat and drink moderately, and excercise well it actually interferes with our ability to do the job.  Maybe not in the short term, but for most people the working career is long.  And getting longer.  We can now expect to be at the coalface for 45 years or more.  That is a marathan not a sprint.

When we are stressed and have poor health we tend to make poor decisions.  We tend to be depressed and morose, or occassionally manic, and our judgement goes.  Of course we don't notice it.  But it happens.
And we are no use to the business if we have a heart attack (or worse).

Exhaustion is easy to fall into.  Your body and brain just pack up with the stress and exertion.  Some people come back more aware and able to prevent it in future.  Others never come back.
  So no matter the workload and the crisis, try to put some effort into looking after yourself.  Athletes train and watch their food to ensure they perform at the top level.  Business people need to do a bit of the same.  Only a bit - today I have just had a delicious bacon butty, but I did go to the gym.  I found that setting gym visits as a KPI helps me to go regularly - otherwise it is just something I intend to do but don't get round to.  I might not make my 100 gym trips per year, but recording how many I have done (and how many still to go) helps me focus.  For you it might just be scheduling a daily 10 minute lunchtime walk to the coffee shop.  My today list has a little section for personal development which includes going to the gym.

Your doctor probably gives you all the advice you need on this (mine has wanted me to lose 10kg for 20 years), and I don't to be another nag.  Just that you need to think about and prioritise your health to ensure you can work at peak performance for nearly half a century.  The usual suspects - watch what you eat, stop smoking, try not to drink too much, take regular holidays (ideally somewhere with no Blackberry reception - I recommend the Scottish Borders!), walk or take regular exercise.  You are no use to anyone if you are dead.

And incidentally the same applies to your staff and direct reports.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Training course changes

The current economic climate is obviously having an impact on businesses, and as a result we have been forced to cancel the three courses in project management scheduled for November and December.  We shall look at arranging new dates in the new year.  In the meantime if you are interested in the Project Management courses, please let me know and we can see what can be arranged.

Numbers have been low for a number of seminars, and I am sure that businesses are cutting back on their training activities.  Hopefully this is only for a short while.  When business is slow it is a good time to get staff to refresh their skills, confident that they will not be taking them elsewhere in the near future.  However it is hard to be that positive about the future, and many businesses take the attitude that training is a discretionary spend that they will cut.  Obviously I am biased in this discussion, but I have put my money where my mouth is and paid to improve and broaden my skillbase and I feel it paid off.

In more positive news about training, we hope next year to have a very exciting series of training events in London.  Most will be about procurement and supply chain, but there will be a broad range.  More details to follow.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Good news/bad news - Procure4London

The local authorities in London are banding together to procure collectively.  This should achieve the twin aims of reducing costs, and making it easier for smes to bid for business (though not necessarily to win business).  The site went live on 9th September 2011 - see here.

Why do I say good news/bad news?  Well partly the point  I made about about whether this will help smes.
But secondly, it will be another portal.  Opportunities are already supposed to being shared through ContractFinder, and many London opportunities (not just Olympic opportunities) are going through Competefor.  The original intention was to have Competefor as a legacy of the Olympic Games.  That probably died with Glasgow 2014 decided not to use it, but it seems a shame not to use it for this opportunity.  There may be issues I do not understand but it seems from here like a duplication of effort - and cost.

One step forward, one step back...

Quote of the day

The relentless pressure on the Financial system is getting to some people.  And some people are cracking - have a look at the quote of the day from Management Today here.  Made me laugh anyhow.

Thursday, 6 October 2011


The old Office of Government Commerce website has been taken down, and replaced by the Cabinet Office website here.  I can't help but think that this is a misstep.  The government is probably focusing more attention on Public Sector Procurement than any previous administration, and the OGC website was  great source of best practice and clarification of rulings.  It can't have cost that much to run, and the replacement site has a much wider remit and consequently very little actual coverage of procurement (it covers constitutional reform, national security, Transparency, and the Big Society as well as Efficiency which is where we will get most procurement coverage).

I hope that in time the government will see the value in having  a central point to share information about how to comply with regulations, be more effective, more efficient and save money.

In the meantime the old OGC website is here, in the National Archives.  Over time it will become increasingly out of date, but for the next year or so it should still be a good source of information.

Incidentally, if you are waiting for the book Excellence on Public Sector Procurement by Emmett and Wright, we are told by the publisher to expect the proofs this month.  It appears publishing is still a time consuming business.  How long from proofs to print I don't know, but I suspect we shall be lucky if it is this side of Christmas 2011.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Last Quarter Training programme

Incredible as it seems with the weather at the moment the warmest since May, but tomorrow is the beginning of the last quarter of 2011.  So I thought I should quickly outline the training programmes we are delivering before the end of the year.  As always these are run through a variety of providing organisations, which I can either direct you to or you can look up on the net.

I shall be doing six events for BIP Solutions;

Project Management
9th November -  London
16th November – Birmingham
6th December – Manchester

11 October 2011 – Birmingham – Rights to Challenge
18 October – Leeds – Supply the public sector workshop 1 & 2
1 November – Leeds – supply the public sector workshop 3 & 4

I shall also be running four 5 day programmes, two in London -
The Purchasing Management Masterclass, and 5 day Purchasing MBA, and 2 for another company in KL International Trade under the WTO  and the Complete course in Purchasing Management.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Are there really opportunities for SMES in the public sector?

I've written before about the unresolved conflict at the heart of goverment procurement policy - the need to save money and the desire to inolve more SMEs.   It was always likely that for all the rhetoric, money would speak loudest, and government departments would look for savings by aggregating requirements rather than look to the longer term game of stimulating competition.

A couple of other blogs today have provided examples - my friends at Government Opportunities are pointing out that one of the Government's own working groups (on ICT) is saying that things are going backwards - see here.

Meanwhile over at Bdaily, they report on the North East Chambers of Commerce calling for the National Procurement Framework for construction to be scrapped because it would disadvantage North East firms without national reach - see here.

These issues get to the heart of the public sector dilemma - if Britain were a private company it would be able to focus on getting the best quality at the lowest price.  Public Sector procurement always has a broader dimension.  Realistically it always it will.  You can call for all decisions to be made purely on a commercial basis, but the Bombardier issue shows that people (and the media) are not happy with that approach.  And what Politician is going to willingly give up the lever of using public funds to create jobs (and votes) for their constitency?

It is always going to be a difficult balance, and we should expect Politicians of all flavours to tailor their proposals to their audience - even if it leads to inconsistency.  I expect cash savings to dominate for at least another year or two, and then as the clamour for action rises, the policy to be revamped to favour the broader agenda - just in time for the next election.