Achieving operation excellence and strategic impact
Our adoption of the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS) Procurement Excellence Programme has significantly increased operational control. It has helped us be more confident and proactive, improve efficiency and make us easier to find within the NHS framework.
The NHS Midlands and Lancashire Commissioning Support Unit (MLCSU) operates within a complex procurement environment, offering a comprehensive array of services. Following an NHS restructure that introduced new personnel and methodologies, alongside an audit identifying areas for improvement, MLCSU embarked on a strategic initiative to refine its operations. The Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS) Procurement Excellence Programme provided a structured framework to guide MLCSU’s enhancement journey, ensuring alignment with best practices and industry standards.
MLCSU supports nine health systems encompassing 25% of England’s population, along with NHS trusts and various government, health, and social care clients. Its services range from competitive procurement and supply chain management to strategic spend analysis and category and contract management. Amid challenges such as cost pressures, sustainability concerns, and regulatory compliance, including adherence to NHS England’s procurement guidelines, MLCSU has consistently sought to integrate global best practices through continuous learning and development.
In 2019, recognising the need for a systematic approach to address these challenges, MLCSU adopted the CIPS Performance Excellence Programme. This decision was driven by the desire to benchmark its practices against the CIPS global standard, focusing on processes, policies, procedures, and personnel competencies. The initial assessment led to significant improvements, including the enhancement of contract management processes, the introduction of updated policy notes, and the revision of key document templates. A working group was also established to ensure the integration of continuous feedback from both team members and clients.
The reassessment phase, two years later, focused on evaluating the impact of organisational changes and the COVID-19 pandemic on MLCSU’s operations. This phase allowed for a faster and more effective demonstration of compliance and performance improvements to the CIPS Assessor, highlighting the unit’s adaptability and resilience.
The MLCSU has identified key outcomes from its journey towards procurement excellence:
- Increased control: The introduction of more robust processes for contract management and template development has significantly enhanced operational control within the unit.
- Greater confidence and proactivity: Accreditation by the CIPS has bolstered MLCSU’s confidence, enabling a more proactive approach to the broader organisational agenda. This is exemplified by its active participation in the sustainability group and contributions to the green plan, leading to improvements in our audit trail.
Through its commitment to excellence and continuous improvement, MLCSU has not only enhanced its procurement processes but also contributed positively to its operational efficiency and strategic objectives, setting a benchmark for procurement excellence within the NHS framework.
‘The CIPS accreditation process has been rewarding and reflective. It has made us a better procurement function and provided us with the rigour to explore areas for improvement and innovation.’ Beverley Thomas, Head of Procurement and Corporate Services, NHS Midlands and Lancashire Commissioning Support Unit
‘We continually review the Performance Excellence Programme assessment process and this ensures organisations are always stretched a bit at each reassessment and are keeping their policies and procedures up to date.’ Chris Sykes, CIPS Assessor
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