Supportive function

  • Supportive procurement functions have a clear organisational remit and are expected to contribute, to pre-ascertained levels, to the institution's overall performance.  Like strategic functions, they will have a functional head.  Unlike, strategic procurement functions they will, typically, control a lower proportion (about 50%) of the institution's non-pay expenditure on goods and services. The Head of Procurement will report through an intermediate function to the Senior Management Team.
  • Information capability is frequently constrained by the lack of common coding systems which mitigates against strategic analysis of expenditure on a commodity or item basis.  Procurement activities and resources are therefore focussed by means of a 'snapshot' analysis carried out infrequently and based on estimates rather than actual expenditure.  Often, this analysis will be restricted to supplier data as the only available course of information.
  • Procurement will have been successfully 'marketed' throughout the institution and procurement staff invited by users to join the specification process, albeit at a fairly late stage.  Specifications will be free from proprietary brand names or other competition constraints that reduce the buyer's scope.
  • Procurement is organised on a commodity basis and may be carried out through a system of nominated buyers or dedicated commodity specialists with low expenditure items sourced by part-time buyers who have other job responsibilities.  The expenditure is policed rigorously to ensure maximum aggregation across users and to strengthen the institution's leverage in the market place.  A procurement procedures manual is available to all buyers and is regularly updated.  Details of institutional contracts are available on the Procurement Office's web site. Buyers would expect to receive introductory training when purchasing becomes a significant aspect of their role.
  • Procurement is set targets related to prices paid and sets itself the task of achieving the '5-rights' [quantity, place, time, quality and price] of purchasing. Procurement performance monitoring is by means of price variance and inflation reports. Suppliers are formally assessed on the basis of delivery and quality.  This assessment is fed back to the supplier and action plans for improvement developed with the most important.
  • Procurement contributes only indirectly to the business process.  The function is advised annually of planned expenditure by commodity and item and expected to plan accordingly.  There is no direct input to the budgeting process.
  • Standard purchasing terms and conditions will be held for the major types of expenditure: consumable goods, services, capital expenditure, minor and major works agreements.