The type of procurement function desired by an institution will be determined by its culture. For example, within some institutions, there will be an emphasis on devolved management with much of the day-to-day operational work carried out in the departments. In other institutions, there will be a much more central style. In reality, every institution will sit somewhere on the continuum between a fully centralised and fully de-centralised structure. There is no ruling to say what an optimum structure is. What is important, however, is that the structure chosen suits the institution and provides optimum value for money and comfort in terms of accountability and probity.
There are four main types of procurement organisation - strategic, supportive, commercial and clerical. Over the years they have been given different titles, however, these four seem appropriate to the further education sector.
To assess your institution, it is necessary to determine its current procurement foundations and practices. An assessment may show that your practices are at a different level of sophistication to your foundations. This assessment exercise will help you determine areas where change is needed to help move from one structure to another. It is generally felt that a supportive to strategic structure is best suited to the further education sector.