Navigating the nuances of tendering for procurement roles is no easy task. On-demand staffing powerhouse Coople needed a consultant with specialist experience, and who better than one who has worked on both sides of the procurement process?
Client: Chief Business Development Officer @ Coople Sacha Bielawski
Sacha: “I handle business development based in the UK for Coople, and had begun to investigate moving our on-demand staffing platform into the possibilities of the public sector.
“An independent agency was running procurement processes on behalf of the NHS, and we were keen to understand the tender requirements. It’s not an area we’ve moved into before, so our core, full-time team didn’t have the exact experience required for this job.
“We went to Talmix because their business model is very much aligned with ours – we’re able to respond to emergencies when staffing issues arise at the last minute, and they were able to find us a consultant quickly to deal with our procurement enquiries.”
Consultant: Alex Hackett, Director of PROCOM (Procurement, Commissioning and Commercial Services Ltd)
Alex: “I kind of fell into procurement, to be honest – in 2002 I was working as an account manager for an IT company, and it became clear quickly enough that while I was commercially minded, I wasn’t too adept with sales, shall we say.
“So I got into buying, and stuck with that as I headed to Marshall Aerospace in Cambridge. During my time there I studied for my CIPS qualification (Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply).
“In 2005, however, I made my first move into the public sector when I began work for Powys County Council right in the middle of Wales, and spent four years moving up into a corporate procurement management role, while studying for an MBA with a Triple-Crown-accredited business school.
“Finally I spent time as an interim NHS lodged consultant, which was the first real taste I had of working in a consulting capacity. I’ve now run PROCOM for nearly six years, helping businesses to to develop realistic routes to market and tight procurement processes.”
The Problem with Procurement
Alex: “Unless you’re submitting regular tenders as a big business, procurement isn’t something that’s easy to get your head around, more-so when tendering for an NHS job.
“In theory, all the information you need to make applications for a tender of this nature is available to find online, but that doesn’t mean it’s particularly clear or easy to understand.
“When you submit at tender, you’re scored based on the details you’ve filled out in your application. While each application will of course have its own specifics, I can essentially look at what a business is planning to submit and score them in advance and help them make changes as necessary.
“Coople needed advice as to what their realistic chances would be of tendering for the NHS staffing gig – Sacha wanted to know specifics before they further committed to going down this path.”
Alex: “I spent valuable time talking with Sacha to better understand their business model, and to therefore understand the costs or compromises they’d need to make to be able to successfully tender for the NHS job.
“After research and reasoned discussion, Coople decided not to go ahead with tendering for the time being.”
Sacha: “Some might assume that using a consultant is about leveraging experience to make sure work is pushed through, but they can be just as valuable at giving advice at the beginning of a process that prevents a huge expenditure without a desired outcome.
“It was a pleasure working with Alex – he understood our business and what we were looking to achieve, and gave us a perspective that we otherwise wouldn’t have had access to, one that ultimately proved vital when deciding whether or not to go ahead. It’s a better way of working.”
About the Author
Rob has worked in marketing, journalism and SEO for over a decade, operating across b2b and b2c businesses in sectors as diverse as procurement, fine art, law, architecture, literature and financial services. His agency Blackledge & Sandall works with market leaders and award winning artists on anything from website redesigns to print advertising. Out of hours, you can find him wielding a guitar on stage, getting thumped in the boxing ring, or more often than not binge-watching television with his wife and cat.