Spent an interesting day today down at the JANET HQ in Didcot with the Janet Brokerage, talking about purchasing and procurement. And it was interesting!
We were specifically talking about Dynamic Purchasing Systems, (DPS), which are part of the European Procurement Directives and have been around for nearly 10 years, but are really only just starting to be used. They're totally electronic and designed to be used for commonly used or commodity purchases.
So, you start with an indicative specification, in which you don't have to be specific, so it lends itself to output based specs, such as "we want to achieve this". Suppliers then respond with an indicative bid which is evaluated for compliance and competence. At any point during the process you must allow new entrants to put bids in, and allow existing suppliers to make improvements to their bids.
This seems to be a very good process for the technology area - I like the idea of output specifications, and that vendors can change their submissions over time to take account of changes to technologies etc. so the framework is kept current. The competition stage is shortened, and new entrants will keep pricing keen. Seems to me to be a good alternative to some of the procurement routes we currently take.
We then had a good brainstorm about how DPS might be used by the Brokerage to benefit HEIs - lots of good ideas. So, next stage is to come up with some criteria for what areas we might choose to take forward.