WORDS: Lucie Fierdehaiche
This is the third piece in our public sector experts’ Procurement Act series introducing forthcoming changes in the UK*. In this article, we will discuss how the upcoming Single Digital Platform is expected to impact transparency, supplier performance, and administrative tasks, with advice on how to prepare your procurement teams for change.
*The information in this article refers to circumstances as at early November 2023.
Increased transparency and improved supplier access to business opportunities via the Single Digital Platform
The current public procurement IT systems landscape is complex, with several portals in use (Find a Tender, Contracts Finder, financial systems, and more) and different information available to contracting authorities, suppliers, or the public.
The introduction of a Single Digital Platform aims to tackle this issue surrounding transparency. With the UK committing to the Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS), the process of awarding public sector contracts – including pipelines, contract notices, and supplier performance – will be visible to everyone, including the public, on an updated version of the Find a Tender service (FTS) (exemptions apply).
The Secondary legislation will provide additional information on how the existing systems will work with an updated version of FTS. It is likely that the current software used by the contracting authority (e.g. Atamis) will, as is the case today, contain specific functionality to update the notices on FTS.
We believe that this change will drive better value for contracting authorities in two main ways:
- Enhanced benchmarking data: Currently, with information being stored in various locations, a contracting authority is less likely to easily find benchmarking data and ensure it is getting the best value for money for their suppliers. The upgraded version of FTS (exemptions apply) will offer greater transparency, with the data available in a single place, helping contracting authorities to benchmark suppliers' prices more easily, for instance.
- Improved supplier performance: We expect this increase in visibility to increase pressure on suppliers to deliver to avoid being registered as poor performers on a debarment list.
On the supplier side, the new digital platform could mean:
- Greater SME involvement: With the digital platform acting as a single source via which to identify business opportunities, the resulting procurement process is expected to be more transparent and therefore fairer. This could increase public procurement opportunities for small to medium sized businesses.
- Reduced administrative pressure for suppliers: Suppliers would only need to provide their business details once (referred to as the “tell us once” system), making updates only provided as necessary.
Buyers, expect changes to your work processes
How should you prepare for the changes?
- Evaluate and prepare your team: Now is the time to think about your team’s capabilities and workload and how to prepare them for the upcoming changes.
- Implement clear processes to efficiently deal with an increase in administrative tasks.
- Consolidate your procurement pipeline and contracts data to make sure you’re ready to use your data to achieve better prices and that your major contracts are in line with your KPIs (some exemptions apply).
Stay tuned for the next instalment of this series, in which we will explore the “single procurement regime”.
How can we help?
We’re creating compliance checklists, templates, and best practices to help you, and your team, best leverage the new opportunities in the changing market.
If you’d like to discuss challenges and opportunities for your function – including a smooth transition to the new standards of the Procurement Act – please get in touch via our public sector page.