SRUC – a unique procurement challenge
Guthrie Group Limited has risen to
the unique procurement challenge of SRUC, Scotland’s Rural College. The
procurement specialists have been working in partnership with SRUC for two
years implementing an efficient and cost effective supply chain for branded and
PPE clothing and facilities supplies that is aligned to the College’s strategic
Scotland’s centre of excellence for rural skills education, research and
business consultancy partnerships. With six campuses across Scotland, 27 farm
offices, five farms, eight veterinary centers’ and even two golf courses, its
annual procurement budget exceeds circa £20m.
affiliated to APUC, the Advanced Procurement for Universities and Colleges,
SRUC operates to its standards and procurement frameworks. However, the unique
nature of SRUC’s operation has meant that the Procurement Team has evolved its
own highly distinct best practice procedures.
variety of practical, lab and classroom based courses and the College’s far
flung locations present very specific challenges to the SRUC Procurement function.
The Spokesperson for the Procurement Team, Billy Connelly, Corporate
Procurement Manager, commented “to tackle these challenges the Procurement Team
has aligned and built its policies and procedures very clearly around the
business goals and aspirations of the College as a whole”.
giving ‘price’ the significant weighting, for SRUC operational and technical
quality are far more often the defining factors behind its procurement choices.
explains: “There is a high level of scrutiny for any public sector procurement
and it perhaps goes without saying that for us factors such as sustainability
become even more important when working with land based suppliers and operating
in the world that we do. However, our Procurement Team operates from the belief
that we are fundamental to how smoothly and professionally the College operates
– and that makes us critical to the College’s reputation.
“For us that displays
that we want to work with suppliers who recognize and want to work to these
higher goals, who look at service delivery, provide solutions and will be
prepared to be innovative.”
Working with Guthrie’s
has been working with SRUC since 2015. The company tendered for the business
through Public Contracts Scotland, a thorough evaluation process that allowed
SRUC to truly understand who they would be working with.
Billy said: “We
saw in Guthrie Group a company that would be innovative and always willing to
develop new products and services as our needs evolved”.
“Graham Guthrie has an expert knowledge of land-based business and will always
recommend a better product or better price if there is one. If he sees an
operation or service that could be done differently to be more efficient or
less cost intensive, he will put that forward. This partnership with Guthrie’s
has delivered efficiencies’. It has also brought us a new way for students’ to
order clothing and improved the logistics of ensuring that the right product is
in the right place at the right time.”
between SRUC and Guthrie Group works on a number of levels. As Billy
points out, a good supplier is one that listens, and which brings innovation to
the services provided.
level, it depends on expert market knowledge. Procurement is constantly
subject to policy and regulatory changes. The best procurement managers
and their suppliers will also know what’s ‘out there’ – keeping on the pulse of
the market, so that new products or services are always on the radar.
most constructive working partnerships are those which recognize the role that
procurement plays in the commercial success of a business. Not simply, by
cutting costs, but by bringing new ways of doing things whether this is to
deliver a service or enhance internal procedures.
Billy has been
working in public procurement for more than 30 years. About the same time as
Graham has been purchasing for the Guthrie Group. Both have seen the sector
change and want to break down the perception that procurement is a business
blocker; it is a business improver. The experience that the two possess has
ensured that the working relationship between SRUC and Guthrie Group is open,
constructive and built on mutual respect.