Spring Into Action: Preparing for Procurement Reform

You may recently have seen Carl Thomas, procurement reform stakeholder and policy lead at Welsh Government, at one of his preparatory sessions on the changes that are to come. As we arrive at spring, with October coming ever closer, Carl has taken some time out between talks to plant some ideas that may make for a smoother transition once the new regime is live. 

“Spring is typically a season of change – it’s a time of plans and projects; of positivity and possibility; of opportunities and new beginnings.

“And it is perhaps no coincidence that this spring brings the Welsh Government’s Procurement (Wales) Regulations, which will be laid before the Senedd shortly. These regulations are yet another important piece in the evolution of public procurement in Wales and will provide both buyers and suppliers with much more detail on the specific requirements of the new procurement regime.

Looking ahead

“We anticipate that the new regime under the Procurement Act will go live in October 2024. This provides contracting authorities with just over 6 months to consider how best to position themselves, their people, and their supply chains to maximise opportunities to deliver social, environmental, economic, and cultural outcomes for Wales.

“Some initial areas of focus for contracting authorities might include:

  • People – Have you identified key senior stakeholders within your organisation who will want to know about change? Have you identified your organisation’s key suppliers? Have you identified everyone in the organisation that will need to undertake procurement training? Have you got a communications plan with details of the key messages for internal and external stakeholders?
  • Systems – Have you identified where relevant procurement-related data currently resides in your existing e-procurement systems? Have you identified who in your organisation uses Sell2Wales and who might need to use it in the future? Have you engaged with your organisation’s payments / finance team to ensure the requirements for the prompt payments can be met?
  • Processes and Procedures – Have you undertaken a review of your organisation’s current Standing orders to identify where changes will be required? Have you updated existing process maps / routes for different types of procurement, including below-threshold procurements? Have you identified the changes that will be required to your organisation’s tender documents and standard terms and conditions? Does the organisation have an up-to-date contract register? Have you identified the organisation’s planned procurement activity over the next 2 years?

Smoothing the transition

“It is vital that contracting authorities use the next 6 months wisely to ensure they can realise the full potential of the many opportunities associated with these reforms.

“Where spring is considered to be the season of new beginnings, autumn could also be thought of as a time of renewal and transition – time for shedding some of the old mindsets and behaviours, and reaping the rewards of our hard work in the preceding months, preparing for the new procurement regime.”