Insights from the Technology Procurement Symposium in L.A.

British journalist and procurement industry analyst Nancy Clinton has shared some insights from the public…...

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British journalist and procurement industry analyst Nancy Clinton has shared some insights from the public sector Technology Procurement Symposium which took place a fortnight ago in Los Angeles. British procurement professionals working in the public sector who were unable to attend can now have a glimpse of the issues that were considered.

The Symposium opened with a discussion on how to lift entry barriers for small and diverse tech firms, who between them have the potential to assist large public sector organisations (PSOs) to achieve effective procurement transformation and substantial cost reduction. Attendees heard how a prevalence of existing process-heavy rules were effectively squeezing out smaller start-up innovators from competing in the public space, an exclusion that was depriving public sector procurement pros of the value and expertise they can provide if granted the opportunity. A government-led simplification of excessive rules was needed to open the door to this neglected source of talent and innovation.

Michael Owh, Chief Procurement Officer at the City of Los Angeles discussed “Next Generation Procurement” and how it works in his city. Transparent governance and due diligence featured prominently in his talk, and while he was an advocate of increasing digitisation, he invited attendees to think about where it can and where it can’t make a difference. There are still many facets of the procurement function that depend on the personal touch that only humans can provide for one another. Owh’s focus is on whole-life-cycle procurement which he believes requires an all-encompassing “every perspective counts” approach.

Another especially stimulating panel discussion focussed on “Hacking the Government Technology Process”. Here in the UK, we are perhaps more accustomed to associating the word “hacking” with illicit attempts at intrusion, but in the US, it just as readily means “understanding,” as it did in this discussion. Topics included contracting, the value of in-house versus outsourced tech provided by a suitable procurement consultancy, and attracting customers.

While these discussions were all taking place an ocean and a continent away, many of the topics under discussion can be applied to the procurement processes and scenarios experienced in this country.

Ed Cross

Ed founded Odesma in 2014 with the explicit intent of creating a new kind of procurement consultancy founded entirely on cloud principles. Deploying best-of-breed subject matter experts alongside the best on demand technology to deliver rapid and effective change for customers.

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