Grenfell has changed UK procurement irreversibly

The catastrophe of Grenfell Tower in June 2017 has changed the procurement landscape in the…...

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The catastrophe of Grenfell Tower in June 2017 has changed the procurement landscape in the UK for good, a report by Procurious, the business network for procurement professionals, has claimed.

The fire, which claimed 72 lives, was the worst residential blaze in Britain since the Second World War.

During a select committee hearing focussed on a review of Building Regulations last month, the CEO of the construction industry’s certificating and product-testing body the British Board of Agrément, Claire Curtis-Thomas, described the procurement process for the building’s cladding “upgrade” as a “fundamental problem” which had allowed companies involved to become “complicit in poor outcomes.”

A primitive approach to cost reduction and sourcing savings were singled out as an especially corrupting factor that poisoned supply relationship management. Alan Heron, procurement director at the property management and redevelopment business Places for People (PfP) believes this has led to irreversible changes to the procurement landscape in the UK.

He said: “It took something as horrible as Grenfell for people to realise there’s a consequence to looking for the lowest price. It’s refocused everyone away from ticket price and back to value, which is where it should have been all along.”

A new study by public sector procurement framework provider Fusion21 bears Heron’s remarks out. The survey of 80 procurement professionals working for organisations owning over a million homes between them found that 50% reported that their organisations have placed much greater emphasis on quality post-Grenfell, suggesting that cost reduction efforts are no longer ignoring value for money in favour of cheapness.

Of those who said that Grenfell had not altered their organisations’ procurement practices, most said that quality was already considered a crucial consideration

75% of respondents reported that compliance was “extremely important” when seeking value for money.

Sarah Rothwell of Fusion21 said, “… in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the work of procurement teams around compliance has been the focus of renewed scrutiny. The research findings [confirm this].”

Steve Trainor

Steve has over 28 years of success as CPO, MD and Procurement BPO leader in a range of industries. Steve is COO at Odesma, responsible for Odesma’s delivery capability & infrastructure.

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