How can City of York Council procure work from small businesses easily, with less barriers and what ways can residents and businesses be proactive in approaching the Council with beneficial ideas and products?
Challenge #3 closed on Wednesday 29th February and gave the Open Innovation team plenty of discussion areas and ideas to debate and decisions to make over which to develop. Lots of discussion was aimed at the area of improving visibility of upcoming procurement opportunities and presenting a more forward thinking plan for the Council and businesses to benefit from. Lots of this feedback is already being addresses within the ongoing work the Commercial Procurement team and Directorates are doing in this area. The opinion of the team was to focus on alternative ideas which relate more directly to the overly bureaucratic processes businesses are required to participate in within Local Authority procurement. Over a long and fruitful selection meeting it was decided that two ideas borne out of this challenge would be selected for further development.
One of the first contributions on the challenge, from Simon Young, expressed frustration at what is perceived as a ‘long bidding process’. Small and medium sized businesses in particular do not have the time and resource that they can dedicate to undertaking the activities required to tender for some contracts. Further contributors then mentioned the process involved and the heavy reliance on ‘form filling’ & ‘paperwork’ required.
Whilst there will always be some aspect of paperwork required, the Open Innovation team will be working with the Commercial Procurement team to look at developing more streamlined tendering processes. Consideration is being given to how we could replace some aspects of “form filling” with alternative submission methods e.g. “video submissions” and whether this approach is more beneficial to certain types of tender process.
Various contributors to the challenge including Antony Powell, Heather Niven & Chris Wedgwood raised the subject of moving away from the traditional use of Procurement and encouraging a closer ‘working relationship’ between the Council and businesses in meeting tender requirements.
The traditional approach to Procurement involves a party (the Council) spending time & money clearly defining their requirements of a product or service. Businesses are then invited to bid for a contract to provide this, and selection is based on an exercise to decide who can best meet the required criteria.
An idea to move away from this will be investigated and trialled. This will look at creating ‘Co-Development’ opportunities between the Council and prospective solution partners. Where the Council would traditionally detail very strict and definite requirements, a lighter ‘brief’ will be created for certain Council service requirements. A ‘co-development’ fund will be set up which will facilitate work between the Council and those who have expressed an interest in developing a ‘purpose built’ specification and/or working solution. Due consideration will be given to the appropriate use of an alternative process to ensure that procurement standards are not compromised.
The Open Innovation team and the Commercial Procurement team are currently investigating the intricacies and details of both solutions and hope to report back soon and how, when and to what degree these ideas will be introduced.
Katie Stewart (Head of Economic Development)
The original thread and all discussions and ideas can be found here.
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