• Graeme Sloan

Procurement in Education what you need to know.

Updated: Apr 7



For most education professionals, procurement is the last thing on their minds. They want to focus on delivering high-quality instruction to students, yet they often neglect the finer details of how this can happen.


As school budgets tighten and demands on those budgets continue to grow, school leaders find themselves in the unenviable position of making those budgets stretch as far as possible without compromising quality.


In this context, procurement becomes your new best friend, far from being a burdensome chore.


Here are the most important things you need to know about procurement in the education industry.

Relationships

Forget everything you thought you knew about education procurement. It’s not just about crunching numbers anymore. At its heart, procurement is relational.


School leaders can find it challenging to maintain relationships with vendors, especially in rural areas where options are limited. Building and maintaining these relationships takes time, but it’s an essential component to stretching your budgets as far as they will go.


Especially today in our post-Covid world, the market seems to change dramatically every time you turn around. A vendor who had the best price a year ago may no longer be able to provide that today. An example of this is the construction industry; many successful construction businesses were wiped out during the pandemic. One of the critical tasks of procurement is keeping your ear to the ground and rolling with these changes.

Rules

Procurement authorities must do their due diligence in ensuring compliance with the Public Procurement Laws. As one example, one of the best approaches to procurement is called MEAT (Most Economically Advantageous Tender). It allows you to look at the unit cost, support, services, and timings that are part of the proposal. You must declare the criteria you will judge the tender on and conduct a fair assessment; therefore, it’s critical to carefully evaluate the skills and resources of anyone who contracts with vendors or service providers. As a school Head or Principal, you want a vendor there when the photocopier breaks down, not just at installation. You also do not want a challenge to your procurement process. We will provide that comfort.

Innovation

One of the most significant benefits of procurement is giving schools more freedom to innovate when it's done right. A formal relational contract allows both parties the flexibility to try new projects. For example, if your teachers wish to try out new technology, the correct type of contract will enable them to test the waters before making a substantial financial commitment. By reducing the financial risk, procurement opens up possibilities unavailable otherwise.


An organisation skilled in education procurement can identify mutual goals, ensuring that a contract results in the long-term benefit of all parties. When both parties to an agreement are invested in the process, there is a much greater likelihood of success. While a relational contract is legally binding, it also contains elements of trust-based collaboration, which is often missing in traditional arrangements. A good example is agreements with the local farming community to help the school “eat the view”. It promotes sustainability, reduces food miles and processing, and provides opportunities for the students to engage with the farmers to understand better mathematics, biology, science, environment, and business studies.


If you’re ready to transform the procurement process in your school to a more cost-efficient and relational model, reach out to Procurement4Education to see how we can help.


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