Award winning procurement in Transport for London Borough of Merton

1. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me today Michael and many congratulations for winning the procurement award for your transport category. Can you please tell me a bit more about how the award came about?

"Thank you, this is a great achievement for the London Borough of Merton...

"We are thrilled to be recognised for our work with the local small business economy..."

The award is fairly new; it has only been going for about five years or so and is sponsored by the Federation of Small Businesses in London. The aim is to promote opportunities for small businesses and to encourage Local Councils to be a bit more open about their contracts. The awards are open to any London Authority to apply for and are run in partnership with London Councils."

2. Can you tell me a bit more about the work you have been doing with us and the background to the project?

"If we go back about 18 months we had a contract through another London Council which was a traditional framework; but using that framework saw our costs rise by 10% which was a quarter of a million pounds. We decided to undertake a review of the procurement methods and local market and included speaking with some of the taxi operators. We had a meeting with an existing provider who had gained a lot of business from us, so one of our largest providers. We also met with one of our smallest providers and also met with a provider that hadn’t been successful getting onto the framework who had lost their position and hence lost a lot of their contract work. We also met with one provider who was not providing to the educational market but who was interested in getting into that market.

So, we had a good cross section and differing perspectives from the market. Each discussion lasted for about an hour and we explained to them that we wanted to open up the market to more local providers. We received a lot of good feedback and suggestions from those meetings.

We then provided support and worked with a small pilot group to reduce barriers to contract opportunities in the taxi market.

We shared this information with adam when we first met yourselves to provide a good overview of our local market; what the pressures were; our escalating costs and we had identified potential savings of 15-20% minimum on the inflated costs. In other words, to recover the 10% increased costs and achieve an overall 10% net saving on the baseline from 18 months previously.

From your own experience, adam felt that a minimum of 20+% savings were possible and which very much aligned with our view. These savings would be achieved in part by use of the multiple bid function within the adam DPS."

3. And along with the projected savings, what else attracted Merton to us which helped you win the award?

"We were also attracted to adam because we didn’t have the resources internally to do a major market engagement piece. We met with your supplier engagement team, talked it through with them and we agreed a plan and they got on with it; reporting progress regularly.

They were casting the net very widely and coming out with about 230 potential suppliers in the Merton and surrounding area; but that number quickly reduced to about 150 because some of those companies were no longer trading or weren’t interested. We invited these 150 providers to a supplier engagement day.

Next steps were getting existing and new suppliers to register. About 60 actually registered on the system of which 28 are currently fully enrolled and bidding for contracts; with the remainder still in the process of satisfying our criteria ready to be enrolled.

That was the journey and adam were using various techniques including telephone contacts, chat lines, email, webinars and user training to try and get the market engaged. Alongside this the Council was speaking to individual company Directors as well asking them if they had submitted their forms, were there any problems and we just kept chivvying them along.

Between us we got to a point where we went live on the 12th of December and we started to run the tenders from the 9th of January."

4. And what were the initial results of the project with us?

"Of the first 10 taxi routes that we tended we were achieving 20% average savings and we had a planned schedule to re-tender over 80 routes over a 4-month period.

So, that's where we got to and as I say the attractions for us at the time was having an integrated DPS solution with multi-bid functionality and the supplier engagement offering from adam."

5. OK, so were you already aware of the awards before talking to us as it sounds like this all came together at the right time?

"No, we weren’t. We did not set out with the intention of applying for any awards. The award came about because Directors recognised how the project had opened up the supply chain and achieved savings. They suggested we put forward a submission and it was successful.

Other reasons the Directors saw the project as being successful were because it was delivered on time and on budget. A lot of projects tend to be delayed or go over budget but this one didn't; it was on time and on budget."

6. So, it was quite a unique moment of time that this came about working with us?

"It was a good example of how a project should be run and delivered.

I must say the Supplier Engagement team at adam was very motivated to drive the agenda with the suppliers, they were always ringing them up and chasing hem for documents, progress updates and things like that. Our supply chain increased from 11 to 28 through the Council's pilot scheme and subsequent adam supplier engagement."

Thank you again for your time Michael and once again, congratulations from all of us here at adam.

To find out more about the award you can read the overview story here and Merton themselves have also written a story on the award on their website which you can view here.

If you would like to be kept up to date with our latest transport news from other clients click here.

Read the stories of other Public Sector Organisations who have overcome their challenges, implemented change and are now seeing results, it might inspire you to do the same.