This is one of the major requirements which is running through the new EU Procurement Directive which came into force on April 14th of this year. Although the Directive has not yet been adopted into UK law this fact is not stopping many purchasers from assimilating the new requirements into their tendering processes. So how providers develop skills and qualifications has already become an important area in any tender.
An article by David Lyon who is Cancer Research UK’s head of procurement set me thinking about what providers could do to demonstrate the development of skills. David said this:
"Increasingly, procurement chiefs are talking about how ‘winning the war for talent’ is critical to their future success. But how do you manage to keep your best talent engaged when their aspirations for career development outpace the available moves in your organisation’s structure?"
What is true for the procurement function must also be true for delivery functions. There appears to be a spate of "corporate reorganisations" happening at the moment. These seem to be managed by consultants who specialise in interim posts to undertake this kind of work. Whilst this may be necessary, I do wonder whether another approach might work at all levels. It seems that providers and purchasers talk a lot about "partnership". But only rarely does one see real partnership happening in practice. There are a range of benefits to be secured from real partnership working in which staff are seconded for short but meaningful periods. David goes on to say:
"Short-term secondments of between two to six months can improve staff morale as well as give your organisation another level of flexibility without losing your best talent. Both organisations can also use it as an opportunity to learn and share knowledge, which in the process can create lasting corporate social responsibility benefits."
Learning about the approaches used by others can lead to the innovations which the new Directive is demanding through tendering. Whilst charities, public sector bodies and private companies engaged in cross-sector secondment can make a significant contribution to breaking down barriers. As David says:
"Bidirectional professional placements, focusing on important projects, provide personal stimulus, the chance to manage a significant change and to develop new skills and insights."
In the meantime it would be wise to establish and maintain an organisation-wide database which records the qualifications, skills and experience of all involved which can be updated in real time and used as a basis for tenders.