Article featured in Yorkshire Post: December 20, 2018
YPO reflects on its most trailblazing period to date
As end-of-year reviews go, YPO, the UK’s largest public sector buying organisation, should be more than satisfied with its 2018 performance and results. The Wakefield-based procurement specialist has reported a string of firsts – both internally and within the sector – and is making significant strides in curating a public sector procurement network that is focused on sustainability and social value.
The role of sustainability
In a bid to bolster and deliver on its wider sustainability objectives, YPO created the role of Sustainable Procurement Manager in April this year. This was not only a brand new role for YPO but one of very few similar roles in the UK. Melissa Bell, who has worked in procurement at YPO for over 15 years, was appointed to the position and is now responsible for supporting YPO’s extensive procurement teams in developing environmentally-aware procurement practices by embedding sustainable and social value outcomes into every YPO tender.
Very few organisations have such dedicated roles within procurement but in a move that demonstrates its commitment to procuring efficiently, economically and consciously, YPO created this role which will have an impact both internally and among its customers.
Pioneering improved access and navigation
One of YPO’s key focuses in 2018 has been ensuring its resources can be accessed and navigated in the simplest and most effective way for its customers.
In July, the organisation launched a UK-first-of-its-kind Apprenticeship Framework which has been designed to aid the public sector in accessing apprenticeship training from a range of local and national suppliers, making better use of the Government’s apprenticeship levy, funds from which have been ring-fenced for investment into apprenticeship training.
Keeping the focus on improving access to resources, YPO also launched the UK’s first ‘chatbot’ aimed at helping public sector buyers.
The chatbot – the Procurement Information Provider or PIP for short - is an alternative and effective way for users to navigate their way through YPO’s services and discover the frameworks on offer.
PIP demonstrates YPO’s commitment to leading the way in digital transformation in public sector procurement and forms part of an ongoing strategy to continue to improve customer online experience.
Another string to its digital procurement bow is its new Care Technologies Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) which went live just a few weeks ago.
The DPS, developed in conjunction with the TEC Services Association, brings together Technology Enabled Care Solutions to give public sector organisations the ability to procure care-related technology easily and compliantly.
In support of its framework innovations, YPO’s energy frameworks have been recognised by the Department for Education and the NHS who now direct their members to the YPO energy frameworks as a compliant route to purchase.
Supporting the public sector
In addition to enhanced digital integration, YPO also initiated a series of monthly ‘Meet the Buyer’ sessions which invite small, medium and large suppliers from across the UK to meet with YPO category buyers to discuss contract opportunities and share ideas for innovative procurement.
Since its launch, YPO has met with over 100 different organisations that supply products and services in energy, ICT, food, HR, fleet, marketing, arts and crafts, facilities management, furniture and more. As part of this, YPO partnered with the Yorkshire Ambulance Service and the Yorkshire and Humber Police Forces to host monthly procurement meetings with suppliers to these sectors.
Adding to its list of firsts, YPO hosted its first-ever customer conference in September - The World of Procurement – which was created to help public sector organisations such as local authorities, emergency services, education, health and care, as well as not-for-profit organisations and charities, navigate the complex world of procurement in an especially tough economic climate.
Through workshops, talks and discussion groups, public sector procurement teams and suppliers were able to find answers to hot topics, ask new questions and be at the heart of connecting procurement excellence.
Innovation in education
This year also saw YPO announce its investment in a start-up business and online platform, Edtech Impact. Developed by Innovate My School, Edtech Impact guides teachers and school leaders through the vast choice of edtech products, by evaluating their specific needs and accessing the impact of the solutions available.
Creating and disseminating educational resources has also featured highly on YPO’s agenda in 2018. One of its most celebrated collaborations was a joint venture with Henkel, Puffin and the Roald Dahl Story Company to develop a Roald Dahl party pack for Early Years for the first time.
Supporting schools is an ongoing driver for YPO so the business was delighted to report that its Loyalty for Schools scheme – which sees the business share its profits with over 13,000 customers – has administered £1.2 million in loyalty vouchers for schools this year. Since its inception seven years ago, YPO has given back over £11 million in vouchers to schools.
Good for business
In terms of dividends, the organisation recently reported that it has delivered £7.5 million to its owning member authorities in 2018. Historically, YPO has delivered £150 million in dividends and this is money that has gone directly back to local authority members and the public purse.
As a well-established Yorkshire business that is forward-thinking, innovative and highly knowledgeable in the procurement world, it is no surprise that YPO’s 2018 turnover reached £840 million.
Looking ahead, YPO continues to set its sights on innovation and growth. It plans to build on this ground-breaking year of ‘firsts’, in particular to deliver more events and innovation in the Care sector and to support the increasing demand on Adult Social Care. The Education sector is part of YPO’s heritage and the business plans to continue shaping the future of schools in the UK, supporting innovation in the sector and helping budgets go further. YPO will also continue to develop frameworks to simplify the customer journey and give back to the community, continuing to embed a socially conscious culture and approach to business.