Essex Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner Fire and Rescue Authority (ECFRS) – ICT Procurement Support

  • Luke Foster
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ECFRS were undergoing a procurement transformation being led by Barkers. Due to the level of short-term procurement resource available internally, ECFRS requested support for the ICT category from Barkers. The ICT team had a range of ongoing projects that required procurement involvement, without which the projects would have ground to a halt. The transformation would see the successful completion of a number of business-critical projects and the introduction of a new ICT Category Manger to the team, so this was a short-term engagement of 6 months.

Historically, ICT did not have permanent procurement resource allocated to the department and with ongoing changes within the team, the available procurement resource for ICT was further reduced. This was exacerbated by a large-scale project that diverted the usual resource away from providing day to day support to the ICT team.

Ongoing projects, which were at differing milestones, needed procurement support and included;

  • A new Workforce Management System 
  • Replacement of the public facing website 
  • A new Applicant Tracking System for HR 
  • Replacement of a Health and Safety System 
  • A range of standard extensions including Microsoft Licenses

Whilst Procurement had offered some historical support to ICT there had not been a dedicated IT Category Manager in place at ECFRS. This resulted in a category with no procurement pipeline and stakeholders often owning the Procurement process. Barkers challenge was to ensure these projects were kept on track and in line with standard public procurement procedure to ensure they remained compliant. 

Barkers were working with ECFRS to strategically review their procurement function, so this project formed part of a broader strategic approach designed to revolutionise their approach to procurement. Barkers placed resource into the ECFRS procurement team, dedicated to driving forward the ongoing ICT procurement projects.

In line with our collaborative approach, Barkers engaged with all the relevant ECFRS stakeholders and project managers in a scoping exercise, gaining an understanding of the status of each project and its requirements. Recommendations were then made to enhance the procurement process,  ensuring that ECFRS remained fully compliant at all times.

A range of methodologies were implemented to meet the objectives of the engagement including;

  • Project Management
  • Stakeholder and People Management 
  • Data Analytics and Tender Analysis
  • Tender Management

Following the correct internal and external procurement procedures, Barkers ensured each project was actioned in a fully compliant manner and met the internal approval processes when being signed off. Each stage of the procurement process was documented, and the appropriate contractual documentation was reviewed and put in place upon completion.

Throughout the assignment, stakeholder engagement was key. Meetings with senior ICT members were held weekly to update on the progress of each project, along with weekly Procurement team meetings with the Chief Finance Officer, building awareness and securing engagement.

A dedicated ICT category manager has now joined the ECFRS team. We were pleased to be able to hand over a number of completed projects that were kept in line with public procurement requirements:

  • Workforce Management Software was completed with final contract terms ready to be signed
  • A new supplier had begun work on a bespoke external website
  • A new supplier was underway with the implementation of a health and safety system
  • Evaluations had been completed on a fit for purpose Applicant Tracking System ready for selection and sign off

We supported and encouraged the beginning of a cultural change within ICT to align them with Procurement. By engaging with ICT on the correct procurement process and principles, we began embedding a partnership culture which will be developed further by ECFRS in the future. 

Author: Luke Foster
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