The attached paper analyses the operation in Finland of a “purchasing clinic” model as a means of providing an environment for market interaction by public sector buyers in advance of, or in the early stages of, a regulated procurement.
The age old problem is the tension between the need to understand what the market can offer to meet the authority’s requirement (including innovation around solutions and VfM/ innovation in products and materials) and the fear of skewing the competitiveness of the process and becoming exposed to an elevated risk of challenge.
The outcome can often be that the authority procures in a vacuum and whilst this may have short term outcome of facilitating compliance with procurement regulation it can also have the longer term undesirable consequence that the procured goods/works/services are, put simply, just not good enough.
The “Purchasing Clinic” approach allows the public sector to share its objectives and to actively engage with potential participants in the procurement process to develop/ refine that requirement (in terms of time/ quality and cost) within a structure which minimises the perceived risk of anti-competitiveness.
Would it work in the UK? The author of this paper accepts that his research is limited to the Finnish market but he takes the pragmatic (and correct) view that all Member States are subject to the same EU legislation and, therefore, face the same problem in more or less the same terms.
Our perspective is that this is more of a cultural issue for the UK, but that does not mean that this mechanism is not capable of being adapted to suit our slightly more secretive market and of adding value (and saving cost).
We welcome perspectives on this from the purchasing side and also the supply side….