Bloom and NEPRO innovation can flourish in private sector

Public sector procurement is transforming through Bloom and NEPRO, for which we are the delivery partner. I strongly believe that the impressive growth and positive impact generated by the platform can be leveraged across the private sector too.

For more than two decades I have worked in procurement in the public and private sectors, and have advised governments on both sides of the Atlantic. I have spent the majority of my career driving efficiency and improving outcomes for the taxpayer, and this solution means these objectives are achieved faster and more transparently.

In my experience, having led a number of public and private sector commercial functions, professional services are often not procured in the most appropriate manner for the market. They are usually misaligned with how suppliers operate and bought with too much focus on price rather the ultimate purpose and outcomes in mind. As a result, procurement can be seen as being transactional, and often the promised outcome isn’t realised and added-value opportunities are lost.

Bloom, the delivery partner for NEPRO since 2015, has brought together a vast and growing community of buyers and high-quality suppliers to help the public sector achieve better outcomes from their professional services procurement and assure delivery and value for every professional services project. There are 19 categories of professional services spend and 240 sub-categories. In less than three years, the number of public sector bodies working with Bloom has more than tripled from 51 in 2015-16, with a projected turnover of £90 million by the end of the 2017/18 financial year.

Given this incredible growth and the future opportunities to innovate within the industry, it was an easy decision to return to the UK from America and join Bloom in May. I am now looking forward to driving our expansion into other markets and territories, including the private sector.

Not only can this flourishing community, which has approximately 200 public sector buying organisations and 4,000 service providers – around 120 suppliers are being added every month – achieve up to 19 per cent savings, the speed to market is significantly quicker as well. One hundred days is the traditional procurement route time, but with Bloom, consultants can be in place and ready to deliver in as little as a fifth of that.

Recently, for a children and social care project for Cardiff Council, proposals were received from several suppliers and ready for review within just ten days. Bloom is helping customers and suppliers become 55 per cent faster at delivering projects compared with 2014-15, reducing unnecessary costs and speeding up the delivery of benefits for customers and payments to suppliers. Little wonder Bloom has been asked to manage more than 3,000 projects to date.

Having access to suppliers within the Bloom community that buyers might not otherwise make contact with, is proving a game-changer for innovation and adding value. Further, transparency and trust is essential and Bloom excels in this regard. Every supplier is carefully vetted before being awarded accreditation. In addition, it is free to register with Bloom; supplier organisations can participate in as many opportunities as they wish and only once business is secured is a fee payable.

That transparency is another reason I believe this model can succeed in the private sector where I’ve not come across any platforms like NEPRO, focused on services. And there are a whole range of different marketplaces. Bloom offers dynamic, flexible supply chains, rapid speed to market and a comprehensive procurement solution. We are continuously seeking to improve and develop the platform and associated services, taking into account supplier and customer feedback.

Generally speaking, procurement as a function has not fully harnessed technology – it is still quite process orientated – and we are missing a trick. By embracing tech and encouraging innovation, Bloom will provide the best choice for buyers and more business opportunities for suppliers, big or small.


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