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Frontline: Georgina Jones, Rochdale MBC
How did Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council use the Web to open up £100m worth of its business to local suppliers, mainly SMEs?
PublicTechnology.net’s Contributing Editor John Lamb went to ask the woman in charge
Georgina Jones, head of procurement for Rochdale, could be described as a poacher turned gamekeeper. After all, four years ago she swapped her job in sales and marketing in the private sector to head up procurement activities at the Borough.
Not surprisingly, Jones found big differences on the other side of the desk, being the buyer, compared with when her job was selling in. “Public sector procurement means there is always a process,” she explains. “Sellers can’t do cold calling; they have to wait for us to advertise our requirements.”
But Jones, - perhaps with the insights gained from being the vendor trying to break in - has helped to improve that process considerably. “When I first joined, people were struggling to find opportunities. Suppliers were looking to trade with the public sector and understand how we work - and they wanted one point of contact.”
In response, Jones steered the North West authority and its suppliers through the introduction of an ‘etender’ system. It’s had a big impact on the number of suppliers who are bidding for contracts, the efficiency of the process and the prices that the Greater Manchester-based authority pays.
The council signed up with a system called The Chest run by Due North, a specialist in offering electronic tendering and contract management solutions to public sector organisations and which serves authorities in Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside.