Head of Procurement and Contract Management at The Royal British Legion
There are some charitable institutions in the UK that feel as if they are part of he fabric of society. The Royal British Legion is one such institution.
From providing expert advice and guidance to recovery, through to transitioning to civilian life, the Royal British Legion provides a lifeline for serving personnel, veterans and their families, supporting them in the face of hardships, injuries and bereavements. The RBL is also the champion of Remembrance and is of course well known for the annual Poppy Appeal and its emblem the red poppy.
And behind the scenes, procurement plays an essential role in the Legion’s work, helping ensure the organisation manages supply chain risk while maximising value for money from donated funds. It’s an integral part of the Legion’s strategy and underpins its strategic priority of Operational Excellence.
In line with its function and aims, the organisation is committed to ensuring its procurement procedures take an ethical approach, ensuring fairness and transparency while working with partners who adhere to legislation, including modern slavery and GDPR.
Procurement procedures also compel the Legion to acquire quality goods and services promptly, providing value for money based on a balance of criteria that’s specific to each requirement.
The Legion’s commitments minimise risk from its supply chain. Though it is not publicly funded – and therefore not subject to public procurement regulations – the organisation reflects best practices in its approach to sourcing all goods and services.
“Our procurement strategy supports the wider Royal British Legion strategy in supporting all serving and ex-serving personnel as well as their families in a reflection of the Legion's key priorities,” says Wayne Bell, the Legion’s Head of Procurement and Contract Management, who joined the Legion in 2019 following more than a decade of procurement industry experience in his native South Africa.
New Contract Management System supports RBL managers
Contract management has been a particular focus for the Legion. In the past, the organisation has had limited contract visibility, further hindered by a lack of tools to support it. “Through collaboration with our IT department, we have built our own, fully-functional Contract Management System using SharePoint, which includes push notifications, dashboards, and other functions,” says Bell. “Our contract managers will have access to the Contract Management System, and we will be supporting and training them on how to manage contracts effectively.”
Earlier this year, the Legion also addressed issues around spend visibility. Again, it fell short of achieving the live, detailed visibility of supplier spending needed to understand, manage and analyse it. “On the back of a budgeting and reporting software that was purchased, we can now slice and dice our spending as required from a procurement perspective,” says Bell.
“It’s difficult to manage what you can’t see, and we have been far too reactive in the past,” says Bell. “The combination of our Contract Management System and the visibility of our spend will be catalysts for us as we step-change to be more strategically proactive.”
Without a capable team, it’s very difficult to be effective in procurement, says Bell – an acknowledgement that prompted him to rebuild his department in 2020. “We are fortunate that we’ve been able to recruit a team that is passionate about who the Legion are, what the Legion does and the contributions we make, but who are also skilled so that we can be effective in what we do,” says Bell.
Successful procurement operations also rely on positive collaboration with both internal and external stakeholders, something Bell is focused on in a bid to improve stakeholder relationship management at the Legion. “When we all collaborate effectively, we ultimately contribute towards supporting our beneficiaries,” he explains.
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