Central Procurement Office


Breakdown of the NETpositive approach

Governance and Strategic Commitments

We started the process by taking time to identify and clarify our strategic commitment to responsible procurement. We had already made clear policy commitments to sustainability within the procurement function, however, there were other institutional commitments we needed to be aware of..

This enabled us to position our own activity within the organisation to maximise synergies and opportunities to demonstrate our contribution or impact.

Materiality Analysis

We systematically reviewed the priority environmental, social and economic issues identified as being material to our institution and broader partners. This meant clearly understanding how the procurement function contributed to delivering the Environmental Responsibility and Social Responsibility commitments of the institution.

This has helped us ensure that the issues we try to address through the procurement process contribute to the strategic objectives of the institution and our key partners.

Risk and impact analysis

Utilising our spend analysis data, the Marrakesh Risk Analysis Tool and AUPO Sustainability Risk Analysis activity we identified the top 72 high risk and impact (environmental, social and economic) commodity areas. Once we had the priority commodity areas identified we supplemented this activity by doing a detailed sustainability impact appraisal on each one.

This activity was carried out by the procurement team and reviewed by the environmental sustainability team, it now forms part of the core procurement process.

We came to realise that although this activity was useful to develop our thinking, risk and opportunity was evident across all areas.

Training and Development

We sought to ensure that responsible procurement became synonymous with excellent procurement practice within our team. This has meant using the activity as an opportunity to build staff confidence and competence on integrating sustainability into procurement decisions.

A series of 5 workshops has been delivered to the team ranging from basic training to advanced understanding on responsible procurement. This has been crucial to developing ownership within the procurement team. Working with the team in this way has also enabled us to be confident we are all communicating effectively and are able to engage with suppliers and the broader institution with real confidence and clarity. We are now rolling out a training programme to key devolved purchasers.

The team training enabled us to develop and demonstrate how we undertake responsible procurement as a central function and has empowered the team to now influence suppliers and devolved purchasers.

Supplier Engagement

As our responsible procurement work has progressed our commitment to the NETpositive approach has deepened. Our training sessions have enabled the whole team to really understand the potential our procurement processes offer to enhance our positive impacts as well as reducing our negative impacts.

A team that understands responsible procurement and has real clarity in terms of our own approach is a team well equipped to have meaningful conversations with suppliers.

We were delighted to be the very first university using the NETpositive Supplier Engagement Tool with all our suppliers during 2015 and this has now been made available to the wider sector thanks to collaboration with NWUPC, NEUPC and TUCO.

In a nutshell, all suppliers are given access to a tool which assists them in developing a sustainability action plan. Contracted suppliers are asked to present their action plan at contract management meetings for discussion. We have already used the data gathered from the tool to shape our ongoing supplier engagement activities on sustainability and to form part of our Annual Report.

Staff Support and Guidance

We have re-developed our website to support staff to develop a better understanding of responsible procurement and what they can do. We routinely speak at internal staff sessions to promote responsible procurement and ensure that staff are aware of the opportunities it provides.

We have included a module on responsible procurement in a staff learning programme, which is being rolled out to all 11,000 staff. As part of the learning programme an action planning tool will provide the opportunity for staff to undertake actions to procure more sustainably and we are able to gather data from the tool to shape our engagement with staff and provide further guidance where it is needed. This is a major opportunity to support and influence the whole organisation to take responsible procurement forward as part of business excellence.

Measurement and Reporting

Measuring and reporting on the positive impact of our procurement activity in line with our commitment to Social Responsibility and Environmental Sustainability is an important part of how we will take responsible procurement forward. We have set a number of key targets/Key Performance Indicators, which we will report against annually. We will produce an external facing annual report to demonstrate our commitment to responsible procurement and share our learning with the sector. Some of our targets include;

  • Achieving Level 5 on the Flexible Framework by early 2017
  • Ensuring every supplier to The University of Manchester is provided with support to develop their own sustainability action plan by September 2015
  • Provide the opportunity for all staff to develop their own commitment to sustainable procurement by December 2017

We will report against these and other targets on an annual basis and share our learning with the sector as part of our ongoing commitment to both transparency and leadership.

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