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60 seconds with... the National Procurement Service (NPS)

We caught up with category manager Neil Thomas from the NPS to find out his thoughts on procuring travel and working with CTM.

1. Tell us a bit about what the NPS does and how you work with CTM.

The National Procurement Service (NPS) is responsible for ensuring common and repetitive commodities are only procured once for Wales. Public sector organisations throughout Wales have been invited to sign up to the NPS. The offer is that we will be able to provide the best deals on common and repetitive spend in return for commitment from public sector organisations to buy through its contracts and frameworks.

All local authorities; the NHS; all Welsh higher and further education institutions; the four police services and three fire services in Wales; nine Welsh Government-sponsored bodies; the Welsh Government and the National Assembly for Wales have all agreed to buy goods and services that are within the remit of the NPS.

In October 2015, the NPS awarded the first collaborative Welsh Public Sector contract for Business Travel to CTM, who were appointed as the Travel Management Company (TMC) for the NPS and its customers.

2. What do you consider the primary benefits are from the CTM/NPS relationship?

As mentioned, this is the first time a TMC has collaboratively been appointed by the Welsh Public Sector and we hope to benefit from a number of positive outcomes. These include the industry and booking expertise that CTM can provide, as well as full visibility of spend across this category. It is hoped that with CTM’s knowledge and expertise, along with the intelligent suite of reporting information, this will drive future cost savings and inform intelligent procurement decisions.

3. You work with organisations across Wales. How important is it for you to get in front of them and meet face-to-face?

Customer engagement was critical to the scoping phase of the procurement process, helping to ensure that the service offering accurately reflected the requirements of the Welsh Public Sector customers. We established a Customer Focus Group that consisted of representatives from the various customer sectors that the NPS represents. This group will continue to meet during the life of the contract, thus ensuring their requirements continue to be met.

To support the contract, the NPS and CTM have run several customer engagement events across Wales. These are proving to be very successful and the support provided by the CTM Account Management team has been excellent.

4. Do you find that organisations' priorities and cost concerns change based on where in Wales they are located?

We always experience different priorities and concerns when we speak with individual customers, but I would not say these are geographically related. The main influence on customer objectives tends to be driven by the sector they operate in, and not their location.

5. Travel is a new category of the NPS and Welsh public sector procurement. Do you think public-sector cuts are making organisations scrutinise spend in areas that were previously considered unavoidable or necessary?

Most certainly. Any areas that customers can save money are coming under greater scrutiny. This is something we really feel that the NPS contract can help with.

As mentioned, the NPS is keen to highlight to customers that one of the greatest benefits this contract can offer is the full visibility and accurate management information that CTM can provide them with. This information can be a very powerful tool in helping customers identify areas of cost saving and smarter procurement opportunities.

The NPS and CTM are keen to work together to provide advice on smarter travel buying and policy development over the term of this contract.

5. How do you see the CTM/NPS relationship developing over the next few years?

We hope to continue to develop our working relationship with CTM and continue to successfully roll out their service across the Welsh Public Sector, thus maximising the benefits our customers can realise via this contract. This will only be achieved through successful contract management and open dialogue, something I am confident of achieving. I know how much the CTM team enjoy their trips to Wales, so I am sure the relationship will continue to prosper…

If you'd like to find out more about working with CTM, please do not hesitate to get in touch by emailing us or calling us on 0845 470 8702.

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