Government: Dealing with resource challenges by infusing flexible procurement capability

flexible procurement capability
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Claire Foxall, Executive Vice President, Public Sector of Proxima reveals that when faced with peaks in demand, government is increasingly dealing with resource challenges by infusing flexible procurement capability

Modern commercial functions need a range of procurement capabilities and their requirements continuously evolve in skillset and capacity. Proxima can provide access to the high quality, experienced and flexible procurement capability that will enable you to deliver quickly, across a broad range of priorities.

Government’s commercial challenges – our observations

Central Government spends £49 billion each year on external contracts that are often complex and demanding, representing a vast array of important (and often life-enhancing or life-saving) goods and services.

New service models emerge, driven by changes in technology, lessons in what works and rising public expectations. These may require collaboration between multiple public organisations and significant commercial input. When commercial staff with the right skills are involved at the right time and in the right way, they make a massive difference to the quality of the services and projects delivered by government.

At a time like this, there has never been a greater need for highly skilled and effective commercial staff who are able to develop contracting arrangements in a complex and changing environment, under the weight of constant public scrutiny.

Because the needs of procurement are project-driven and the workload profile is inherently ‘peaky’, it makes the supply of commercial staff difficult to plan. Furthermore, there is a lack of the right procurement skillsets available to offer support at the right time. As a result, the public purse and quality of procurement outcome suffers.

This staffing challenge is highlighted by the Cabinet Office who state that their top three priorities for their Commercial Capability Programme in 2019 are:

  1. Services/products – Focus on the service(s)/product(s) Commercial Capability Programme team delivers ensuring that we reach as many Civil Servants as possible to help upskill both their commercial and contract management capability.
  2. Customers – Becoming more customer focused to ensure a delivery orientated approach.
  3. People – Getting the right people into the right roles, with the right skills.

The Cabinet Office 2019 Commercial Capability Programme top priorities are:

  • Services/products;
  • Customers;
  • People;

Proxima working with government: The right commercial capability at the right time

Proxima’s ‘Capability on Demand’ service provides access to a range of skills, capabilities and resources from Proxima’s award-winning and end-to-end procurement services function. Support ranges from director level through to operational support, across a broad range of categories and procurement and commercial disciplines. This enables commercial functions to boost internal teams by topping-up on capacity and capability when and where needed.

Create best-of-breed procurement in your organisation

The simple On-Demand framework sets out how to work together, either time and materials, project or programme based. Once established, Proxima will simply provide the agreed capacity and capability to assignments as required, enabling your department to have complete flexibility in the capability they choose to buy-in, allowing commercial leaders to solve a variety of challenges. Typical engagements focus on:

  • On-site, off-site, or hybrid sourcing teams;
  • Specific programme or project support;
  • Contract or pipeline assessments;
  • Resource backfill, or pre-hire capacity;
  • Part-time or leveraged roles;
  • Operational support.

Benefits of our Capability-on-Demand service

Focus on core: Invest in core needs using external capability to deliver projects, surge and provide hard to find skills.

Speed up: Shorten recruitment cycles with immediate and flexible access to specialist and tactical procurement capacity.

Embrace agility: Embrace new knowledge and skills through “on the job” training and post assignment knowledge transfer.

Gain insights: from other organisations and commercial functions bringing a different perspective to your team.

How it works in practice

Each assignment is scoped and agreed prior to commencing service delivery, with a plan and target outcomes. The assignment may be standard or bespoke in nature including:

  • ‘Bitesize’ versions of other Proxima Services;
  • Resource augmentation to cover surge, backfill or provide specialist capability;
  • End-to-end project or programme delivery, start quickly and without complexity.

Simply funnel requests to Proxima and your resource can be live in days…

Engage: Start a conversation with Proxima. We will explain all our services and how to engage us.

Agree: Simple and compliant contracting (e.g. MCF2, Call-Off, Direct Award or other).

Getting started quickly and without complexity in a compliant manner

Proxima uses a flexible resource model to maximise productivity; specialists, generalists and operations are all in the mix, meaning that departments can benefit from exceptional and efficient On-Demand procurement support without the fixed investment.

Through working with many of the world’s leading commercial functions to deliver better procurement, Proxima can give constant insights into different sectors, supply markets and effective working practices.

They then use this knowledge in an innovative delivery model which aligns capability and capacity with their client’s needs whether they are strategic or more tactical in nature.

Commercial Director, Central Government Department.

Proxima on procurement: Ensuring that commercial functions are fit for the future

Proxima works with clients to optimise how they buy and what they buy, ensuring that commercial functions are fit for the future, that each pound spent is productive and delivers value for money. Working with numerous clients across the public and private sectors, they are a knowledge aggregator, focused solely on procurement. Supporting customers by delivering this knowledge to them through an innovative, practitioner-led model, helping them to become smarter in the long-term and deliver value faster in the short-term.

Proxima is the UK’s biggest procurement consultancy and proudly a UK SME, with numerous category, commercial and operation specialists working around the UK and globally, helping some of the most recognisable businesses and government departments to become better at what they do.

To find out how we can develop your commercial ambitions, visit or contact Claire Foxall, Executive Vice President Public Sector, on or +44(0)7503 165637.


Claire Foxall

Executive Vice President, Public Sector


Tel: +44 (0)20 3465 4500


Please note: This is a commercial profile


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