Procurement and Supply Chain – A Lifeline During the Pandemic

6th January 2021

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One thing that lockdown has shown us is that even when the majority are told to work from home with the bare minimum of contact with others, for some this means they are busier than ever.

Procurement and Supply Chain functions went into overdrive in the first lockdown, working to ensure that supply chains remained as far as possible uninterrupted so we could continue to access the products required that would allow at least some of our sectors and industries to remain active during this challenging time.

Procurement and Supply Chain professionals were faced not only with the challenge of keeping goods and services moving during the pandemic, but also of responding to entirely new demands, such as the increased need for IT equipment that enabled so many to continue to do their jobs from home.

When the construction industry was reopened in mid 2020, the importance of the procurement process became even clearer.  Without robust procurement processes and contracts – for both goods and services – the industry would struggle to get back on its feet and be unable to operate successfully during pandemic conditions.

In part in recognition of the overwhelming importance of the procurement function, at the end of last year RICS launched its first procurement code of practice aimed at Facilities Management professionals.  The code aims to assist in the selection of appropriate procurement routes, and to map out the process for delivering an effective procurement process.  The Construction Leadership Council  also issued guidelines on future-proofing contracts to ensure that any delays to supply-chain etc. caused by the pandemic are allowed for.

As we find ourselves yet again locked down in 2021, the message from the construction industry is clear.  Responsible procurement is key.  Following the Prime Minister’s announcement, Travis Perkins released a statement asking its customers not to over order following the news that construction could remain open.  Its aim is to ensure a continued supply of key building materials to allow the industry to operate effectively and avoid a run on essential items that was seen in March 2020 by concerned contractors and members of the public intent on lockdown DIY.

Whilst the thought of lockdown in the weeks and months ahead is disconcerting for those in the industry and more widely, we can take comfort that lessons learned during 2020 have been acted on, and that as we have already proven, resilience, both personal and professional, will see us through.