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Public sector procurement and the ‘art of the possible’

In recent years, technology has transformed the way the public sector procures goods and services for the better. Most notably, powerful e-procurement software has simplified and streamlined the fixed processes in the procurement cycle, bringing major time and cost savings to procurers and suppliers alike. 

In addition to using systems like these, many public sector organisations are exploring ways of adapting other technology to bring extra muscle to the procurement cycle. It’s an approach inspired by what Dan Rowinski, mobile editor at ReadWrite, calls “exploring the art of the possible… and pushing past it.”

Rowinski believes that technology allows us to “see the future everyday” because:

“…systems have been built that enable innovation, allowing people to build efficiently on layers of technology already laid down by their predecessors”

In other words, the ‘art of the possible’ involves thinking creatively about using current technologies to deliver new outcomes. In terms of procurement, the best way you can do this is by re-evaluating your procurement process with fresh eyes and without constraint. By thinking about what you want to achieve at each stage – from pre-procurement right through to delivery,– you can then research technologies that can make these things happen.

While procurement processes differ depending on your needs, organisation and budget, there are many common questions you can ask about the way you’d like to procure. These apply whether you’re involved in local authority procurement or in sourcing goods and services for government departments, the NHS or other public sector organisations.


  • Can I make it easier to engage and involve team members, partners and suppliers before entering into formal procurement?
  • Do I improve collaborative project communications to manage and speed up procurement – and provide opportunities to contribute and evaluate innovative ideas?
  • Can I ensure team members and interested parties are kept informed and up-to-date
  • Can I work with team members and specialists based elsewhere, drawing on their expertise without the need for costly travel or meetings?
  • How can I work securely, in confidence,with different teams of colleagues and ensure they have access only to the information they need?

By considering questions like these, you begin to spark new possibilities for the way you procure. Perhaps you’ve already had ideas that you’d like to share in the comments to this post?

Your next challenge is to match these possibilities to the technologies that can help you. Thanks to the Digital by Default agenda, public sector organisations are turning first to Cloud technologies – such as those available via the G-Cloud’s CloudStore – in their search for software that meet their criteria.

In a future update, we’ll lead you through the process of matching your collaborative procurement needs to the tools and functions available via Cloud software – and in particular secure collaboration services – giving you further insight into how your teams can really begin to ‘see the future everyday’.

You can learn more about this topic today. Simply download our free guide Collaborative Procurement and the Art of the Possible.

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