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7 key challenges faced by Housing Associations

...and how you can overcome them
By Steve Rowland on 31 August 2022

Every organisation faces procurement challenges, especially housing associations. Along with inflationary forces and material shortages, housing associations face tightening regulations, project delays, and fixed budgets, to name just a few. They must find ways to leverage their procurement function to deliver value for money and mitigate risk, as they develop and maintain their housing stock and deliver services for their tenants.

With a wealth of experience working with public sector and publicly funded organisations, eXceeding offer best practice procurement advice, enabling our clients to improve procurement processes and increase efficiency, ultimately saving time and making budgets go further.

Let’s explore some of the challenges faced by housing associations, and how eXceeding’s services can help…

1. Compliance

Most housing associations must adhere to Public Contract Regulations when procuring goods, works, or services above a threshold value. Typically, the routes to market selected are tendering, frameworks, or Dynamic Purchasing Systems.

However, each of these routes all have built-in challenges and are not optimal for every scenario. For example:

• There may not be time or capacity to run a tender process
• Desired suppliers or bidders may not all be on the same framework
• Difficult to gauge interest level of bidders and the bid response may be disappointing
• There may be a requirement to direct award as well as run competitive processes

The Solution:

Equip your team with the knowledge you need to ensure compliant procurement. From the the end-to-end process, to the category market place and procurement frameworks available. If procurement capacity is an issue, there is an option to shift most of the procurement effort over to a consulting team, like eXceeding team.

2. Procurement Team Capacity

Procurement teams are often under-resourced, whether it be through sickness or annual leave, lack of recruitment/departmental budgets, or workload spikes (exacerbated by sometimes poor internal systems and processes that don’t provide early warnings to allow teams to plan effectively).

The Solution:

We can offer three different service levels of project specific support:

• Level 1: Transactional platform process management, including Statement of Works (SoW)/Contract review and payment management
• Level 2: Specification development, Additional Statement of Works (SoW)/Contract refinement and optimisation, supplier sourcing where required.
• Level 3: Full end-to-end support, including market engagement, running the procurement, contract negotiation, and ongoing contract management.

This means you can access as little, or as much, of the project resource you need. In addition, we have the capability to run multiple projects concurrently.

3. Adding Social Value

Social value is becoming an increasingly mainstream issue but, for many organisations, key procurement decisions are still being made with little consideration for their social impact.

How organisations are choosing to add social value varies – whether it be procuring from local suppliers and supporting small businesses, or reducing spend in order to release funds into the community.

For housing associations, this is plays right into their overall role within community housing projects. But with increased expectations for organisations to add social value to the way they operate, it’s not always easy.

The Solution:

We can open the door to smaller, local suppliers, allowing housing associations the opportunity to procure goods and services from local businesses which may not be accessible through other frameworks, and may not have the resource or capability to respond to tenders.

eXceeding can work with housing associations to approach specific organisations and onboard them, providing them with an opportunity to contract compliantly.

Case Study:

eXceeding has worked with a Midlands-based housing association who wanted to run a competitive process with a pre-defined list of local suppliers that were not all on a single framework elsewhere. The procurement operations team approached these suppliers to verify their level of interest and commitment, before onboarding them in time to be able to participate. eXceeding also supported the procurement process, resulting in a contract award to a new, local supplier.

4. Achieving Net Zero Targets

Reducing your carbon footprint and becoming more environmentally aware is something every organisation has on their radar – and this is no different for housing associations.

The clock is ticking to achieve net zero by 2050, which is closer than it sounds, posing a monumental challenge to housing associations. On top of this, they’re expected to achieve a C rating on Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) across all homes by 2030. However, offsetting is simply not enough to achieve these goals.

The Solution:

eXceeding can help to identify new entrants to the market that may not have been an option using other frameworks, and build them into a marketplace to specifically address the challenges posed by Net Zero. The eXceeding team can also support with appropriate qualifying and quality questions to ensure adequate screening of the best suppliers through the procurement process.

5. Limited Timeframes

It’s no secret that houses are in high demand. And with around 10% of households in England being rented from housing associations, this is only increasing the expectation for fast turnaround on housing projects. This includes not only the procurement process, but also the awarding of new suppliers.

However, running tenders is a time-consuming task, making project delays much more probable.

The Solution:

Thanks to our dedicated team, we can speed up much of the procurement process.

Case Study:

For example, eXceeding helped a London-based housing association whose framework was expiring, meaning their existing contracts with suppliers (for ongoing works) we at risk of non-compliance. The eXceeding team were able to quickly onboard these suppliers, renegotiating contracts and directly awarding the suppliers, resulting in compliant contracts with no disruption to the delivery of the service.

6. Value For Money

As part of the tender process, procurement teams are expected to be sure they’re getting value for money from suppliers.
This is additional pressure for the procurement team, especially within housing associations, where there are already tight project deadlines and strict budgets.

The Solution:

The expert support we offer delivers real benefits, especially where negotiation is required. Value for money is about quality as well as cost, and as well as saving typically up to 20% on contracts, we ensure that good specifications are met and delivered through the lifecycle of the contract (dependent on the service level selected to some degree).

7. Lack of Category Knowledge

Housing association procurement teams are often asked to procure goods, services, and works that they’ve never bought before and can bring risk. For example, fire-resistant cladding, fire warden services, ICT solutions, or new products and services to help meet net zero targets.
Sourcing these suppliers, developing market-ready specifications, and mitigating risk can be challenging with limited category knowledge.

The Solution:

Alongside general best practice procurement process advice, eXceeding have specific category experts in their team, with knowledge gained across extensive experience in their own field. However niche the requirement, eXceeding can advise on, or deliver, projects.

Case Study:

eXceeding has previously worked with a local housing association who needed a contractor to provide radon gas remediation services. However, they couldn’t identify enough suitable contractors to run a healthy competition. eXceeding’s goods and works category team were able to help by sourcing additional contractors who were much more suited to their requirements. A contract was successfully awarded to detect and control levels of potentially harmful gas across a large housing stock.

Want to discuss how eXceeding can help your housing association? Contact us now to book a consultation with Leigh Hatfull, who’s already working with a number of Housing Association across the UK, to discuss your current challenges.

Steve Rowland - eXceeding Managing Director

Steve Rowland

Before eXceeding, Steve spent 16 years working on the supplier-side of outsourcing. During Steve’s 24 years’ experience, he has worked on global and UK outsourcing deals, ensuring the creation of win-win partnerships.

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