Fostering a collaborative procurement approach for greater business value

Representatives from all six autonomous universities (AUs) in Singapore gathered at NUS on 28 February 2024, brought together by a common aim to streamline and refine their collaborative procurement approach.

The six AUs, namely, NUS, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Institute of Technology, Singapore Management University, Singapore University of Technology and Design, and Singapore University of Social Sciences, represented by their respective procurement leaders, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to foster a collaborative approach in establishing period contracts, also known as a collaborative procurement.

Initiated by NUS, the working committee consisting of the AUs’ procurement leaders first convened in December 2023, working to spearhead strategic decisions and directions on procurement and harmonise working processes in this area.

Faced with common challenges such as increased costs and investments in various areas including operations, construction, and sustainability, the AUs have embarked on collaborative procurement as a strategic move to improve efficiency, reduce the cost of goods and services through demand aggregation, and provide additional business value. The collaborative procurement will allow the AUs to tap into existing or new period contracts, even those initiated by other AUs, thereby sharing benefits and best practices, and overcoming potential resource constraints.

The new MOU could potentially expand the procurement value amongst the AUs from the existing S$25 million to S$150 million. It is also set to broaden the categories of goods and services which could be procured, building upon existing contracts for laboratory services and products, to wider categories such as information technology and travel services.

Reflecting on various factors influencing operating costs for universities in the current economy, Mr Clarence Ti, NUS Deputy President (Administration), thanked the AUs for their collaboration, and said, “Procurement professionals have to work harder to not only find us ways to negotiate better prices, but also to help users rethink expenditure.”

“Indeed, the best procurement KPI is how much procurement we can design away,” he added.