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Digital Subscriptions > Cities Today > July 2018 > Start small, scale up fast

Start small, scale up fast

Many cities are struggling to implement smart procurement practices but a new report published by the European Commission provides valuable guidance on to how to proceed.
SMEs considered for contracts often face destablising bureacracy
Photo: Dreamstime

On 15 May 2018, the European Commission released a paper entitled Guidance on Innovation Procurement, which builds a business case for public buyers seeking better ways to contract with urban solutions providers.

Procurement has long been considered anathema to innovation. Only in recent years has best practice theory shifted from the traditional model of selling widgets to servicing cities’ complex needs. Such needs are often interpreted through the catch-all SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and cloud), for which vendors increasingly supply regular services rather than goods. It is this shift alone that has produced of late the concept of procurement ‘As a Service’, rather than merely as products purchased.

Public buyers are under increasing pressure to spend budgets wisely, and while forward-thinking strategies can help stretch limited resources over multiple competing targets, inter-connectivity empowers an informed public to probe deeper into exactly how much of their taxes are being spent and to what end. Social and environmental standards are also included into peoples’ assessment of overall cost-efficiency and to deliver on what the public wants, it is the buying method, not just the receipt of purchase, for which cities are accountable.

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