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New Buyers Forum will build relations with procurement professionals

Aimie Chapple, Accenture

London: UK consulting is a making a big effort to raise the quality of consulting procurement, as new research confirms the growing influence of procurement managers in buying consulting services.

Next month the UK Management Consultancies Association will formally launch its Consultancy Buyers Forum, and Aimie Chapple, current MCA president and managing director of Accenture in UK and Ireland, says that improving procurement is a top priority for her term in office.

The MCA says the Consultancy Buyers Forum has been created to provide support for buyers and clients of consulting services and encourage knowledge sharing and good practice with peers.

The Buyers Forum will have around 100 members representing the procurement groups of FTSE listed companies when it goes live in September. The Forum has already brought consultants and procurement professionals together through a series of Webinars.

Alan Leaman, chief executive of the MCA, says the Buyers Forum initiative is of strategic importance to the whole industry.

He says it is clear that consultants, procurement departments and end-user clients do not always understand one another.

"Our ambition through the Forum is to improve both the consultancy buying process and the perceived value of consulting to buyers", he says.

"Consulting needs an educated buyer — one sensitive to the value of outcomes, not just to cost", Aimie Chapple comments. She says it is vital that the industry engages with its clients in this debate.

The Buyers Forum looks well timed.

A new report from specialist research group Source Information Services, published today says that over two thirds (69 per cent) of procurement managers are now strongly influencing the purchasing decisions of large consulting projects — those worth more than €500,000.

But Source argues, for all the talk in recent years about procurement widening its remit, the report also found that whilst procurement managers are heavily involved in negotiating on contracts and fees, they disappear completely as soon as the project starts.

In fact, says Source, 80 per cent of procurement managers are rarely involved with assessing the performance of consultants during a project, a number that jumps to 86 per cent in respect of post-project involvement.

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