4th May 2020

To our SUPC Members,

We spent much of the last couple of years having conversations about the many challenges facing the sector and how hard things already were – or were going to be. However, nothing compares to the challenges presented by Covid-19.  As we are all now in week seven of lock-down, we want to reassure you that your SUPC team are here to support you, as you need us.  While this is a longer message from me than usual, it is important.

We have chosen not to furlough our staff and are busier than ever working to support you.  We want to share the reasons for our decision-making with you.

We believe in responsible financial stewardship of your membership subscriptions and wider public funds.  Our business model has set us in good stead to continue operations during this time while maintaining appropriate financial reserves.  This is why we are now in the process of returning earned marketing premium from 2018/19 back to institutions; part of last year’s commitment to deliver value for money.  In all, SUPC is returning over £800k to members to use those resources as you require at this challenging time.

We recognise that in these unprecedented circumstances, when urgent procurement action is required, your teams, the HE sector and our wider communities will need more support.  We are here to respond to your new questions and concerns as always.  We are using insight from across our three divisions – SUPC, SUMS Consulting and the Procurement Shared Service – to develop ways to help procurement teams and universities realise critical efficiencies. For example, we worked on a recent procurement business case, identifying approximately £500k in recurring savings.  Working with other universities, we have identified millions of savings across other service/spend areas.  There are opportunities to be realised and we must not miss our chance.  The recently announced support measures from Government, while welcome, will only partially alleviate financial concerns for many universities.

We want to support essential national procurement activity. We are very proud of our Category Manager Dani Sweeney, who is part of a national task-force to coordinate sourcing PPE for the NHS from close to 10,000 suppliers.  Dani is managing a team of other volunteers, nationally, to ensure supplies meet NHS-required specifications.  Dani’s work is one part of wider coordinated sector activity being undertaken by university procurement departments across the UK.   Dani has been seconded full time since the start of the crisis to this Cabinet Office initiative. The rest of the team have stepped up to ensure Dani and members are supported.

We are investing in resource to support your institution over the weeks, months and years ahead.  We are pleased to welcome our new Business Intelligence Manager, who will work across the three SUMS divisions to build on our data analysis and insight capability.  We know data analysis will be important to help you identify efficiencies as every university will have to look at this as never before.  These efficiencies will be essential for universities to allow you to deliver important teaching and research activities in the years to come.

I hope you feel you can confidently rely on the team at SUPC and wider SUMS Group to support you.  We are in this together. If there is anything we can do, please get in touch.

Bernarde Hyde
CEO SUMS Group (SUPC, SUMS Consulting and PSS)