The Task

Southeastern Railway (SER) were seeking support in understanding the areas of existing good practice and gaps in their sustainable procurement performance across their business. SER have previously embedded the Go-Ahead Charter, and are now in the process of developing a new Sustainable Procurement Policy and Supply Chain Charter.

There was a need for an in-depth and objective review of their performance in sustainable procurement with wide internal stakeholder involvement and prioritised actions necessary to drive change forward. Action Sustainability’s assessment, and the findings and recommendations of the subsequent report, will help SER bridge the gaps to ensure the golden thread methodology is followed. This will allow procurement to fully embed the new policy and charter into its process, and strengthen areas where the gaps lie.

The Action

Action Sustainability undertook a desktop review of documents and conducted interviews with relevant staff across various functions and departments from SER to produce a report based on the findings and put forth recommendations for areas of improvement.

The first phase of the evaluation involved reviewing SER’s documentation such as policies, strategies, tender procedures (PQQ & ITT documents) and example tender exercises recently undertaken.

The second part of our process involved a series of one-to-one interviews around sustainability, sustainable procurement, and contract management with key people from SER’s business, at different levels and in different roles, all with an influence on spend. The interviews were based on the key elements of the ISO 20400 standard – Fundamentals, Policy & Strategy, Enablers and Process. Through our discussions, we were able to explore how sustainability objectives are effectively deployed through procurement.

The Outcome, Benefits, and lessons learnt

The analysis provided confidence to SER to align its processes and approach to ISO 20400 as there are plenty examples of good practice with the key elements of Fundamentals, Policy, and Strategy being strong. The Go-Ahead charter was well embedded in the procurement process and forms the basis for procurement activity – risk assessment, tender decisions, supplier selection. The new charter and policy being developed will follow this approach.

SER’s approach to sustainable procurement was assessed as being ‘mature’ with procurement staff being consistent and committed to achieving sustainable solutions via their process. The evaluation results gave SER an action plan of activities to do, as well as the timescales and complexities in carrying them out to reach their sustainability goals.

The recommendations will bring about alignment of the procurement process with organisational goals, sustainable and innovative solutions, and prioritisation of opportunities. This also includes assessing risks to inform the procurement strategies, better supply chain relationships through supplier performance and contract management. The ISO 20400 Standard is an ideal platform to use to assess and then improve your procurement, supply chain management and sustainability outcomes.