29 July 2022

Supporting East Lothian's quest for commercial excellence

Scotland Excel was delighted to work with the council on its improvement programme

In 2019, East Lothian Council engaged Scotland Excel to support the organisation’s quest for commercial excellence.

The East Lothian Council Commercial Excellence and Procurement Improvement Programme started in 2019 for a period of two years.

Its objectives were to support the procurement function and assist with key challenges facing the council, while also developing commercial excellence.

A Scotland Excel Programme Manager was embedded into East Lothian Council to deliver the programme and give direct team management as acting Head of Procurement.

It was also an aspiration that successful programme delivery would serve as a strong foundation for longer term transformation within the council.

How Scotland Excel helped:

Over the course of the two-year programme, several key elements were delivered including:

• Review, develop & implement a strategic procurement service across ELC
Deliverables included an assessment and change in the procurement structure; a skills review was undertaken and a training programme identified and delivered; a formal performance review and development (PRD) process was implemented; and stakeholder interviews were completed across the organisation to help shape the overall direction of the improvement programme.

• Spend data review and contract optimisation
We introduced a quarterly reporting dashboard on key KPIs; improved knowledge of the local supply base in the East Lothian region; improved collaboration with other councils; and a contract review process that identified and delivered significant benefits for the council.

• Contract and supplier management (CSM)
The deliverables included introduction of a contract segmentation tool, process documents and enhanced tools to include CSM considerations; a review and change in procurement thresholds in the Scheme of Delegation; and bespoke training delivered to the team covering all aspects of CSM.

• Benefits tracking process
This included agreeing formal definitions of different benefit types and a tracking process being established to capture identified benefits through to delivery.

• Systems review
A review of existing systems highlighted a number of paper-based processes that have been digitised and now run electronically. Approval processes were also simplified.

Challenges and lessons learned:

The Covid-19 pandemic presented unique challenges to the delivery of the programme but this was mitigated by reviewing alternative forms of delivery that were more appropriate to the ever evolving situation. This included increased focus on business continuity and supply chain management. So it’s crucial to have a robust programme plan with clear objectives but to remain adaptable in the face of change.


The overall outcome is a more strategic, engaged and supported procurement function who have a key standing within the organisation.

In addition to this, £1.3m in savings has been delivered and further savings opportunities have been identified.

The programme established a strong foundation for longer term transformation within the organisation and Scotland Excel continues to work closely with East Lothian Council.