After a swift change of plans due to coronavirus (COVID-19), we’re pleased to report our first North East, Yorkshire and Humber Skills Academy event, hosted virtually, was a success.

Prior to the COVID-19 emergency, our regional team for the North East, Yorkshire and Humber, led by David Bemrose, were exploring different ways of engaging with customers across the region to improve Crown Commercial Service’s (CCS) presence and to better support their needs.

After identifying a number of key customer stakeholders, we began to develop a new programme with them to establish regional networks and harness and build a series of learning and development opportunities. Phil Hodgson, strategic business manager for the region, set up a customer board to help us develop appropriate and valuable topics for discussion, with sessions which would benefit the public and third sector community across the region. 

The first of these sessions were scheduled to take place in 2 venues in Leeds and Newcastle, delivered by our partner colleagues at DAC Beachcroft. We were delighted at the time that both sessions were fully subscribed – only to then hit the lockdown, meaning the postponement of both of the sessions.

Getting innovative during lockdown

Not to be defeated though, the regional team and customer board started to explore alternative options using the available technology to plan for virtual engagement events that could maintain customer engagement through the period of disruption.

Working with our colleagues in CCS and DAC Beachcroft, we created a session titled ‘What contract changes are permitted by procurement law’ which took place on 28 May. This focused on Procurement Policy Note (PPN) guidance and Regulation 72 aspects and was a timely subject given the current pandemic.

The result

We were astounded by the response we received from customers in the region, reaching the maximum number of virtual delegates within 72 hours of releasing the event, showing us that we had selected a key topic of interest for customers.

We have already had some great customer feedback from both of these events. 

Stacey Speakman, Senior Category Manager at North Yorkshire Council said:

The feedback has been really positive on the recent regional skills academy webinar. The team have been attending various webinars recently which have all mainly been a glorified sales pitch for products or services, whereas this one they will be able to apply the knowledge and importantly use it in this current time!

Get involved

If your organisation is based in the North East, Yorkshire and Humber region and you’re interested in attending upcoming Skills Academy events focused on ‘How to identify and manage risks in IT procurement’ please contact David Bemrose at david.bemrose@crowncommercial.gov.uk for more information.

How we can help you

This is just one example of the type of work we are doing with many customers across the UK. If you are not part of such a group and would like to discuss establishing or joining a group in your region to support local recovery, please get in touch with your regional lead: