What are the top 5 key points to consider when MATs merge?

Whether your MAT is a fresh blossom or is merging with another to form one stronger unit, the importance of procurement cannot be understated.

When you combine your spending power, a lot of new avenues open that can benefit your procurement journey. Forming a new MAT or merging with one another is not an easy process. It is long and complicated, often leading to procurement contracts that were once two school’s priorities, falling to the wayside, while the merging process takes its toll.

Picking out the key strategic themes in mass procurement and making sure you are considering them in what is a turbulent time for your school or schools is difficult. So here are the five key points to keep in consideration when merging MATs.

Aligning Contracts

Aligning contracts is a vital task to do when merging MATs or forming a new MAT, ensuring that you do this as early as possible is key to maintaining a successful MAT. By aligning your contracts, you are collaborating with other schools that you are entering into a partnership with and sharing current contract details like renewal date and type of procurement being done.

By sharing this information, you can work together to streamline your set of contracts that covers a range of schools instead of four photocopying contracts across four schools for example.

Another good reason for doing this is that it allows you to think differently about whether you should renew that upcoming contract, maybe you would extend it for a shorter duration before combining it with another contract, maybe you would extend it for a longer period of time. It entirely depends on the forward process of your merger; you have the luxury of choosing instead of being rushed into renewal.

Collaborative Buying

After aligning your contracts, you will have a set of contracts laid out that will be able to show your collective procurement priorities. This is one of the biggest positives of being a MAT, you will have many new ways that you can buy together and make savings. By putting your experience together, you become a much more intelligent customer, one that knows exactly what products they need, knowing what exactly is in their current contracts and how to best go about sourcing those products from suppliers.

In collaborating buying power and becoming a more intelligent customer, you are also increasing your reach, simultaneously becoming a more important customer to suppliers because you will be looking for a lot more goods or services when compared to a lone school.

By becoming a more powerful buyer through collaborative buying, you’ll command more power with suppliers, you will know the exact specifications of your contracts because you’ve had to combine them with likeminded procurement experts in order to merge and become a MAT. By having combined buying power, you can talk with suppliers and ensure the key objectives of contracts are being delivered, make sure that you are aware of the pricing for your goods and services.

Contract Management

Following on from collaborative buying, is ensuring your contract management is upheld to a high standard. You have more buying power, and you are more desirable to suppliers, don’t let them take advantage of you!

When procuring, look at the anticipated spend on that contract, when talking with suppliers, could they give you some more competitive pricing? It’s worth having that discussion. Contract management is more about making sure suppliers feel that they know you have a good understanding of your contract. If you are able to make them aware that you know the exact objectives of vital contracts are, such as:

  • What they should be delivering
  • Your Service Level Agreements
  • Your Key Performance Indicators

Being keenly aware of these three factors is vital when opening a dialogue with suppliers, especially when you are a recently formed MAT, they’ll want to know if your expertise and knowledge can be trusted before they commit to you for any amount of time.

Another way you can take control of your contract management is through taking ownership of contract management meetings.

Set them well in advance – we recommend about 12 months of set meetings – to ensure all required attendees know well in advance when they need to meet and what their contributions should be. Set the agenda for those meetings, make sure you are taking the minutes and notes. Often it is suppliers that are happy to take the lead on these tasks and set actions during big meetings, but it is vital that you take control of this and drive the supplier, not the supplier driving you in meetings.

Working Together

Most importantly though contract management is about balancing responsibilities between you, your supplier and your now, much bigger, procurement team. Share good practices, develop together and bring your expertise together. Working together is the main reason why MATs are successful, the benefits gained from collective buying power and information sharing outweigh many of the negatives.

We understand that it can be a difficult process, going from working on your own, focusing on your own school, to becoming part of a bigger picture. Initially, adjusting to this can be difficult but through sharing knowledge and good practice as previously mentioned, you will find that you will all have different ways of tackling problems, some of which you may find save your original school money in ways you hadn’t first thought of.

Overcoming any working issues with your new, bigger team is something that needs to be done early on in the merger process to begin with, but ensuring you have a positive working environment with your team is a consistent effort. Listen to one another, bounce ideas off each other and tackle problems head on the moment they arise.

From this, not only will your newly formed MAT benefit, but your contracts will too!

The final key point to consider is a piece of software, a Contracts Register.

Contracts Register

With aligning contracts being so important, we found that the best companion to enable you to do that effectively (also, when forming a MAT) is a contracts register. So, what is a contracts register?

A contracts register is a piece of software that holds all of your contracts – across all of your schools – in one place. It will keep you informed with information such as:

  • Contract start and end dates
  • Termination information
  • When a contract is up for renewal
  • Allow benchmarking
  • Provide an auditable record of your contracts

By setting up the contract register through inputting your contract information into a secure system, you will quickly be able to rely on it to provide you updates on your most important contracts. You will also be able to use the software as a way to quickly share important contract information to stakeholders or other members of the MAT if and when they need it.

In doing so, you set up and plan your procurement years in advance. Saving yourself many future headaches!

Education Buying offers a contract register that can enable a ‘MAT view’. This gives you an overview of your entire MAT, which you can then split off to each individual school under your control underneath.

So, if you would like to make use of it and see how much it can help your MAT in the long run, contact us and we can give you a free demonstration. Never miss an opportunity to save and maximise the value of your contracts with our free contracts register.