04 Feb 2020 - By
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The launch of Scotland’s fourth National Planning Framework (NPF4)

Planning for Scotland’s fourth National Planning Framework (NPF4) is officially under way. In early January 2020, the Scottish Government announced NPF4 is in the pre-early engagement stage and called a wide range of stakeholders to help plan for Scotland’s future up to 2050.

NPF4 is a long-term development plan, which seeks to plan what Scotland will look like in 2050. The launch of NPF4 is significant, because for the first time spatial and thematic planning policies will be addressed in one place, and stakeholders from all sectors, industries and specialisms are invited to have their say.

This planning framework, in its very nature, is about shaping the future of Scotland. Therefore the space for early engagement is not limited to buyers and suppliers, but is being opened to a wider audience of people who want to influence the development of their local area or Scotland as a whole. This includes a range of stakeholders in the public and private sector, as well as organisations involved in communities, voluntary work, charities, academics and professional bodies, all of whom have been invited to share their thoughts and outline their priorities for the coming decades.

This is not conventional early engagement in the usual sense, which is focused on a particular procurement and takes place before a tender is published but when a project is fast approaching. This is planning for the long term, for all aspects, developing the relationship between government, procurement and business. Arguably early engagement is more necessary in NPF4 than ever before.

The timeframe of NPF4

The government has described this initial stage of the NPF4 process as a ‘Call for Ideas’. As part of the planning framework process, the call for ideas will consist of intensive early engagement to seek views on the scope and content of what will become NPF4. This will take place from January to March 2020. Over summer 2020, time will be allocated for reflection on the early engagement suggestions, in order to start preparing the first draft NPF4. This is planned to be submitted to the Scottish Parliament for consultation around September 2020, with the aim of presenting the final version in the Scottish Parliament in 2021.

How organisations can get involved

The ‘Call for Ideas’ stage of the NPF4 is now open for all organisations to share their views, if they wish to, by answering the following five questions in relation to their business interests:

  • What development will we need to address climate change?
  • How can planning best support our quality of life, health and wellbeing in the future?
  • What does planning need to do to enable development and investment in our economy to benefit everyone?
  • How can planning improve, protect and strengthen the special character of our places?
  • What infrastructure do we need to plan and build to realise our long term aspirations?

The Scottish Government has stated that detailed answers are not required when answering these questions. They are only guidelines to stimulate further debate on the key issues that will frame NPF4.

If your organisation wishes to get involved in the early engagement stage of NPF4, you should submit your responses soon as the call for ideas closes at the end of March. It is worth noting that the responses gathered over the next two months will influence the shape of Scotland over the next thirty years, and consequently will shape procurement for many years to come. Responses received will help the Scottish Government formulate its vision for the future of Scotland.

In addition to submitting responses, organisations can have their say at the NPF4 Scotplan 2050 Roadshow. The objective of this event is to hold workshop sessions in 20 locations across Scotland, where suppliers, buyers and other stakeholders will be able to engage with the Scottish Government in setting plans for Scotland’s future. This element is another aspect of early engagement, which is similar to ‘Meet the supplier’ engagement events held by leading suppliers in the defence industry, including the MOD.

The wider context of the importance of early engagement

In recent years, early engagement has been considered a hugely successful strategy for businesses operating in procurement. Early engagement provides a space for prospecting suppliers and buyers to hold important conversations about project specifications. It not only provides an opportunity for networking and building relationships in the defence industry, but early engagement helps to explore potential problems in the contract and discuss alternative ways it can be achieved. In this sense, early engagement supports innovation and sustainability, because it ensures all problems have been discovered before a supplier has started work. From a supplier’s perspective, it makes the time spent applying for the tender worthwhile.

The launch of NPF4 serves to highlight the value of early engagement on a much wider scale. The process and tools used in conventional early engagement will be invaluable to the Scottish Government’s writing of NPF4 in the drafts and final version to come. Engagement and discussion with the Scottish Government and other stakeholders will help to shape the vision for Scotland in 2050 that will be set out in NPF4.

Over the next three decades, NPF4, in turn, will drive billions of pounds of opportunities across all industries in procurement, including major developments in defence. Early engagement principles will be also be applied to each of these opportunities, creating a productive path in Scottish procurement for the future.

Once NPF4 is finalised, it is inevitable that the Planning Framework will generate a wide range of diverse procurement opportunities. Early engagement helps you to build networks, strengthen relationships, understand the context of the contract as well as the specifications, and tailor your response to suit the business needs.

How DCI can help your early engagement

DCI hosts a wide variety of powerful tools run by a wealth of market data. Its features drive the benefits of early engagement, making more effective and productive defence procurement for everyone.

  • Market Leads and Commercial Projects: Be provided with named contacts and contact details for networking across both the private and public sector. This gets the tender process off to a fantastic start, as you have access to the key decision makers on tenders.
  • Market Leads: Gain advance notification of upcoming framework renewals and recurring projects.
  • Archive data: Understand previous requirements on tenders, with five years of minimum historic data included as standard in each Tracker package. This includes discovering whether your competitors have won business with certain buyers before, uncovering new competitors within your field and identifying sub-contracting opportunities.
  • Spend analysis: Identifying buyer spend patterns, including what they are buying and from.

Experience how DCI can put your business on the path to success in winning defence tenders.

Read more about the future public procurement landscape in our blog post Procurement In 2020: What Happens Next?