Students acquired new perspectives on procurement2020-01-22
The issue of procurement is important in terms of making space for new welfare innovations. In a workshop at Karlstad University, DigitalWell process managers inspired students to procure digital solutions for a healthier working environment.
The workshop, a component included in the course Acquisition of Information Systems, was offered to students in the IT Design and Web Developer programmes. DigitalWell process managers Marika Martin and Malthe Vesström had created exercises for the students, who were asked to formulate specifications for a digital solution that promoted physical activity in a workplace to prevent ill health, based on a given scenario.
"Procurement for the Swedish public sector alone amounted to SEK 683 billion in 2016. This is a substantial sum of money that can be used to influence society in a more sustainable and healthy direction. For this reason, raising awareness early on among students regarding procurement as a means to promote innovation for a healthier society is an important long-term effort," says Malthe Vesström, a process manager for DigitalWell.
DigitalWell focuses on creating digital solutions that correspond to the welfare challenges faced by the public sector. But the development of innovative, creative, and user-friendly services for a future health society also depends on how regulated the procurement process is.
"Open specifications in a procurement process mean greater potential for innovation and new ideas," says Marika Martin, a process manager for DigitalWell.
A procurement expert took part
Linda Bergkvist, a Senior Lecturer in Information Systems, is the course coordinator and also one of the researchers active in DigitalWell. In the past, business sector and public sector representatives have been involved in the component focused on procurement. The workshop setup, where students identified specifications for a digital service for increased physical activity and then considered the consequences of those specifications for procurement, was new this year.
"On the whole, the students appreciated this model, and several students said they found it stimulating and worthwhile to work with a concrete procurement case," says Linda Bergkvist.
Fredrik Persson Jonhed, a purchaser at Karlstad University, also participated in the workshop to contribute expertise and function as a sounding board. One recurring recommendation was not to focus too much on solutions in the procurement process, but instead formulate specifications in relation to needs and desired effects – in this case, improved health and reduced absence from work due to illness.
"Having an expert at hand for the workshop turned out to be a great success, especially since it allowed the students to receive instant feedback on questions related to procurement and concrete advice about procedure," says Linda Bergkvist.
The regional EU project DigitalWell is a collaboration between Compare, the municipality of Karlstad, Region Värmland, Karlstad University, Dalarna County Council, Region Dalarna, Friskvård i Värmland (Health and Fitness in Värmland), Almi, and Tieto. The project runs between 2017 and 2019.