1. Seek help
Procurement regulations can be a minefield. This is why there are a number of resources to help you through the process. Ensure that you have up-to-date templates in place and that you adhere to current process rules and regulations. Talk to your organisation’s procurement specialists and leverage from their knowledge and expertise.Across Government for example, there is a knowledge bank available to procurement project managers, such as the NSW Government ProcurePointwebsite, which contains a wealth of information, including a Self Help Tool and a direct Procurement Service Centre.
2. Take the time to develop a procurement strategy
Rather than jump straight into developing a specification for a tender, take the time to develop an appropriate procurement strategy.Look at the options and scope the alternatives.It may be important to release an expression of interest, or a request for quote rather than a tender.Map out the most appropriate pathway based on the organisational guidelines and the estimated spend. A tender process is a costly and time consuming process which may not be required.Look at all the panels and current contracts already in place with similar organisations or agencies. In many cases there is an opportunity to ‘piggy back’ off existing arrangements saving time and money.
3. Engage with the market in an open-minded and professional manner
In order to get a true sense of market opportunities, it is important to engage broadly across a range of providers.Even in a mature market place, opportunities may exist that you are unaware of; there are always new or evolving suppliers with new ideas and solutions who are looking for opportunities and may be able to add enormous value to your project. Similarly, do not approach a procurement process with a rigidly-defined expectation of outcomes. Be open-minded. Often the best solution to a problem is the one that you did not expect. So, don’t just talk to the same old suppliers!
4. Good governance
Procurement processes often suffer from extended delays, which increases costs and impedes broader business outcomes. This is often the result of convoluted governance. Many projects go off track due to oversized evaluation teams, too many levels of approval or excessive oversight. An evaluation team of twelve or more people is absolute overkill and your project is doomed to suffer delays.Some simple rules of thumb are:
Keep evaluation teams manageable with 3-5 members, and use Subject Matter Experts to advise during the process if required.
Use Steering Committees only where there are strategic implications broader than the project – not for risk avoidance.
Be informed about lines of approval and delegated authority, and allow time for this in your planning. Senior executives need time to review documents and can’t be expected to turn things around on the spot.
Schedule meetings early and ensure that there is commitment to attend from all evaluation team members.
5. Communication is a two way street
Although communication needs to be managed appropriately and transparently throughout a procurement process don’t be afraid to communicate with suppliers. Establish open, clear and effective lines of communication to address questions and clarifications promptly.The better suppliers understand the brief during this process, the better positioned they are to respond to your needs. Although requirements may be spelt out in the tender documents, talking these through is extremely beneficial.