Procurement Horror Story: Sometimes One Just Has to Do Everything All Over Again

This was a government sector tender in the UK a while back. I should stress I was only peripherally involved, and my desire to emphasise that is for reasons that will become obvious...

The buyer issued an open advertisement for the multi-million pound contract, as the public sector rules require. Firms responded, and were sent a pre-qualification questionnaire. A number of firms completed and submitted that, and a few weeks later three firms were told that they had been selected to receive the Initiation to Tender.

This was distributed, and after a few weeks, those suppliers submitted their tenders. All was going well. A detailed evaluation was undertaken, and a winning bidder selected. Everyone was happy that the process had gone well and a good supplier had been chosen.

And then, just before the announcement, the buyer received a phone call. It was a company, asking when they might be receiving the pre-qualification document. They were a bit surprised not to have heard anything, they said, as it was several months now since they'd expressed interest, having seen the advertisement...

A quick check showed that yes, an email had been received from them stating a desire to participate in the competition. It had simply been lost, forgotten, or overlooked by the stressed buyer. Clearly, the award of the contract couldn't go ahead, without breaking every procurement regulation in the book! So, after several wasted months and considerable cost and effort... the procurement was started again.

Two learning points for all of us. Great strategic sourcing thinking and approaches are wonderful, but we have to get the detail right as well to succeed in procurement. And eSourcing systems (which this buyer didn't have) bring a number of benefits - a clear audit trail and project management path being amongst them! This would not have happened had the buyer been using such a platform, I'm sure.


The Procurement Horror Story contest closes at 5:00 p.m. Central time October 29, 2013, so get your entry in! We currently have a forerunner... but otherwise our lips are shut. 

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