Better procurement – a simple tip

Here is a cast iron tip to improve procurement process and performance. I guarantee (or your money back) this will work. And please note - it may seem obvious but my feeling is this doesn't happen as often as it should.

Before you send out an tender, RFx, PQQ or similar document, electronic or otherwise, to potential suppliers, get someone who isn’t in procurement, or involved with the specific procurement, to have a look at it.

They need to be a sensible and reasonably smart business person, but they don’t need to be in procurement or sales for that matter. Ask them to read it as if they were a supplier thinking of responding, and then tell you whether it makes sense. Get them to tell you:

·         Are they clear what it is they have to do to respond?

·         Are there any specific questions where it isn’t clear how they should answer or what is being required of them?

·         Is there anything where they think, “why on earth are they asking me that”?

·         And, if you are public sector (or indeed simply follow what is arguably good practice anywhere), do they understand how their response is going to be evaluated?

That sense check can be so valuable. It’s easy for procurement people, or whoever is working on the documentation, to get just too close to the whole exercise and lose sight of what the final product looks like to an outsider.  With my consulting hat on, where I still do work both buyer side and supplier side (not on the same bid of course),  I still see too many tenders that simply don’t  make it easy for the bidder, have sections that don’t seem to link up or questions that don’t relate clearly to evaluation criteria or to the overall aim of the exercise.

Most of these I’m sure could have been identified by getting a sensible person to look carefully at it before it was send to the market. And that would save clarification questions from suppliers, encourage the right bidders to respond, save time in evaluation, and maybe even reduce the likelihood of challenge or failure of the process.

Voices (2)

  1. Charles Eddolls:

    Hi Peter I agree with you on this one but it does remind me of the outrage when a leading public sector authority advertised for a head of procurement stating that candidates need not have any procurement history. It strikes me that a fresh look at any problem can bring forward new ideas.

  2. Tony Lockwood:

    I agree with your thought that this doesn’t happen frequently enough. All too often documents are issued that are meaningless to the potential tenderers, or are so restrictive as to prevent the tenderer from being able to demonstrate their points of differentiation.

    Always put yourself into the shoes of the respondent before pressing te ‘send’ button

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