Procurement – how Jon Harvey sees us (and it ain’t good…!)

I enjoyed this piece from Jon Harvey about his experience of being on the receiving end of procurement processes, even though it made me laugh and wince at times as a member of the procurement profession!  His ironic guide for procurement people describes how we should:

"Make sure that the PQQ is at least 65 pages long with 367 separate items of information to gather".

He has obviously had some bad experiences, and I must say even with my more limited experience of bidding formally for work, I recognised much of this.  He provides organisational development consultancy, but finds that buyers often treat this service as a simple commodity - one of the points Fiona and I covered in our book, where the providers we interviewed put this pretty much top of their list of complaints.  As Harvey says,

"Many of the questions you use when sourcing (for example) office products, utility supplies and other bulk purchasing can be used with these consultants too."

He also describes buyers using a lottery to select which PQQs even get evaluated.  I assumed this was illegal (in the public sector) but on checking I believe it is allowable as long as you tell suppliers in the advert that you may do this.  It is, of course, truly appalling procurement practice even if it is legal....!

First Voice

  1. Florence Gregg:

    I understand that a lottery approach is starting to be used in some organisations. I’ve been told by other suppliers who’ve been through this approach, however I’ve not had personal experience, that when the PQQs are received if the CA’s intention is to bring through, say, 8 to tender; the CA randomly selects 8 PQQs and these are evaluated. If upon evaluation not all not meet the published minimum passmark, the CA goes back and selects a further 1, 2 or whatever number and repeats the process until it gets the required number of tenderers.
    I suppose as a micro business who sometimes tries to bid against the bigger consultancies, my PQQ being pulled ‘out of a hat’ could give me a better chance of getting through, than being ranked and falling just below the cut-off point. The odds, 40 PQQs and an intention to invite 8 to bid. My chances of getting selected (assuming I am capable of attaining the minimum score) is 8:40 – a 20% chance. Firm X, a bigger ‘usually always shortlisted’ has the same 20% chance of being selected; or, more interestingly, an 80% of not being selected – now that would be interesting!

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