More on the prison food procurement process

We had a couple of very interesting comments on last week's post about the Prison Service procurement of food.

'Flog' pointed out that the Prison Service is still embroiled in a legal challenge relating to a previous food tender; was this perhaps a reason for their choosing to use the Competitive Dialogue process?  (Although in my experience that doesn't by any means make challenge less likely)!  If you're into public procurement, it's worth reading the court papers here about the case; some noteworthy points.

And Sourcing Sensei then brilliantly linked the Prison Service tender with advanced sourcing / optimisation strategy (and don't forget our White Paper on that topic, now available for download here).

Sourcing Sensei wishes to remain anonymous, but I do know that he is a genuine, cast-iron procurement technology expert with one of the worlds most successful companies, and one that has led the way in use of advanced sourcing for some years. I'll repeat his comments pretty much in full here because they're really important; I hope smart people in the public sector are looking at how they can make better use of technology, because there are some real opportunities here for better value, and opening up markets to smaller firms, as he points out.

" One of the interesting points here is the lack of flexibility the MoJ are going to get by not breaking this tender up more than the three category groups...  Anyway one of the greatest advantages the MoJ have with the eSourcing tool they are using (Emptoris) is the very advanced Optimisation functionality that tool has.  Again for anyone with a good working knowledge of that element of the tool will know that you gather as much information as you can, breaking it down into reasonably small pieces and then allow the Optimisation functionality to drive a myriad of analysed outcomes.

Yes, that means time taken creating the Optimisation Scenarios but the potential to create fantastic results in savings far outweighs the work taken “up front”.  And here is another piece of “food for thought”. I have been involved in eSourcing for over 13 years, from the days when such technology was in its infancy and nothing much more than a glorified spreadsheet. I have seen events transition into huge regional, continental or global tenders - done that way so often because the tools are now technically capable of allowing the buyer to run events that size, and it “saves time” to get it all out there at once.

However I believe this has begun to reduce the competitiveness of many of these events as suppliers are either limited because of their capability to service such a large tender, or it reduces focus because they have so much to respond to or sort through, and it increases dramatically the time they need to effectively respond to such an event.

I am not saying you never do “large” events, but I am working with teams at placing more effort and time into the “lotting” strategy or actual event size,  so that you can allow in some cases for a greater range of suppliers to participate – yes those “local” guys who just may be able to rpovide the same as the muti-national but are more likely to value your business and provide you greater service. You can allow suppliers to focus on particular areas where they can service your requirements and reduce the amount of time they have to spend.

It may come as a surprise (shock horror) but yours is not the only tender the supplier is participating in, but make yours more streamlined or attractive than another tender and the supplier is more likely to take the time to respond to your event.

To the MoJ team (some of whom I know) my message is – crap in then crap out – (not good when you are talking a food contract) – if the event build is not right the event result will not be either".


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Voices (2)

  1. HedgeTrimmer:

    Right on SS…see my earlier comment on the stationery tender

    1. HedgeTrimmer:

      Sorry didn’t mean to be demeaning…I meant Office Supplies

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