5 common misconceptions…

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

…about Commerce Decisions and AWARD®, and why they’re wrong…

We recently ran a session with our global sales and marketing team about the misconceptions they sometimes encounter from procurement teams during early stage conversations. Below we discuss the most common of these and address them head on.

1. ‘We aren’t big enough to work with you.’

The UK Ministry of Defence, NHS England, Infrastructure Ontario and Australia’s Department of Defence, to name just a few: whilst our list of customers includes some of the biggest regulated government departments across the globe, we have hundreds of smaller clients too. Over the past 20 years, we’ve done our research into the key procurement challenges faced by an evolving market, ensuring that we’re providing the support our customers need, regardless of their size.

Our solutions are here to eliminate the risks you face when conducting complex procurements, from achieving value for money, to creating a robust audit trail and protecting your decisions from legal challenge. Having engaged with organisations of all sizes, these challenges are all too common, and we’re here to help you address them.

We’ve developed our solutions to be flexible and scalable according to the project, programme or organisation at hand. It’s not about the size of your organisation or volume of spend, but the importance of your project both politically and strategically, and how much you’re willing to risk it going wrong. Our solutions don’t need to be used across every single one of your projects, they’re here for those strategically important projects that carry the most risk, and most likely, consume most of your budget. We can provide single project packages through to enterprise integrated solutions. We can even just provide a workshop on the challenges of complex evaluation and common pitfalls so that client teams are better prepared for future important projects.

2. ‘We only need a software solution.’

This initial comment is a common one for our team to hear. Whilst many of our clients use our software on a self-serve basis, following initial training, others also take full advantage of our entire offering. Our key service capabilities aligned to the AWARD® software provide a holistic approach to deliver best possible outcomes. Each of our service offerings are borne from our 20 years’ experience in the marketplace and are there to impart the very latest in best practice thought-leadership. The services deliver a lot of the work upfront, during your planning and preparation stages, adding value and expertise in a way that software alone cannot. The importance of doing this work upfront should not be underestimated – it mitigates risk and sets you up for best possible outcomes.

Beginning with the end in mind is a key pillar from which Commerce Decisions’ solutions are always driven – we have a deep appreciation and real passion for the science of evaluation and supporting our clients to achieve the best possible outcome. With this in mind our services have evolved to include a number of one-off workshops, bespoke training solutions through to full managed service solutions, so there really is a service that suits all client and budget types. We have even categorised these packages into 3 neat engagement types: AWARD® Pro, Plus and Premium.

As an example, Real Value for Money (RVfM), one of our most requested services, was developed as an alternative to common procurement techniques for achieving value for money. We recognised that many of these traditional methods are flawed and can introduce unanticipated effects, drastically affecting the success of your project. RVfM is embedded into our software and you can opt to use it on your own (following initial training – AWARD® Plus), or use our services to support you (AWARD® Premium) – whichever works best for you and your project. 

3. ‘Introducing your solutions will be too disruptive to our current process.’

Changing existing processes can be daunting – it can often feel like a case of ‘better the devil you know’. But AWARD® doesn’t change everything you do; it streamlines and creates efficiencies to improve what you’re already doing. We work with teams to understand their current approach so we can support, improve and enhance your way of working – think evolution as opposed to revolution. For a small amount of additional work upfront, the benefits and time savings down the line far outweigh any perceived upheaval – this is reflected by our 96% client retention rate.

One example of this, whilst against tight timelines, the Olympic Delivery Authority found that switching to AWARD® saved considerable time and costs compared to using a traditional bespoke system. Within just a few weeks, AWARD® was in place and went on to efficiently support the delivery of 470+ procurement projects involving over 4,600 suppliers and over 1,000 evaluators. This quick turnaround wouldn’t have been possible without deviating from their usual process.

Similarly, we helped Infrastructure Ontario to increase project efficiency by 15% on one of their billion-dollar projects, by providing a single environment in which the whole procurement evaluation phase could be managed.

We’ve also made AWARD® incredibly quick to set up, for minimal disruption. As a SaaS, there are no infrastructure costs, the software is very intuitive and we offer a range of training courses to support users, along with tailored packages of Pro, Plus and Premium for optimum ROI. Evaluators can be trained in house in under an hour to start evaluating your bids. On a recent UK defence tender for a £50million construction project, AWARD® was implemented and the project team was up and running ready for their ITN release within just 48 hours.

4. ‘We’re already using a spreadsheet.’

Spreadsheets can be incredibly useful and are proven to be relatively effective in delivering simple tender evaluations. If there are a small number of evaluators and just a few documents to manage, then it remains the simplest approach, even to those offered by full suite sourcing tools. But when you have a more complicated procurement to manage, it shouldn’t be a spreadsheet you turn to.

This was the understanding one of our NHS Trust customers came to – a cumbersome spreadsheet-based process was causing concerns over the risk of errors. At each stage of the procurement process there was a huge amount of information to record and interrogate. By switching to AWARD®, the data could be securely stored in a structured way and accessed whenever it was required, and the risk of error was greatly diminished. The Trust would have found this very difficult using the previous spreadsheet-based approach.

In a recent sample of tender evaluation spreadsheets, 99% had some form of error. Errors can not only mislead you as to who the best supplier is, but also leave your decision open to unwanted challenge, and without a clear audit trail to defend your decision.

The most common cause of spreadsheet error at evaluation stage lies in the management of the pricing calculations and data. Strategic procurements typically deal with a huge volume of complex data, aggregating pricing from multiple suppliers in order to effectively compare the possible outcomes. One small mistake can drastically affect the decision – by using spreadsheets for an evaluation, teams risk exposing their projects to a host of errors.

AWARD® is specifically designed to support complex evaluations and de-risk the process. The risks of getting it wrong can be huge – from wasting a huge chunk of your budget on an unsuitable supplier, to facing legal challenge. Why take the risk?

5. ‘We’re already using an eSourcing tool.’

You are? Great! We work alongside eSourcing tools to support the more complex evaluation projects you manage. AWARD® provides a complementary offering to work alongside end-to-end systems such as Jaggaer, Proactis and BIP Solutions – it’s how many of our global clients work with us. eSourcing is used for the day to day, and AWARD® supports on the higher risk, complex, strategic projects. These typically account for 10-20% of projects an organisation will run in a year, but amount to 80-90% of the department’s budget. Through early engagement we help shape the use of the solutions to ensure you’re using the right tool for the right project, and it’s easy to transition between tools depending on the project at hand.

AWARD® provides a much more in-depth focus on evaluation than eSourcing tools, including a rich collaborative capability, a robust process for establishing and achieving real value for money, criteria and requirements capture, and automatic debrief reports. The solution is totally complementary to all existing tools and software.

Whilst this article lists some of the initial misconceptions we sometimes hear, these are quickly countered by the benefits AWARD® brings, from enabling remote collaboration, secure data storage, achieving value for money and saving time, to generating a robust audit trail.

It’s important to clarify how we work, what we do and the benefits we bring. From my (almost) 17 years with Commerce Decisions, many of the people I have met to talk through our proposition have said to me:

‘I didn’t realise there was such a solution.’

‘We could have benefitted from using AWARD® on my last complex project.’

‘I didn’t realise you did all these other things.’

‘I’ve been told you are expensive but the ROI for our project really stacks up.’

And so, with this in mind, if you’d like to schedule a no obligation 45 minute chat to talk through our company and proposition, please do let us know. Like many others, you may be surprised as to how much we can help. And we promise it won’t be a sales pitch, but further explanation and insights.

Alternatively, if you have any questions on the above, or your own query about how AWARD® can fit with your current processes and projects, please get in touch with the team below.