Complex Procurement Project Planning Checklist

5 things you should be doing

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

Managing a complex procurement is challenging, but there are a few things you can do from the get-go to make your job easier. We’ve always advised that upfront planning reduces risk and makes for a smoother process, as well as delivering better project outcomes.

So what exactly should you be doing at the very start of your complex procurement activities, when you’re engaging with the market, interacting with suppliers and bidders as well as internal and external stakeholders?

You’ll have competing priorities to balance, including the need to manage stakeholder expectations, ensure compliance with regulations, and establish a robust and transparent process for doing so.

We’ve shared our early procurement planning checklist below – 5 things you can do to make your job that bit easier and ensure the evaluation goes as smoothly as possible:

1. Enable Collaboration

Collaboration is key to the success of any project – it helps build relationships and leverage skills and perspectives to achieve better results than you could individually.

However, the more suppliers and stakeholders involved, the more challenging it can be to achieve effective collaboration, keep everyone on the same page, and ensure they feel heard. Plus, how do you ensure different stakeholders can easily access different information? You likely don’t want everyone to see everything…

You need to be able to keep on top of the communications taking place, and the complexity and volumes of data involved. If you’re not using the right tool, you likely have documents and communications sitting in different platforms or systems that you need to keep on top of.

Another grey area is document version control. Without proper version control, it can be easy for someone to accidentally work on an outdated version of a document, leading to confusion and potentially costly mistakes.

If you can use a single tool for this phase of your project (AWARD® Plan), collaboration becomes a whole lot easier. You can have one secure environment to store and share project documentation in real-time with users, whose access levels you can easily control. Plus, if all communications are going through that same tool, and throughout your procurement from beginning to end, they are much easier to keep track of.

Effective collaboration during the market engagement phase of your project enables you to:

  • Gain a better understanding of the market with valuable insights into market trends, emerging technologies and other impacting factors.
  • Identify and mitigate risks such as supply chain disruptions or quality issues, so you can minimise the likelihood of costly delays and project setbacks.
  • Foster innovation via new ideas and innovative solutions to any challenges.
  • Gather stakeholder input and buy-in.

2. Secure your data

When managing complex procurement projects, ensuring the security of your data is paramount. In today’s digital landscape, where cyber threats and data breaches are on the rise, safeguarding your sensitive information is more important than ever. You need to have measures in place to maintain data security, prevent unauthorised access, and to ensure you comply with data protection and privacy regulations and standards.

Whilst running your projects, you face the challenge of protecting valuable data while collaborating with multiple stakeholders and often managing various platforms. It can be a daunting task to maintain control over these communications, data volumes, and document versions without a centralised and secure solution. If your data is stored across emails, spreadsheets and other tools/systems, how do you ensure its fully secure and protected at every point? The truth is, you can’t.

That’s where a robust procurement software solution can make all the difference. By utilising an advanced tool like AWARD®, you can address these data security challenges effectively.

By having robust data security in place, you can:

  • Have peace of mind that you are working within a secure and resilient environment, so you can focus on the procurement itself
  • Confidently share documents and communicate back and forth with all stakeholders without fear of unwanted access or theft
  • Be empowered to take control and streamline the management of your project data
  • Ensure that only authorised individuals have access to sensitive information. This helps maintain the integrity and confidentiality of your data

AWARD® Dataroom, part of the AWARD® Plan capability, solves the challenges of protecting sensitive information. It provides a resilient cloud data environment for the storage and sharing of data with both internal and external users. It enables you to securely share data back and forth, including Official Sensitive information, without compromising on security. Find out more here.

3. Stay in control

As a procurement manager, you need full control over access levels for internal and external stakeholders to ensure transparency and track progress. You need to have a firm grip on your project, data and suppliers to enable efficient and effective operations, and to drive success. Particularly with a complex procurement, there is a lot at stake and both your role and the project you are running are hugely accountable.

With a lot of steps involved, many stakeholders and so much data, you have a lot to be in control of at any given point. By taking control of your procurement project from the very start, you can maintain transparency and accountability throughout the entire process. This helps build trust among bidders and stakeholders and ensures that all actions are traceable and auditable. But how do you manage this?

The best way to gain control is to have everything (project data, communications, decisions and documents) in one place from the start of the project (market engagement) through to the end (contract award and bidder debrief), and to ensure you have as much visibility as possible. This will allow you to:

  • Mitigate risk: with everything in one tool, you can identify and mitigate potential risks promptly. By staying on top of your procurement process and having visibility into key data, you can proactively address risks such as supply chain disruptions, quality issues or non-compliance with regulations. This helps minimise the likelihood of costly delays, setbacks or legal complications.
  • Make informed decisions: by having access to accurate and up to date information all in one place, you’re also empowered to make well-informed decisions based on real-time comprehensive insights and analysis.
  • Streamline the process: with a centralised platform you eliminate the need to navigate through multiple systems or platforms, saving you time and ensuring that nothing falls through the cracks.
  • Save time and reduce errors: by using one tool that ensures everyone is accessing the latest and correct document, you can eliminate confusion, reduce errors, and save valuable time and effort that would otherwise be spent on manual coordination and communication.

By staying in control, you can overcome challenges related to transparency, risk management, decision-making, collaboration and project management. AWARD® Plan – and the rest of the solution – equips you with the tools and features necessary to address these problems, ensuring that you can effectively navigate the complexities of procurement and achieve successful outcomes, all within one platform.

4. Protect your decision-making process

Making informed decisions is a crucial aspect of procurement, but it’s equally important to protect your decision-making process from potential legal challenges. Without a reliable system in place, tracking and maintaining an audit trail of procurement activities can be time-consuming and prone to errors. By having an automated robust audit trail set up from the start of your project, you can easily track changes, monitor progress and ensure compliance as you go along.

The importance of having a clear and traceable record of all procurement activities is well-known – it ensures compliance with regulations and protects you from legal disputes or challenges. Transparency also enhances accountability, ensuring that everyone involved is aware of their responsibilities and actions.

AWARD® Plan, and the entire AWARD® Solution, simplifies this process by automatically creating an audit trail of all procurement activity within the system. The automatic audit trail provided by AWARD® serves as a reliable record of your procurement activities, enabling you to demonstrate transparency, due diligence and adherence to procurement procedures. In the event of legal disputes, this audit trail can be invaluable in supporting your decision-making process.

5. Avoid Spreadsheets

We’re often surprised by just how many project teams opt to use spreadsheets on their most complex, high-risk or high value procurements. While spreadsheets may seem familiar and accessible, they come with their fair share of challenges. As spreadsheets are not designed to support procurement processes with multiple stakeholders and huge volumes of data, one small mistake can put the successful outcome of your entire project at risk.

Below is a summary of why you should be avoiding spreadsheets – but we have a whole blog dedicated to this topic here which contains further information.

1. Likelihood of errors: in a recent sample of tender evaluation spreadsheets, 99% had some form of error, and one small mistake can drastically affect your final decision, impacting the accuracy of your procurement process and potentially leading to costly mistakes.

2. Open to challenge: how likely is it that errors would be defendable if your spreadsheet-based project was audited? A couple of keying errors, copy and paste issues or broken links could mean the difference between a successful and unsuccessful challenge.

3. Risk of breaching confidentiality: managing multiple evaluators, bidders and questions raised by your evaluators via spreadsheets requires a complex document file structure, taking care not to send anything to an evaluator or bidder that they shouldn’t see and sanitising where required. It’s undeniably a convoluted and risky process, and incredibly time consuming.

4. Decision making is compromised: when arriving at a decision and debriefing bidders at the end of a competition, there are many and varied data sets that inform the competition. These can be very time consuming to pull together in a spreadsheet which makes your decision making difficult and unclear. Avoiding spreadsheets from the offset and through to project completion is key.

5. No robust audit trail: a spreadsheet alone is not able to evidence a rigorous, robust process. This lack of transparency leaves you open to legal challenge and making it hard to justify your decision-making process.

We realise spreadsheets have their place and are proven to be effective at delivering simple tender evaluations. However, the process is often frustrating and confusing and more importantly, is likely to leave your project open to the possibility of major delays and costly legal challenges.


In conclusion, managing complex procurement projects requires careful planning and the right tools. By enabling collaboration, securing data, staying in control, protecting your decision-making process, and avoiding spreadsheets, you can streamline processes, mitigate risks, make informed decisions, and ensure compliance. AWARD® Plan puts you on the right path from the outset, with the necessary features and capabilities to address these challenges effectively, empowering you to navigate the complexities of procurement and achieve successful outcomes. Take control of your procurement journey from Market Engagement, through the evaluation and on to contract award with our proven AWARD® Solution, and experience a more efficient and secure approach to complex procurement management.

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