How to make the headlines (for all the right reasons)

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Apparently “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”, but this doesn’t quite ring true when your procurement has gone drastically wrong, and you’ve mistakenly wasted millions of public money.

From incidents such as the purchase of unusable emergency PPE, to a large scale printer arriving that was too big to fit in the building, we’ve seen a number of projects hit the headlines over the years, but for all the wrong reasons.

We’ve been around a while – for almost 20 years – and have learned a thing or two about delivering successful complex procurements. Below we’ve shared a few of our top tips for avoiding errors, helping to make sure that your project makes the headlines for all the right reasons.

1. Conduct effective market engagement

Effective early engagement is the crucial first step in helping you get exactly what you expect from suppliers, ensuring they fully understand your requirements and assisting you in forming an accurate understanding of the current marketplace right from the start. Through this early upfront engagement you will be able to explore how best to achieve value for money and the best possible outcome for your procurement.

Conducting early market engagement also offers you the opportunity to think about how you might consider adding social value benefits into your evaluation plan. There is a growing need (and desire) to demonstrate commitment to improve the economic, social and environmental well-being of your local or national region.  These factors must be considered from the outset if they are to be successful.

2. Be transparent with bidders

Transparency isn’t just about protecting yourself but also about sharing sufficient information with bidders. Being open and transparent from the outset helps to ensure they understand what’s important so they can better tailor their solution to meet your requirements.   

Publishing your scoring methodology with any associated guidance will give bidders greater insight into what a successful bid looks like, resulting in better quality bids and ultimately better outcomes.

Equally important is the maintenance of a full audit trail of how and why the winning tender was selected, providing evidence of every decision you make along the way. Without this evidence how will you be able to successfully provide constructive feedback, defend a challenge, provide confidence internally and ultimately justify your decisions?

3. Manage your stakeholders successfully

In a recent survey nearly 60% of buyers[1] claimed that managing stakeholders was one of their biggest challenges. And it’s easy to see why, with complex procurements typically involving multiple stakeholders who are geographically dispersed, and busy juggling numerous priorities and deadlines.

Establishing an effective communication process from the start ensures you collate and consider input from all your key stakeholders. Managing these in a centralised repository along with all the project-related evaluation information will ensure everyone is involved and has the opportunity to have their say. This will help you manage any conflict or disagreement from the outset and mitigates the risk of any issues being raised further down the line when it may be too late to address them effectively.

4. Stop using spreadsheets

A recent sample of tender evaluation spreadsheets revealed that 99% (that’s NINTEY NINE PERCENT) had some form of error[2]. These mistakes can be tricky to spot, particularly when dealing with high data volumes and multiple cross-referencing sheets and workbooks. It only takes one small error that may not only mislead you as to who the best supplier is, but also leave you facing legal challenges, a lack of confidence in your organisation,  not to mention the hefty costs and major delays to your project’s delivery.

5. Create an auditable trail

Openness and transparency are core to the successful management of any major project, with procurement regulations in place globally to promote the equal treatment of suppliers. Demonstrating a full audit trail of how and why you’ve selected the winning tender is a key element of public procurement law. For instance, in the UK, PCR2015 #84 – referred to as the ‘Regulation 84 Report’ – requires documented evidence of every decision you make along with your justification for them. Keeping thorough records and a robust audit trail throughout your procurement are essential in ensuring you comply with these regulations and can defend every decision you make.

Striving for better procurement outcomes?

According to recent research, public sector organisations could save 15% of their budget[3] if they adhered to procurement best practice; this equates to a staggering $1.5 trillion globally.

At Commerce Decisions, we are passionate about our mission ‘making a difference by helping people around the world benefit from the right procurement decisions being made on important projects’.

We do this by supporting our clients in delivering complex, politically sensitive, high value procurement projects on time and on budget; all whilst mitigating the risks of delay, challenge and poor outcomes.

In our latest guide, ‘6 Steps to Better Procurement Outcomes’, we draw on our 20 years of experience in shaping and refining best practice, with particular focus on evaluation, for some of the most complex public sector procurements globally. We share top tips and expert insight from across the team, all designed to help you deliver better procurement outcomes.

Download the 6 Steps Guide here or contact us to find out more.

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The sources for our statistics are from: