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Bringing procurement into the digital age…


There have been a number of recent (agency) posts about the whole agency pitch process and whether as an industry too much free time is being given away as part of the new business process. Perhaps more pertinent is the response process itself (along with the increasing number of suppliers responding). This seems to be particularly evident in the public sector/NFP arena with more and more competition responding to tenders. Now we know there’s a recession on and competition is naturally going to be higher but the processes used can often be excessively onerous.

We’ve just pulled out of a tender mid-way through the process before we’d committed large amounts of time to the response. The client had come back to all the interested parties with answers to questions that had been raised. One of these confirmed the number of suppliers who were intending to respond. With 120 potential competitors it was apparent that the effort of complying with the tender process was simply not worth it given the value of the contract (and the odds of winning).

More frustrating is that despite the constant Government allusions to the digital age, the public sector procurement process is still firmly rooted in printed documents or at best, PDFs submitted electronically. And why does each tender you do never follow the same format? This part of the process should be easy but is always more complex.

An ideal solution would be a centralised tender portal where suppliers upload their company information, contact details, copies of financials, etc. This could be structured so that to be part of a tender you have to be registered on the site (and approved). It would allow clients to view, short-list and contact potential agencies via the site. It would also allow the factual information to be automatically extracted from the site giving the agencies more time to focus on the actual brief.

Obviously such a system would cost money to set-up and maintain. But with thousands of actual (and potential) suppliers a set-up cost and an annual fee wouldn’t be too onerous for the suppliers if it simplifies the tender process. I’d happily pay a few hundred pounds a year if I knew that the system would save me time and therefore cost every time I prepared a tender.  The pitch process is a great opportunity to showcase capabilities, thinking, culture, etc and with increasing competition for contracts, a process that focuses on the response to the brief (and not the administration) can only be good for clients.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. 16/07/2009 4:40 pm

    Sounds a bit like: In-Tend, although I’m not sure they’ve got the whole linked-up thing working, and it’s a pretty nasty third-rate experience:

    If someone did it properly it could really work, but it’s one of those chicken / egg scenarios, you need big buy in from both tenderers and tenderees to make it work.

    Top marks for thinking of a solution rather than just moaning about the problem though!

  2. Dan permalink
    17/07/2009 8:29 am

    The Goverment and digital just don’t go. PDFs just wont die will they!

  3. 07/09/2009 2:45 pm

    I would recommend ‘Basecamp’ – fantastic project tracking tool, from pitch through to execution.

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