Seeing Procurement teams as a brick wall between you and the contract isn't helpful.
Sometimes, procurement teams are seen, if not as the outright enemy, at least as an unwanted complicating factor or obstacle in awarding contracts. ‘I suppose this will have to go through Procurement’ is often accompanied by rolling of the eyes.
I’m sure you’ve experienced the frustration when relationships with operational staff are good and when there is clear common ground on the technical aspects of the project; ‘then along came the procurement team and it all went pear-shaped.’
It’s all too easy for a bid team to slip into thinking that Procurement is there to create problems, particularly when they’ve just missed out on an important project. But is it helpful?
Procurement May See a Bigger Picture Procurement teams have a job to do. They may have to take broader business issues into account and, above all, they have to ensure there is fair competition (which is actually to your advantage). You can’t wish away the role of the procurement team so it’s better to understand it as well as you can and work with it.
You need to appreciate the following:
Procurement people try to make decisions that are best for their business and the framework or project.
They are not always technical people with a detailed understanding of the needs of the final end-users of the scheme.
Sometimes the procurement team may not have the most up to date information on what the scheme is for, how it is to be used, and specific requirements for it. In some cases the end-users don’t have a clearly defined vision of the needs of the project either. And the best possible solutions may or may not be known to the client if they have only been used outside of their sector of business or knowledge.
Know Where to Start the Discussion If you want to properly represent the value of your proposed solution you should invest some time in exploring the level of understanding the procurement team has about the desired project outcomes. Assuming anything is a ‘given’ could mean you miss vital steps in the logic that builds your business case.
Procurement people try their best to interpret what their clients want and need. This may be more or less easy depending on how close the procurement and customer teams are, and how different this current procurement is from previous ones.
How Will Bids be Evaluated? The criteria used for evaluation should be clearly stated (especially for public procurement). For each of these there will be sub-criteria that explain how the assessors will score the submissions they receive. There should be few surprises.
As with all of us, procurement teams don’t always say what they mean or mean quite what they say. What seems obvious to them may not be quite so plain to an audience who is reading the information or ITT for the first time. Their jargon and terminology used may also have subtly different meanings to that of the reader. Checking there is a common understanding early on is helpful.
Procurement teams usually try to write as ‘neutrally’ as possible. One of their objectives is to ensure a fair contest so that their organisation is protected against criticism and possibly legal action.
All of this may seem like a complication, but really it’s there to ensure that the decisions made are in the best interests of the client and support their broader business objectives. Try to understand this agenda rather than see it as an obstacle.
I have many years of senior sales and account management positions.
This experience taught me how to interpret exactly what clients are seeking, and what they need and expect to see and hear from the successful bidder. We draw on this experience to give your team an additional competitive advantage by building on their existing strengths while improving their team-working and self-awareness.