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Juggling your procurement calendar

Monday September 12th, 2011

By Terry Street, Principal Consultant and Procurement and Outsourcing Product Manager, Socitm Consulting

Sometimes an idea suddenly hits me from nowhere – in the shower, on the bus, sitting in front of TV. Recently I was juggling dates to be at supplier presentations and realised that because we all want new contracts to start on 1 April we all end up requiring tenders and bids around July and August.

Surely this also gives suppliers a real headache: juggling schedules and attending briefings, submitting bids to tight deadlines, attending dialogue meetings…(Next time I will ponder on why suppliers pull out of procurements – is this trend increasing?; are we becoming too demanding?; are the risks now too high? If you have any views, please let me know.)

So I started to wonder what we could do to spread it out over more of the year. Maybe allocate a month based on the first letter of the name of the organisation: A-D – April; E-H – May; I-L – June; M-P – July; Q-T – August; U-Z – September.

In fact, I began to wonder: “Why do we change at financial year end? Who in the organisation made the decision?” OK, historically it may be set that contracts end on that date, but that could always be changed. It is probably the worst time for risk of disruption for many public sector organisations, what with accounting systems closing one year and starting the next, and all the extra year-end processing – far better to change contracts when it is quieter in, say, July.

Thinking of July, I noticed the OGC frameworks vary when they start and end. The recent Local Government Software Application Solutions framework (ref RM9865) runs from 27 July 2011 for two years. And thinking about frameworks, especially where you can justify a direct award option, they can cut out much of this activity anyway.

But frameworks do not help with all those complex outsourced contracts not to mention those transition projects running from Christmas to March. Have you ever stopped to ask what all the transition managers do the rest of the year? Do they migrate south?

And it’s not just them, is it? There are all the legal advisers and the finance guys and girls and contract managers – they are suddenly in demand at peak times. And of course then there is me, the consultant. No wonder procurement work is like buses: nothing for ages then three at once…

Well, I suppose it is time to stop daydreaming and get back to reality. Now, which client am I with today?

1 Comment

  1. Linda D

    Terry, one suggestion you had was staggering bids, ie same tender but different responses from different bidders at different times. I wonder how that will work, particularly if the price can only be held for a set time? Where does that leave you, and of course the bidder?

    You also mentioned organisations declining to tender. Sometimes tender specifications seem to be a one size fits all, regardless of what is being sort. This can cause bidders difficulties, particularly if there are good reasons why items cannot be agreed to – eg regulatory constraints.

    In summary: the success of staggered bidding might well depend on what you are seeking to procure; and the willingness of suppliers to respond may depend on how well your tender specifications understand the constraints which affect suppliers.

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