Mathew Baxter, CEO of the echelon Group, discusses the essential steps involved in the procurement process and the importance of innovating when needed
The key thing for me in procurement is preparation. Allow yourself time before you go to the market to consider what you want to buy, and how. Don’t rush headlong. Allow the procurement process you select to drive the right outcome.
You have a selection of different procurement routes open to you, but often the regulations are not used to their full powers. For example, the public sector tends to lean toward traditional forms of procurement, which is only Regulation 27 (open) and Regulation 28 (restricted).
In actual fact Regulation 40 allows and indeed actively encourages the contracting authority, which is any public sector procuring organisation, to go to the market for consultation prior to procurement. You can effectively go out and talk to potential suppliers to test your thinking and get their advice and feedback which is invaluable.
“Treat all businesses equally and offer full transparency on the process – you need to be beyond reproach to avoid challenges at the end of the process“
The other essential is the flow of documents. At Echelon, we will often see contracts which conflict with each other about expectations and specifications. All the tender documentation should be aligned, and clearly show suppliers what is expected of them. Nearly all poor procurement comes from ill-prepared documents with ambiguous specifications.
Another overlooked element is the mandatory provision of feedback to unsuccessful and successful contractors. Insufficient information provided to unsuccessful bidders has led to successful challenges. The fundamentals for good procurement are transparency and fairness.
Treat all businesses equally and offer full transparency on the process. You need to be beyond reproach to avoid challenges at the end of the process. This is particularly relevant when dealing with qualitative assessment.
It is essential that whoever evaluates the tenders has been actively involved in the process and understands the specifications and requirements. In order to score it rationally those evaluating need a deep understanding of what is in the tender.
Before COVID, there was no standard form of contract that covered the pandemic, so we’ve now created a standard contract clause, which we’re making freely available to anyone that needs it. Handling force majeure involves building flexibility into your process, including the ability to operate virtually.
The proposed new Charter for Social Housing set out in the White Paper mean that public sector landlords will be more accountable than ever to their residents, and rightly so. Ensuring contracts are procured effectively and transparently, with robust requirements around service delivery, cost, and contract management is crucial to building trust and assurance between registered providers and residents.
The echelon Group is a Housing Digital Stakeholder, and a UK-wide procurement consultancy. Its core services are built around an ethos of adapting and flexing to meet client’s individual requirements.
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