‘Simplify procurement’ is easy to say and hard to do.

It wouldn’t take long to make a list of things wrong with procurement processes. If you work in the public sector you’ll run across these often, and they probably frustrate you as much as the next person. Procurement could perhaps be the definition of that cliche ‘hidebound bureaucracy’. But this post isn’t about griping or repeating tired cliches 🙂

Procurement and tendering processes seem to require a lot of work to be done – by staff, by suppliers, by legal teams. Lengthy processes to establish requirements, large tender documents to be written, returned, evaluated, and then when a decision is made, complex legal processes to finalise contracts.

So procurement looks like an obvious place to try and do more with less, by first doing less.

But knowing something is wrong doesn’t give us the prescription for a fix.

Why procurement?
Procurement processes aren’t pointless, yet seem to cause a great deal of pointless work to be done. Procurement has real and serious purposes:
– offer a fair and transparent way to compare bids between suppliers
– prevent corruption of any kind
– ensure purchased goods and services are fit for purpose
– obtain best value for money
Of course, none of these are any less important when budgets are constrained.

What’s wrong with procurement?
Procurement should safeguard democracy and value for the public purse. I’ve worked with many different public sector procurement process (over the last ten years or so), and I’ve observed one key opportunity to do less.

Quite simply, I think the most complex and lengthy procurement processes typically offer bad value. They cost significantly more to operate for public sector organisations and increase costs for suppliers (inevitably passed on to customers). Meanwhile the final price or quality of the product or service is no cheaper or better than that which could have been had with a less costly procurement process. So the outcome is the same, but the effort to achieve it is wasteful. A perfect chance to do more with less by first doing less.

I’ll look at different aspects of this over several posts. Obviously Delib is a supplier of apps and services to public sector, so we’re not 100% objective in this, but I hope the ideas I’ll be sharing are useful inspiration for you when it comes to getting better value from the effort you put in.

This is #2 in a series of tips and ideas for doing more with less – not by working ever harder, but by first doing less and cutting out unnecessary work or cost that doesn’t add value.