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#023 Procurement Lessons ✉️

Hello folks 👋

This post will be about procurement and the behaviours I've observed whilst working in a commercial team for a large public organisation in London. I started this role 6 months ago, and I've done more procurement work in that time period than in my previous 3 years working as a QS! It's great because I've now developed a fairly decent understanding of how a good procurement process should be run.

I think we can sort of separate the actual work activities for a procurement exercise into three separate categories:

  1. Pre Tender activities

  2. Mid Tender activities

  3. Post Tender activities

Pre Tender Activities

The bulk of the activity here is for the client team. The most important thing in my view is to make sure the scope is correct. The worst thing that happens is when the scope is ambiguous and then post-contract you have loads of variation. It's just a pain.

The documentation needs to be correct, in an organised format and easily accessibly. I think most large organisations have this covered quite well. Especially when procuring work through a framework that tends to have a set procurement structure.

Get a good procurement portal in place. This portal should notify you as and when potential tenderers respond to your expression of interest requests, and it's how they raise and get answers to potential queries. Obviously, you should make sure that your selected suppliers for the ITT all have access to the portal. It is so annoying when you have 3 suppliers using the portal, and 3 others who have to be responded to separately via email. With a portal it's easy to respond to all suppliers in a discrete fashion so they don't find out who the other tenderers are. Having to respond via email just complicates the situation unnecessarily.

Mid Tender Activities

During the tender process, you may have to field queries from the tenderers. It's imperative you respond to these as quickly as possible in order to give the tenderers the information as quickly as possible to inform their tender return. If a query is raised that you think is important for the other tenderers to know, make the query and your response available for ALL the tenderers. For example, if one of the suppliers identifies an error in the tender documents which might impact your requirements, it is critical that all of the tenderers find out as soon as possible to avoid non-compliant tender returns.

Side note - when you respond to queries publicly, make sure you anonymise it. The tenderers should not know who else is taking part in the procurement process.

You may also have to organise site visits. This will usually be done in conjunction with the project manager who will arrange passes, PPE and supervisor to escort them through the site.

In my experience, that is all I've had to deal with during the tender process, let me know if you guys have had to undertake anything else!

Post Tender Activities

This is the interesting part. By this stage, we hope that all the tenderers have submitted their tenders on-time whilst fulfilling all the requirements of the tender. If a tenderer is late it will be deemed to be a non-compliant tender. What this means is that the tender will be considered as a last resort in the event that the compliant tenders were not actually that compliant.

The tenders will then be distributed to the commercial team and the technical team. The technical team do not score the commercial offerings and vice versa - the commercial team do not score the technical submissions. This is done to prevent biases affecting the scoring.

The respective teams populate the scoring sheets and a final score is produced for each tenderer based on the sum of the commercial and technical scores.

Unfortunately, it doesn't end here. Generally, in the tender instructions, the client will stipulate there to be no additional assumptions and exclusions. Despite this, tenderers will still submit dozens of these which need to be assessed individually.

So after a winning tenderer is determined, the assumptions and exclusions need to be assessed to understand whether they pose any risk to the project. Assuming all is well with the assumptions and exclusions, a final tender report can be written for the client to make their final decision.

The tender report should:

  1. Describe the tender process;

  2. Provide a brief summary of the scope of work;

  3. List out the tenderers and their prices;

  4. A commentary on the winning tenderer and why the won in each of the scoring categories;

  5. Potential risks! This may involve identifying abnormal rates or any assumptions/exclusions which were raised by the supplier.

After the client has reviewed the tender report the contract can be awarded.

That's it for this post folks, as always, if you have any queries give me a shout!

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Dear Mr. Farhan,

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