In our recent post, we saw that the public sector faced a variety of challenges that can stand in the way of effective pre-market engagement during the procurement process.
The key to robust pre-market engagement is to involve partners, staff and potential suppliers as early as possible. This allows you to better shape your outline requirements, refine your business case and budget and select the most appropriate procurement route.
Importantly, by involving suppliers at this stage, you can encourage them to help you design projects that achieve your aims – and steer them away from a culture of providing bids regardless of whether or not they think a project will work.
Some of the barriers to effective pre-market engagement in the public sector have been cultural. Organisations have been unsure about the extent that consultation is permitted – but this has been changing, thanks to clearer directives such as the 2012 update to the EU’s public procurement rules:
“The proposals confirm the possibility for contracting authorities, prior to launching a procurement procedure, to conduct market consultation to assess the structure, capability and capacity of the market and to inform economic operators of their plans and requirements.”
Other barriers to pre-market procurement have largely been practical rather than cultural. In particular, traditional methods of engaging with partners and suppliers are often time-consuming and expensive. Even if they don’t get squeezed out by a regime that requires most public sector procurements to be completed within 120 days, these methods tend to engage only with the ‘famous few’ rather than a broad range of potential new partners and suppliers.
For example, supplier industry days are one popular method of pre-market engagement. Yet they are severely limited by the number of people who are able to attend, and how often they are run within a tight timeframe.
Limitations like these are inspiring many public sector organisations to turn to Kahootz cloud collaboration software to revamp their pre-market engagement processes. There are major advantages to doing this, not least from a policy background.
1) The government’s digital by default agenda requires services to be built around ‘user need’, sometimes as a shared service with other parties – so it’s essential to involve staff and users from all partner organisations in the discovery phase when researching and analysing vendor solutions.
2) A more open market procurement policy requires public sector organisations to seek best value and scale up supplier involvement by reaching out to more suppliers in general and SMEs in particular – there is a government target of procuring 25% of goods and services from SMEs by 2015. Capacity management and effective supplier communications are therefore key logistic issues.
So how can getting in Kahootz deliver benefits like these? There are many different possibilities, depending on what you need to achieve with your procurement project. But by using Kahootz to create secure online workspaces that can be accessed from any internet-enabled device, you can:
• Involve more interested parties to create and validate business needs – working online means less travel and fewer meetings
• Collaborate with external consultants and legal specialists without them having to leave their desk – cutting down billable hours
• Improve the quality of your requirements – by shaping them via wider consultation, easily and cheaply
• Enjoy greater transparency – of Risks and Issues, and via open, fair dealing
• Ensure all stakeholders enjoy more frequent project updates
• Foster stronger links with suppliers – via collaborative working and better communications
• Standardise early market engagement - making it easier to work with potential partners and central buying consortiums at national, regional or local level
• Benefit from uniformity and ease of communications across all partner organisations – without having to worry about issues with large email attachments or firewalls.
Kahootz cloud collaboration software can bring these benefits to pre-procurement in many different contexts. Because it is so flexible, you can deploy it to bring any combination of people together to create and share documents, participate in online board rooms, undertake supplier reviews, communicate with suppliers, initiate options appraisals and much more.
In these ways, you reach the main procurement stage of the cycle with a better concept of what you need to procure, a more robust business plan and a wider pool of potential suppliers – all gained in a fraction of the time and cost of traditional pre-procurement methods.
If you would like to learn more about how Kahootz can transform your own pre-market procurement methodology, please download our free guide Collaborative Procurement and the Art of the Possible – it’s full of ideas for creating service improvements, stronger relationships and more agile ways of sourcing goods and services in the public sector.