Thursday, 21 January 2016

Straight talking on being commissioned

This afternoon, I attended a Commissioning Academy organised by the Local Government Association to develop the skills of local councillors involved in buying services for their councils. My role was to be on a panel to give them some insight into what it feels like being commissioned (or procured). I thought I would share my opening pitch:
  • The more complicated and convoluted you make your procurement process, the more likely that you will end up hiring suppliers who are brilliant at completing forms and answering tricky questions. They may or may not be good at supplying what you want.
  • Remember that although your procurement process ends with selecting the 'best' supplier, this is only from the pool of those who could be bothered or had the time to enter the process in the first place. 
  • If commissioners put as much effort into listening to and engaging with the market place as goes into creating 156 page procurement specifications, the world of outsourced supply would be very, very different.
  • One of the biggest problems is that very few poachers become gamekeepers. Commissioners are often so darned commercially naive that taxpayers are losing out hook, line and sinker.
  • From my perspective, I am very unlikely to bother bidding for a piece of work if any of these conditions are present:
  • the time needed to bid is disproportionate to the work on offer
  • the specification of what is wanted is buried on page 86
  • the questions asked are so stupid that I cannot muster the energy to answer them
  • the questions are so impenetrable as to defy all the dictionaries and thesauruses in the world
  • the specification states that an essential ingredient of the service being procured - won't actually be paid for, but if you want to do it for free...
  • the existing supplier has a head start (for a whole number of reasons)
  • it's for a service where there will be dozens if not hundreds of bidders = too much of a lottery
  • the deadline date is yesterday (or some other equally ridiculous time scale)- the requirement is over specified and does not match the stated outcome desired
  • the supplier requirements are over specified (imo)- there is no scope for me to display my unique talents in the bidding process
  • Early market engagement means me having an opportunity to learn about the challenges facing commissioners and showcase my talents in helping to meet those challenges. Eg whole system working to prevent later problems & build robust ways of generating valuable social outcomes.

No comments:

Post a Comment