Monday, 5 December 2016

Sweet and Tender Process

In the words of The Smiths* 
He was a sweet and tender hooligan, hooligan
And he said that he'd never, never do it again  
And of course he won't (oh, not until the next time)”
- a song about good intentions [lenient sentencing] but with a knowledge that the perpetrator will reoffend. Apart from an obscure reference to the word tender, I though about this song because people often have good intentions to stick to a standard process but it is almost inevitable the they will deviate from the process.

Last week we have worked with a project team to look at the tender process. The problem with the process that we identified was that there was not a standard process for the team to follow and this led to an inconsistent customer experience. There was also a steer for better category management (category management involves managing a category of good/products/services and ensuring that spending and contracting is efficient and effective.  Working with the suppliers and market to build an awareness of innovation and best practice that may deliver value for money for the institution).

Key deliverables for the project are:
1.     A standard procurement process which enables effective category and supplier management
2.     Removal of unnecessary data and work duplication in the procurement process
3.     Clear communication points for customers of the tender process
4.     A standard suite of templates for use in the tender process

The team uncovered a huge amount of variation of practice and at a times it was difficult to disaggregate whether the variations were caused by type of tender (e.g. good/services/ EU) or personal working arrangements. There was consensus that more activity could be done up front in the process to ensure that customers provide the team with better information and to enable the category manager to produce a procurement timeline. There were opportunities for removal of data duplication and onerous reporting. The team also identified that more and involvement at evaluation stage could mitigate risk to the university and better support our customers. The final improvement was building in a feedback loop to ensure that continuous improvement is inbuilt into the process.

Key benefits of the changes include:
·      Formalised category management to emphasise the best buying practices for the university
·      Clear definition of roles for people in the process
·      Clearly articulated timescales to help/meet customer expectations and help procurement workload planning
·      Consistent customer experience throughout the process
·      Reduction of data duplication which will reduce the risk of error

The benefits are likely to take a while to measure and identify due to legislation which informs the timeline for tendering, so we will be keen to work witht he team to ensure that the benefits are evidenced.
The team have set themselves a deadline for implementation, which is the 31 January 2017, and have a number of actions that will support this. It is likely that the university will start to see the improvements from the tender process within the next few months. The team have also agreed to meet on a monthly basis to continue to review and refine the process, and endeavour to continue to work in a standard way.

*”Sweet and Tender Hooligan” The Smiths, 1985

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