While most people will agree the procurement rules are a bit of an ass, they are designed to add some conformity in procurement decisions.
If enforced correctly, they can be good for suppliers and customers. We are far from the wild west days of selling software in the 80’s and early 90’s, where you could sell something over a few pints, a flash meal, decent cognac and a handshake. Or so you might think so.
Back a few decades ago, I saw two sides of a coin with that philosophy first hand. One where a supplier did a customer over, on a solution and the reverse. Both rather unpleasant to be a third party to.
Even when OJEU rules don’t apply, or in a very lightweight fashion with lower value purchases, it pays for the buyer to be aware, “Caveat Emptor”, as the Romans might have said down the Colosseum. I have responded to, designed and scored enough sets of buyer questions and sat through so many structured demos to know the value to the organisations I work with, of all that ceremony.
Sometimes I encounter software & solution suppliers, who are honest and tell me, “it’s all a lot of faff” and “we are small so cannot be expected to find the time for rigorous questioning”. To me it all indicates a lack of interest, energy and hunger to be a partner and do a good job. After all, if they can’t be all over us at the sale, honestly I can’t imagine the implementation team being any livelier, can you? It’s just part of teasing the facts out, before handing over tens, hundreds of thousands of pounds, in the confidence systems will solve the issue. I respect that honesty, although rather than blaming the process, they just need to up their game, to succeed.
Having been a supplier once, over on the dark side, I appreciate a level playing field for all. I do all that I can to enforce it too.
So it does irritate me when some suppliers think they cannot bother with the ‘penalty shoot-out’ with everyone else and try to find a backdoor route to sneak in by some other method. Sometimes a contact they have on the periphery of a procurement or a purchase, maybe some other method.
Maybe that approach works with others assisting and managing procurements, they must be very naïve or stupid to try it with mine, or maybe assume that no-one talks to each other in the small pond, which is this sector.
If a supplier does not want to do the procurement penalty shootout, it’s probably because they or the solution is not up to it. Bear that in mind if sales people are looking for special treatment, fast-tracking etc, analyse and scrutinise them in even more detail. Better you find out what’s wrong with them or the product before the award, not after when you have signed up to five years or more of it.
Its rude at the least, and borderline illegal at worse. I suspect too that these would just be the typical suppliers, who would be the first to cry foul if it happened to them. Some might say that would be poetic justice. Remember supplier, what goes around comes around.
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(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting www.acutanceconsulting.co.uk 07854-655009
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