Miller’s Monday Morning Message

Andrew Miller

Miller's Monday Morning Message
presented by ACM Consulting Inc.

Andrew Miller on operational excellence, strategy, life balance and everything in between

Toronto – July 23, 2012

There was a recent article in the Globe and Mail entitled 'Military procurement overhaul eyed.' It was about how the Canadian Department of National Defense is considering an overhaul of its procurement practices in light of many recent mistakes. I was intrigued by the subject because I do a lot of work with both private and public sector organizations in helping them increase ROI through their purchasing processes, and believe that our public procurement practices need some improvement.

I have seen many of the challenges mentioned in the article with some of my clients:  picking the supplier before a competition has been held; a lengthy specifications development process; not understanding the options available to them; and of course, making the wrong decision and having to reverse it.

These things happen because of the 'Collaboration Gap', where providers (buyers) are trying to purchase specifications and requirements and suppliers are trying to sell them features and benefits. Instead, buyers should be focusing on the desired outcomes they want to achieve and the objectives of the purchase they are making. They can then partner with their suppliers to develop the best solution for the best value.

There needs to be better collaboration between buyers and suppliers, both inside and outside of the formal procurement process. The buyers need to better understand the tools and the options they have available to them within the public procurement process. There are three things public sector organizations can do with the procurement process that will help them make better decisions:

  • Hold a two-step Request for Proposal (RFP) process where suppliers will have a chance to re-submit an updated proposal after having discussions with the buyer;
  • Hold a Request for Information (RFI) process before the formal buying process in order to determine what solutions can be provided and give clarity on what is desired;
  • Develop a process by which buyers can collaborate and innovate directly with suppliers so their needs are part of the product development lifecycle.

With the intense scrutiny our public sector institutions go through when they spend public money, it only makes sense to spend time developing a better process for how that money gets spent. Currently, we continue to do the same things over and over again and expect the results to improve. Some guy named Einstein told us that means we are insane.I wouldn't go that far, but it does mean we need to look at the way we operate and find ways to improve. 

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Andrew Miller


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© Andrew Miller. All rights reserved. 2012.

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