“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”. If you are a buyer working in the public sector or a supplier to it, I would propose an addition to that well known phrase. You will eventually have to understand the new EU procurement directives.
How do you react when it is announced that new directives are on their way? Do you say “I have only just grasped the current rules”, “I can’t cope with more bureaucracy”, “How do we get around them?”. Or do you say “They will ensure fairness and transparency”, “I must understand the changes.”, “They are an opportunity”. OK initially I expect it is the first responses, but then reality bites and you have to accept that you cannot ignore the inevitable. That would result in lost business if you are a supplier or lost value if you are a buyer.
The Cabinet Office implement European Directive 2014/24/EU with the publication of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015. So the impacts are already being felt. What will you do when you receive a tender based on an amended or possibly completely new procedure? Anyone who has dealt with tenders knows that time is always the enemy and every opportunity to get organised beforehand should be taken.
I consult with both public sector buyers and suppliers and have worked with them for over 30 years. It is those that recognise the need to keep ahead of any changes that really stand out. They have their processes in order and recognise the need to keep them that way to minimise the panic mid tender. It is nothing to do with size or scale but more an inherent professionalism and a recognition that to do the best for their organisation they need to understand the way the market operates.
Another vital element often overlooked, is to ensure that the rest of the organisation understands how the system works and any changes that influence it. For suppliers this may be educating the sales force and management, for buyers the clients/customers of the procurement function.
The focus of the reforms to the EU procurement directives are generally positive for both buyers and suppliers. They take an approach more grounded in normal commercial activity with simplified and more flexible rules for both buyers and suppliers. They reduce barriers to small and medium size enterprises (SME) access. They facilitate innovation. Dependent as ever on choosing the appropriate procedure for the project, the new or amended procurement routes are also generally positive e.g. reduced timescales, greater buyer-supplier collaboration in innovation partnerships, negotiation where appropriate, clarity on inclusion of social, environmental and employment aspects, clarity over use of eProcurement etc.
If you are a supplier don’t risk loss of business or missed opportunities and if you are a buyer don’t miss out on the opportunities for increased value for your organisation. Get informed and be ahead of the game.