Public Sector Procurement: 1st April 2022

Public Sector procurement has meant a frustrated Rob this week. After two years of working on one tender, the public body cancelled the tender at the decision stage. They stated the costs were too high (from all bidders) and their business case didn't work.

Did they disclose a budget? No. Did they have a long list of requirements? Yes. Were some of these requirements not worth the effort if they knew what they cost? Also, yes. Did they do rounds of pre qualification without mentioning the budget or seeking costs? Yes.

Is this way of procuring a solution a good one? No, and this admittedly was a particularly bad example. If you know the business case, then disclose the budget and ask for the best value solution for that budget. Let's not spend two years in the process as the world changes rapidly (couldn't be more true of the past two years!).

I've actually done quite well with big tenders recently being 3 for 3 with Tate, V&A and Gatwick Airport. I don't mind a lot of requirements, significant documents to fill in for the response and significant cost scrutiny. As long as it's done in an intense period this can work well to get winning responses. The big frustration here is that it was cancelled, rather than lost. Weeks of work time on our side and theirs to come to a result of largely nothing. Not just from one bidder, in the final stages there were three others! It's an immense drain for no outcome.

I suppose all I'm asking for the future: make tenders short, intense and focused. If you're asking for a large implementation with multiple systems, then get indicative costs to see whether you're in the ballpark or better yet, supply a budget. Thank you!

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