Friday, 20 March 2015

Negotiation in the Public sector

Negotiation is one of the key skills in business, but it has been mostly excluded from EU public procurement - until now.  The new regulations move negotiation from a "only if you have to" route to a potential alternative to a standard restricted tender.

The intention is clearly to try and get some better value, and to shake things up a bit in the bidding process. 

What concerns me is that the Public Sector might be de-skilled in commercial negotiation.  Now as a trainer, de-skilling is generally accompanied by the sound "Ker-Ching", but in this case I don't have something to sell (at least not yet - we are talking about it).  To me there has got to be a risk that skilled commercial negotiators who did this all day long in the private sector part of the business will have  a real advantage over Public Sector buyers.  Training would help (I would say that, wouldn't I) and so would bringing in people from the private sector (though there are problems with that), but the sort of skill and expertise needed to match the private sector is going to take a long time to build up.  Obviously the regular CIPS negotiation competitions will provide some people with the appropriate battle scars.

I wonder what this will mean, and I don't have any easy answers.  Does it mean that buyers will avoid these routes?  Or that they will try them and be burned?  Or will there just be lots of questions?

I am interested in people's views - and later in the year I hope to be involved in some suitable training targeting public sector buyers.  And possibly private sector sales teams too.  Lots of things in the air.

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