Monday, 19 November 2007

Making Tendering Easier

This could easily be seen as a consultant having a whinge, so please consider yourself warned, but I think that there is a real issue underneath.

We have been asked to reregister as suppliers to a major public agency (a regional development agency). They have changed their processes for publishing tenders, and so have requested all existing suppliers to re-register. This we have done, even though there is no open tender suitable for us at the moment.

The reregistering of information was particularly onerous, including not only evidence of policies, accounts and insurances (all of which are available to us, if not exactly at hand) but also 5 referees. All 5 referees were then contacted to check on our credentials.

This is not unusal, though5 referees is more than the usual 3.

My question is whether this is appropriate or helpful. Certainly it showed that we had 2 more customers willing to vouch for us than usual, but does that really prove anything? If we had a poor project we would not have used them as reference, so I don't think you get more confirmation of the quality of the supplier.

Also, as we have worked for this client many times in the past 5 years there is an evidence base within the organisation which is surely more accurate than the views of clients that I get to select as referees. Wouldn't it be better to look up performance on past contracts instead?

The 5 referees is of course an example of incidental bias against new start companies - somthing that goes against the small business concordiat.

My main point though is that this is all evidence that we have presented many times to the public sector - and will no doubt be required to present again next time we tender. This is not a value adding activity for any of the suppliers - or the client.

The One Form project in St. Helens is a pilot trying to address this by getting all the local suppliers to register just once at a central point, and for all of the public sector agencies to then use that information for tendering processes. This seems to me to be a sensible way forward, and I would like to think that this could be achieved for the whole of the UK public sector.

This does require a rather high level of co-operation between a wide range of agencies, but we can hope - can't we?

As further point, One Form is free - another advantage that goes against the recent practice of some local authorities, who again unintentionall discriminate against micro and sme suppliers who cannot afford to register with multiple LAs.

Monday, 12 November 2007

A view from Dubai

I have been visiting Dubai for 9 years, during which time it has changed rapidly and consistently. The view from my regular hotel used to be of the golf course, and is now mainly of homes on the site of the golf course. The signature building used to be the Burj al Arab, and I think will soon become the Burj Tower which is rapidly ascending to the skies. We are used to describing a certain sort of attitude as "Can do". One of my fellow tutors accurately described Dubai as purely a "Do" environment - never mind "try" even "can do" does not accurately reflect the attitude there. An example is the speed with which new Creek crossings are springing up to deal with the ever increasing traffic.

However still one of the best bargins anywhere is an Arba crossing on a wooden diesel boat from one side of the creek to the other - still a bargain at 1 Dirham (about 13p sterling), though up from 50 fils. 5 minutes that remind you that you are not in Western Europe.

Also along the banks of the Creek, right downtown in Dubai away from the beachfront tourist hotels, is the Dhow Wharfage where trading vessels are loaded and unloaded with just about everything you can imagine. I saw Kellog's Cornflakes, air conditioning refeigerenta 134a, tires and whole cars being moved around. The goods may have changed but surely this sort of activity would be recognisable to any Dubaii trader from the past millenium. Good to remember that the basics of business still apply, even in these days of Lasers in the jungle.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Certified Purchasing Professional: Purchasing Purchasing Skills

Paul will be presenting the above course in Dubai starting 4th November 2007 for 5 days.
The course costs $2950 exclusive of accomodation and travel, and is certified by ILM. Click on the link above for more details.

The outline is;
Purchasing is a vital area for modern business, and increasingly the difference between successful and failed organisations. Purchasing and Buying teams used to be seen as about processing paperwork, but it is now understood that they are key to ensuring that the whole organisation has the right equipment and services, has costs under control, and can deliver the right Quality and Added Value. This requires teams with a complete set of Professional Purchasing Skills, who know where and how they can add value to their organisations. This workshop explores all the skills need by Professional Purchasers, and helps delegates to practice and refine their skills in a no risk environment. Delegates will learn how to:

  • Match their activities to the needs of the organisations
  • Select the right purchasing approach for each purchase
  • Write appropriate invitations to Tender
  • Select suppliers for short and long term success
  • Manage suppliers
  • Implement measurement of suppliers
  • Negotiate contracts