Frank Carron   |   25 Aug 2021   |   5 min read

Public Procurement Methods You Need to (Jedi) Master in FY22

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Looking to add a bit more force to your procurement skillset? Here are six skills you should learn to expand your professional portfolio, leveraging some lessons from a galaxy far, far away.

1. Driving Cost Reduction

War troopers - SW

In Star Wars, the Galactic Republic is great at public sector procurement. Within a week, they found a vendor for a clone army, all thanks to Obi-Wan’s sourcing skills. And given it was free, that’s some serious value-for-money!

Cost-benefit is also going to be a key skill for procurement professionals in FY22. Like the Republic in the movies, governments around Australia are going through some hard times. There’s increased focus and scrutiny all around on reducing costs and spending well.

Unlike private companies (who can prioritise cost-cutting above other concerns), public procurement officers must take several factors into account: driving social and economic benefits, reducing carbon footprints, encouraging innovation, and creating jobs.

So, how can this be done? Here’s where procurement padawans and masters alike can start:

  • Conducting a spend analysis.
  • Ensuring buyers are trained in driving value-for-money.
  • Enhancing demand planning.
  • Building better supplier relationships.
  • Considering the total cost of ownership (TCO).

2. Improving the Quality of Products & Services

When it comes to procurement, you can also learn a lot about what not to do from Star Wars. The whole universe is full of quality-control issues. The Death Star has a fatal weakness. The Millennium Falcon’s hyperdrive is rubbish. Holograms have more static than an old CRT TV.

Problems such as these would have been avoidable with proper quality-control practices. As a public procurement professional, here are some of the ways you could improve this and avoid any Wookie mistakes:

  • Better RFPs with detailed and accurate specifications.
  • Improved standardisation.
  • Managing supplier performance through contractual KPIs.
  • Establishing a feedback loop to drive continuous improvement.
  • Increased control of maverick spend.

3. Increasing Supplier Diversity / Social Procurement

In Star Wars, the good guys are all about diversity. While the Empire are all the same, the Rebel Alliance have strength in their diverse mix of people - Mon Calamari, Ewoks, Twi’liks, Bothans, and more.

Private companies can be more - or less - diverse for all kinds of reasons. But in the public sector, there are strictly mandated diversity frameworks. Navigating these is important.

So, how can you ensure diversity in procurement?

  • Work with social enterprise development organisations (such as Social Traders).

  • Improve your internal social procurement knowledge, both generally within your organisation and procurement team.

  • Use supplier discovery tools like VendorPanel Marketplace which labels organisations that will meet your social, local and ethical procurement benchmarks (SMEs, indigenous-owned, women-owned, social enterprises, other minority suppliers).

Having a diverse supply base goes beyond compliance or doing the right thing. Diversity increases public sector responsiveness and flexibility, improves resilience, and boosts innovation.

4. Boosting Digital Transformation

Going digital is synonymous with the Star Wars universe. People free up time by automating routine tasks and giving them to droids like C3P0 and R2D2. This leaves the heroes free to do all the cool things, like lightsaber battles.

Of course, digital transformation in the public sector doesn’t have to be a sci-fi dream. By leveraging smart procurement software, you can:

  • Ensure foolproof buyer compliance by providing them with automated, guided procurement workflows.
  • Keep everything in a single system with high-level reporting and analytics tools, making it easy to be audit-ready.

  • Automate contract management with solutions like Nimblex.

  • Automated the management of supplier compliance documentation.

  • Use tools to easily find verified local, social and ethical suppliers.

By doing this, it frees you up to spend more on the “human” elements of the profession, such as vendor relationship management.

Want to learn more about how digital transformations are transforming local government? Read about it here.

5. Addressing Maverick Spend

Darth Vader

Darth Vader doesn’t mess around when it comes to enforcing compliance within the Empire. And in the public sector as elsewhere, it can be difficult to get people to understand and adhere to policy.

We’re certainly not suggesting you force-choke anyone who fails to follow procurement directives (though we would be curious that you actually had force powers)! Still, how do you deal with these rebel elements?

Learn from the Empire’s mistakes, and don’t send in the troopers. Instead, view mavericks as an opportunity for targeted improvement. Find out who they are, have a conversation, discover why they ignored the procurement process, and address their concerns.

Some reasons they may have gone rogue:

  • Buyers may believe they have found a better deal.

  • Buyers may be ignorant of public procurement policy.

  • Procurement systems may be easy to work around.

  • Procurement processes may be confusing or difficult in terms of UX.

  • Buyers may cut corners due to being time-poor.

  • Buyers may have a preference for a supplier they know well or have always used.

6. Being Strategic

Real Jedi Masters play the long game. When Yoda loses against Emperor Palpatine, he retreats to Dagobah and bides his time until he can turn the tide with Luke. He wouldn’t have won if he’d rushed right in.

The same is true for making big wins in procurement. None of the public procurement methods mentioned above – cost reduction, quality improvement, increased supplier diversity and digital transformation – are possible if procurement continues to operate on a tactical, transactional, or short-term basis.

So, how can you make the shift? Move from tactical to strategic procurement by:

  • Identifying and building relationships with strategically important suppliers.

  • Ensuring procurement goals are aligned with government policies, goals and targets.

  • Creating (or updating) a procurement data strategy that will underpin digital transformation projects.

  • Being proactive rather than reactive in terms of disruptive forces.

Want to brush up more on your procurement strategy? Read our article on six procurement strategy recommendations for 2022.

Public procurement - SW

VendorPanel: For True Procurement Masters

Like Luke’s trusty lightsaber, real procurement professionals have the right tools at their disposal. VendorPanel is the trusted procurement solution for almost every state, territory and local government in Australia. With it, you can handle your whole procurement lifecycle from planning and sourcing to contract management - all in one place.

To learn more about how VendorPanel can help your department reach its goals, book a demo today. Alternatively, contact us directly.

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