Local government procurement ... why it’s worth the time and effort

Yes, local government procurement can be frustrating, but allow me to share with you some of the golden rules I have picked up over the last 20 years, to help you get your project off to a great start.

Managing local government projects in a digital world often means purchasing external products or expert services to reach your project objectives.

Getting procurement right can be the difference between success or failure. As an environmental health professional, procurement is rarely part of your job description and it can be quite a daunting process. With many councils cut back to the bone, it may fall to you to do most of the preparation and work.

During my career I have procured a wide range of products and services, both large and small, from software to house building. In 2011, I led a new house build programme which required a multimillion pound procurement exercise, including the whole design team and building contract http://www.bellphillips.com/.

No matter what the size of the contract, good procurement can be achieved by following my 7 local government procurement top tips:

  1. Accept that procurement is an important process and must be done properly. Whatever you do, don’t try to fight it or bury your head in the sand– you will soon come unstuck and at best it will delay your project.
  2. Engage with the procurement experts early. Talk to your in-house procurement team right at the start, they can actually be very helpful and keen to help you get it right.
  3. The cost of the contract will determine what procurement routes are available to you – so understand your own Councils procurement rules. These can sometimes be difficult to locate, but your procurement team can help
  4. Soft market testing - if it is an innovative project, it is useful to talk to professional experts in the field, listen and learn as this will help in drawing up your technical specification and give you an understanding of the likely cost of the contract
  5. Start to write down what you actually want to purchase. This is often called a technical specification. Give yourself time to get this right – once the tender is published you don’t want to be answering endless clarification questions if something is not clear. It could also put off good potential bidders
  6. Outcomes - be clear about what you want delivered, it is very difficult to amend a tender half way through, even worse to have to amend a contract. Any significant uplift in costs during the contract will raise alarm bells and have your project called in for scrutiny.
  7. Use a framework if possible – government frameworks save you time. By being on the framework companies have been pre-vetted and agreed to sign up to standard contracts as well as having a transparent pricing policy. It enables the Local Authority buyer to quickly assess a company and draw up a shortlist.

And I am pleased to say that Metastreet has been accepted onto the G- Cloud 10 framework which makes procuring our software even easier -more detail can be found here. If you have any procurement questions about our software or other services, please get in touch with me: pip.watson@metastreet.co.uk.

Pip Watson

Pip Watson MCIEH

Director Metastreet Ltd

8th August 2018

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