Good Practice
“What To Do When …” Our Series of Concise Tips for the Holiday Season

As we come into the holiday months, when we have a little more time our hands for reflection, reading, and thinking about all the soft skills we never have time to address, what we don’t want to be doing is searching around for help, ideas, or tips. So, we’ve done it for you …

We’ve been trawling through our archives to find the best advice that we’ve published over the past year or so. With our resident Public Spend Forum Europe expert, Peter Smith (ex CPO, CIPS chairman, government adviser, award judge, interviewer and interviewee), and our sister site Public Spend Forum US founder, also CEO, business leader and all-round philanthropist, Raj Sharma, we have donkeys’ years of experience to share (that’s a ‘long time’ for the more discerning reader).

Over the next few weeks, we’ll publish a series of ‘best practice’ posts on things like: how to engage SMEs in the public sector bidding process; what are good leadership skills made of;  how to perform a good interview; what are the best negotiation tactics, and more. In fact, we’re fed up with the term ‘best practice,’ it seems so overused today and applies to almost everything, so much so that it has lost its strength; so let’s say what we really mean … “what do we do when …” And for each piece, we will include a link to further reading relevant to the subject.

One of the main reasons we created this site originally was to help promote better public procurement practice and performance around Europe. And one way that will happen is if we can share examples of success from different people, countries, sectors. We would like to encourage that communication and discussion of techniques, approaches and ideas that have worked somewhere and might have wider interest. So we do invite our readers to contribute. Do let us know of your own experiences or problems, and how you handled them, that may inform others, or give us a good basis for discussion.

So do look out for upcoming posts – they’ll be easy to find, all titled “What to do when …”

Today – here’s a taster of one scenario.

What to do when … a supplier fails to deliver

In our efforts to evaluate fairly, and follow national and EU guidelines (even when we may have inexperienced suppliers bidding), the buyer may find itself in a position where a supplier fails to deliver on the contracting authority’s requirements. For instance, it might be that while the supplier can meet the requirements, they find it economically unsustainable to do so.

In the public sector, it is less likely that re-negotiation is possible. Paying more or relaxing the terms of the contract often cannot not be done quietly — and if another supplier who lost out in the competitive process hears that the winning bidder has been allowed to increase prices, or relax service requirements or specification, they would likely have cause for challenge or a claim against the authority.

Probably the most common response in the public sector is to work with the provider to try to address the problem, without getting into the territory of invalidating the initial supplier selection decision. So, some of the things you might need to take into consideration are:

– Can the buyer and supplier work together to identify inefficiencies in the overall supply process that, if addressed, would help the supplier’s performance or profitability?

– Is the buyer making life difficult for the supplier without realising it?

– Might the requirements or specification be relaxed just enough to help the supplier without threatening the legitimacy of the process?

– Is there a robust enough contract management regime in place to support this?

– Do the staff understand what can be done and needs to be done, and do they have the necessary negotiation skills?

Further reading:

You might also find interesting:

Project Failure Is Not Down to Selection of Inexperienced Suppliers

Contract Managers – Keep Them Away From Evaluation Panels!

Communication Breakdown: Fixing the Way Buyers and Suppliers Talk