Love me ‘Tender’, Love me Sweet!

For the day that is in it, Valentine’s Day, the 14th of February, when little Cupid is shooting arrows straight into people’s hearts, and making people fall in love, we need to take into account the other side of the rainbow as well…

Ah, Elvis, he sang it so well! The pain, the agony, the suffering of a broken heart!! The impact when it goes wrong, the heartache, the emotional drain of it all…. If only we found a way to understand the why, know what to do about it, and how we can make sure we can mend it! And the joy when we do find a common ground, the solution, a way forward.

Love me ‘Tender’, and tender needs to be understood here as ‘formal, structured invitation to suppliers to submit a bid to supply products or service’.

Buying is a rational but equally an emotional process, and the song can be recited from both sides of the coin. Both buyers and sellers need to understand the other side first before they can make the proposal stick! The process, and it is a process, is used and abused a lot of times to disengage, to blame, to hide behind when in reality, it should be a help, not a hindrance.

Mastery Matters, so let’s demystify the Tender process and start loving it! From both sides, so that ultimately, it is not the process but the value that buyers and sellers can offer each other, that will result in the optimum decision.

For me, the most important question to ask is ‘What is procurement trying to achieve and how can we work closer together with suppliers to achieve the desired outcome?’

Traditional Procurement starts with the needs identification and defines the performance or conformance specifications which are the inputs in the tender process. Procurement supports the definition of requirements and translates these into a tender and through the process engages with the market to achieve the best possible outcomes.

What are we missing? In the above scenario, we miss the supplier’s expertise to help us to define the right specifications. Procurement should be focused on delivering the business outcomes that are valuable, rather than focusing on drafting the input specifications. The supplier is a lot more expertised in doing that, we need to ensure that we clearly communicate to the market what our desired outcome is.

Thus, the responsibility of the inputs definition needs to be transferred over to the suppliers and they can advise their customers and decision makers how they can create value and deliver the desired outcome for their business. This different perspective of procurement value changes the model entirely and we move towards an outcome-based procurement model.

Ultimately, a process, is a process, is a process, is a process. Whatever tender process suits to deliver the desired outcome, that is for me a ‘fit for purpose’ process. Ultimately, it is the outcome that is important, not the process. After all, does it not matter for Cupid’s arrow as well? Does it matter what path needs to be followed for 2 people to fall in love? As long as they do?


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