How do you successfully run a procurement exercise remotely?

Nov 4, 2020Talking Points

Jacqui Stoggall, Principal Consultant

I’ve never been more aware of how our working practices have had to rapidly change and adapt than with a recent digital software procurement engagement for a large social housing provider. 

When we started this journey at the beginning of 2020, we were planning a traditional process; face to face meetings, detailed questioning and product demonstrations. And then the pandemic hit, and everything went out the window!

But rather than shelving the procurement until things were back to normal (thank goodness we didn’t do that!), we quickly implemented a new process replacing face to face supplier sessions with virtual ones utilising MS Teams and Zoom. The irony of having to rely 100% on digital technology to run this process hasn’t been lost on us!

Overall though, I think the process has gone rather well. Obviously nothing quite replaces face to face supplier sessions. But, in times like this we all have to adapt to do things differently to make the best that we can of a pretty bad situation.

For me this has been a very practical learning experience and I’ve been able to demonstrate that a complex software procurement can work perfectly well without face to face supplier contact. But we’ve learnt a few things along the way too that are critical to running a successful procurement exercise in this way.

1.   Allow more time to assimilate information, consolidate findings and build in due diligence and governance in slightly different ways.

2.   Switching off the chat functionality during sessions so everyone has to concentrate and can only ask questions by virtually raising a hand. This stops numerous duplicate questions being asked and I’ve also realised we think much more about the validity of a question when we have to verbalise it rather than typing it.

3.   Recording a session is also great for recapping and allowing people to ‘attend’ a session that they missed. 

As the pandemic continues there will no doubt be a continuing requirement for this type of approach as digital transformation programmes become even more important to support employees working remotely and as organisations find new more digitally enabled ways to connect to their customers and stakeholders.