Procurement Planning: Steps for Issuing a Solicitation

Procurement Planning Steps for Issuing a Solicitation

Author : Graham Allen

Procurement planning is foundational to preparing and issuing a successful solicitation. The following article outlines the solicitation process and while not all steps have equal weight all steps should be considered. To quote Yogi Berra, the famous baseball player and coach: “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up somewhere else!”

1. Gather Requirements

This is the most crucial planning step as the need is to clearly state what is being solicited. A lack of clarity will be reflected in the quality of the solicitation document, the evaluation criteria and the bid submissions. The role of the procurement professional is to collaborate with the client to articulate what they want to buy. For example, “We would like to buy a new lab instrument for testing asphalt samples to confirm that the paving work was done to specification.” The implied outcome is that we are seeking to insure value for taxpayer dollars. A follow up question is “What does success look like” or “How will you know that you are successful?” In the above example success is measured by the bidder meeting the technical specifications, including on time delivery at or below the approved procurement value. The requirements phase also includes assumptions, defining what is ‘in scope’ and identifying risks and the appropriate mitigation strategy. For a more complete description of defining requirement click here Supply Manual | CanadaBuys

2. Market Analysis

The level of market analysis is dependent on the outcome of the requirements gathering. If there is a good understanding of the number of potential bidders and their capacity this minimizes the requirement for market analysis. The most common public sector form of market analysis is a jurisdictional scan by contacting other provinces, municipalities or Group Purchasing Organizations (GPOs). To ensure consistency in gathering information it is best to have a prepared script and questions for each contact. Sometimes the need is to assess the industry’s capacity to meet the procurement requirements. In this case, an in person / virtual marketing sounding exercise can be organized. A more formal method is to issue a Request for Information (RFI). A key point is that no contractual obligation is formed when completing a market analysis or responding to an RFI. 

3. Calculate the Procurement Value

This step is important as it helps to determine the procurement approach and secures the necessary funding. Trade agreements require that the estimated procurement value be posted with the solicitation document. The estimated value also determines how long the document is posted for bidders to respond. A suggestion is to seek approval for up to a 10% contingency, should the recommended bid award exceed the posted approved value. A preapproved contingency minimizes the time required to seek additional funding should the decision be made to award the procurement.

4. Determine the Procurement Approach

The estimated procurement value and its complexity will determine the type of procurement. A Request for Tender (RFT) is used for low complexity / price only solicitations for MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Operations) such as construction, office equipment and routine maintenance. More complex procurements such as IT software, with technical evaluation criteria will use a Request for Proposal (RFP). The most complex procurements such as major IT systems, defense and transportation infrastructure may include a prequalification stage, followed by a detailed technical evaluation, a demonstration stage and then pricing evaluation. Given the time required to submit bids and to evaluate responses, bidders should meet a minimum score to progress to each stage of the procurement so that only the most qualified bids are evaluated. 

5. Identify Roles and Responsibilities 

A RACI chart is an important project management tool to identify roles and responsibilities and reduce confusion. RACI stands for responsibility (the person or persons who does the work), accountable (the person who has overall responsibility for the procurement), consulted (those who sign off on the work or whose area is affected by the work), informed (those who are provided with project updates). A RACI chart is part of the requirements gathering phase. Click here for more information on RACI charts.

6. Determine the split between Qualitative and Quantitative Evaluation Criteria

The percentage allocation between the technical evaluation (qualitative) and pricing (quantitative) ranges from 90/10 to 70/30. For example, setting the pricing allocation too high indicates that the solicitation issuer is more interested in price than quality. For highly technical procurements qualitative criteria should be 80% or 90% of the total evaluation criteria. For procurements with many potential vendors such as construction and maintenance the pricing component can be 35 – 40% of the total evaluation. 

7. Draft the Procurement Document

Sometimes this is the most difficult step which requires converting the technical requirements into a coherent solicitation document. Factors to consider are the number of evaluation questions, the types of questions (open versus text questions) and the scoring range. Given etendering systems and the need for efficiency it is best to have as many auto scored questions as possible while at the same time limiting the number of mandatories. It bears repeating that a mandatory should be limited to certifications, licenses and financial capability and answered either yes or no. In a market with limited vendor capability an unnecessary mandatory may lead to excluding potentially qualified vendors and a failed procurement. To avoid a narrow range of technical scores, there should be a sufficient number of evaluation questions with a point range of 1 – 5. 

More information on the Solicitation Process can be found here Supply Manual | CanadaBuys Following the above solicitation planning steps will help to lay the foundation for a successful procurement. Despite the best planning there is always the potential for the unseen and unplanned. A certified procurement profession is a valuable procurement planning resource in crafting a successful solicitation document.

Public Procurement in Canada

Certified procurement professionals play a pivotal role in the public procurement world. These experts are well-equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to navigate the intricacies of procurement processes. Whether you’re looking to enhance your procurement acumen through procurement management courses or seeking valuable insights through procurement webinars, the landscape for public procurement offers many opportunities to explore.

Procurement services in Canada encompass a wide range of activities, all aimed at achieving the best value for taxpayer money. Procurement service providers work closely with public sector procurement consultants to streamline processes, maintain transparency, and uphold ethical standards. This collaborative effort ensures that the procurement landscape remains fair, competitive, and cost-effective.

Obtaining a procurement certification or a purchasing certificate can be a wise decision for those aspiring to excel in public procurement. These certifications validate your expertise and demonstrate your commitment to professionalism in the procurement arena. Certified procurement professionals are highly regarded for their ability to make informed decisions that benefit both the public and the government agencies they serve.

Public procurement in Canada is not just about acquiring goods and services; it’s about contributing to the well-being of communities and the country as a whole. The individuals in this field understand the significance of their roles and strive to uphold the highest standards of ethics and accountability.

Whether you’re a seasoned procurement professional or just starting your journey, the public procurement landscape offers a wealth of opportunities for growth and development. From procurement management courses to ongoing procurement webinars, resources are available to help you stay informed and up-to-date with the ever-evolving world of procurement.

Written by Graham Allen

Graham Allen is recently retired from Supply Ontario where he managed the entire procurement life cycle for a number of vendors and individual ministry procurements. His hobbies include white water canoeing, hiking, traveling and reading.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the Subject Matter Experts and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Procurement School.

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