Wednesday, 22 May 2013

You're Procurement, get me out of here

If only procurement professionals had the escapology skills of Harry Houdini. Day by day I see bad contracts entered into and hear the mantra "you're commercial, get me out of here".

Why does it all go so wrong with people entering into contracts they no longer can/want to live with.

To me, it starts to go wrong when procurement people are not engaged early enough in the market dialogue. Technical specialists are problem focussed and want to speak to techies who can talk their language and give them what they want.

Naivety and gullibility play a part. Firms which exist to make a profit and sellers incentivised to make a sale find it easy to smile, say yes, and shape the dialogue to reflect their unique selling proposition. The movement of negotiating power from the buyer to the seller is palpable.

Failure to consider alternative options doesn't help - but why on earth would a techie want to consider alternative options, there's is to get a problem solved. Not taking a wider perspective and seeing the transference of costs to elsewhere within the same system blinkers the cost/benefit analysis.

Pride and face saving make it hard to back track and say, "sorry, that's not a good deal for us".

A sense of urgency doesn't help. The requirement is urgent, so there is reduced time to take corrective action.

All this seem familiar? It certainly appears to be demonstrated through the negotiation of GP contracts in 2004, and the recognition that costs have only been transferred to A&E. It also looks as if we're going the same way with Clinical Commissioning Groups - yes, we think the GP contracts were wrong yet are we making the same mistakes? It also looks as if some high level 'staff exit' packages aren't immune.

Yes, maybe we should ask a procurement person to get us out of here - more often than not that cry is heard too late when what should have been heard, right at the start, was, "I'm going into the jungle, can a procurement person get in here with me, now?"

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