Friday, 4 December 2015

Poker Playing Procurement

In amongst the debate on bombing Syria, you have missed the news that a requirement from the Prince of Wales for TV channels to sign a 15 page contract in order to have an interview with him has possibly backfired. It has led to one interview being scrapped and some of 'the market' collaborating in a potential refusal to sign. What happens next and who is the loser in this game of poker?

In the long-term it is impossible to believe that neither the media nor Prince Charles would want a stand-off. So will the Royal Household relax the requirement or will the media simply give in? If I were an advisor to the media I would advocate that they stand their ground in the belief that ultimately Prince Charles needs the media more than  the media need him - after all the Royal Household must have a communications strategy and 'closing down' one option is counter-productive for someone with such strong desire to express personal views.

One of the things I have become more conscious of since leaving the practitioner world of public procurement is the amount of investment potential bidders put into qualifying potential bids, in other words, calculating the likelihood of success compared to the cost expended in the bidding process. It is not taken as a given that because a buyer has invited an RFI that a bid should be prepared.

Bidding is always a gamble for the bidder. Having said that, onerous conditions placed by buyers don't make the contract any more attractive, in fact more often than not the opposite. The illustration of Prince Charles pre-contracts serves well to demonstrate that sometimes preferred suppliers may just say 'no thanks' - indeed those suppliers may never know that the buyer had a preference for them.  

Let's remember that when a buyer goes to the market, they generally have a required need and the worst of situations is when the market says 'no thanks'. Yes, you can have a great brand name,  you may even have Chartered status, yes, you can have great structures and policies and procedures, and even a seat at the top table, but if the market opts not to deal with you, you may also be a loser.

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