03 February 2009
Accelerating procurement processes to help vendors is not a priority for nearly two-thirds of buyers, according to the latest SM poll.
The survey of 100 purchasers found 63 per cent have not cut tendering times to help vendors win business more quickly to tackle the downturn.
It follows efforts by the European Commission to encourage public sector buyers to take advantage of accelerated procedures that reduce tendering from a minimum of 87 to 30 days. It said faster tendering for major public projects could help boost the economy (News, 22 January).
Buyers from both the public and private spheres argued faster processes should only be used for a specific need. They said it could create unnecessary risks and may not be beneficial for suppliers.
Martin Toomey, commercial manager at the Chamber of Commerce East Lancashire, said accelerated procedures could be unhelpful to vendors because many are "ill prepared" to react to shorter time scales. The problem, he explained, is particularly felt by SMEs who only have limited resources to react to requests for bids.
"For the scale of projects I am involved in there is so much governance and protocol that nothing can be overlooked or hurried," added Peter Easterby, managing director at consultancy Peter Benjamin Associates.
Another buyer was not convinced that speeding up processes would help either vendors or stakeholders and could even be seen as "reckless".
He said purchasers must always apply a considered approach, assessing both risk and the suitability of a supplier.
But purchaser David Taylor said the issue is often out of buyers' hands. "Procurement's role is to support the business and it is up to the business to determine how important the procurement process is," he explained.
"If the businesses demand is such that an accelerated process is needed, then that is what procurement must provide."
Those buyers who have expedited processes said it could help build relationships with vendors and even reduce costs. A number of the respondents explained that "time is money" and faster procedures should be embraced on this basis.
Paul Baker, senior procurement manager at Telefónica O2, said fast procedures should be applied at all times and that e-procurement can be used to process purchases quickly.
"E-auction tools provide buyers with a means to maximise market price against clearly defined requirements and reduce the resources used during conventional negotiations by 80 to 90 per cent. This area is hugely undervalued."