Imagine this scenario…
Today is the day that supplier responses to your RFP are due. Your internal customers, who haven’t exactly been the biggest fans of the procurement department over the years, are antsy. This RFP is related to a high profile project of theirs. They wanted to use their “favorite” supplier, but your management was able to convince senior management to have the procurement department do an RFP. The leadership of your internal customer department reluctantly agreed, saying “I’ve been told you guys can do magic with this, I can’t wait to see how good you guys are.”
You haven’t heard much from the bidders since issuing the RFP three weeks ago. But that’s not unusual. When your internal customers follow up daily to learn whether you’ve received any proposals, you tell them that bidders rarely submit their proposals before the due date. Seller’s never want their pricing or proposals to leak to their competitors, who would have the opportunity to revise their bids and steal the business out from under them.
You check your email as soon as you get in. No proposals.
The interoffice mail arrives in the morning. No proposals. But the deadline is noon and you sometimes get FedEx packages delivered right to you. If the bidders sent their responses for next morning delivery, you’d have them by noon, no problem.
But noon passes. Still no proposals.
The phone rings. Your caller ID tells you that it’s your internal customer. Time for a rest room break. That’s a good excuse for not picking up your phone.
You listen to the voicemail fifteen minutes later (you really extended that rest room break). You knew what they were going to ask.
You’ll call them back in a little while. Your palms sweat. Maybe you should call the suppliers. You can get tracking numbers for their packages.
You can’t reach the first three suppliers, so you leave voice mails. You do reach the fourth. He says that they chose not to bid. You also reach the fifth and last supplier. Same story. No bid.
Oh, no. There is no room for delay in this project. And if you had to find new bidders, we’re talking another three weeks for them to respond if they are even interested.
Your internal customer – once regarded as being stuck in the old ways of doing things with a handshake – may have been right. The procurement department failed. Just like they expected. And this is the most embarrassing moment of your career.
Could this fate have been avoided?
But if the advice can save you from a similar embarrassing moment, wouldn’t it be worth reading?
I think so.
To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
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