There are three critical factors to consider in project procurement. Ensure that you appreciate them fully in their impact on your project. They are:
Time is a critical factor in most projects. Determining what needs to be procured, specifying it in a way suitable for a contract, and drafting the contract are lengthy processes. Tendering can also be a long process. Sarbannes Oxley procedures and government contracting rules can further lengthen drafting and tendering. This means that procurement can be a major constraint on the rate of progress in the overall project, and if so will need substantial project management attention. If your project involves procurement make sure that you know the following:
Personal relationships with your own procurement people
If there are documents that need to be prepared for procurement, for example to enable prospective suppliers to prepare their bid submissions, ensure your plan allows enough time. Avoid telling your contract manager 'I need a contract in place tomorrow' as Toby Young might say, that is how to lose friends and alienate people.
If your organization has a contracts or purchasing department, build relationships in it with the people you will be working with for project procurement. Knowing them and knowing what experience they have helps to avoid delay to projects. These relationships are also important to ensure the details included in the contract are correct and can be verified as required by the project.
Details of the specifications in the procurement agreement
Ensure that the procurement agreement works, which means to say, ensure that it contains the right specifications. It may sound obvious, but check that the product or service specifications, together with any special project management requirements, are actually in the contract or other procurement agreement. Ensure that all the issues are understood by both sides: do this by talking to the supplier before the contract is signed, or getting someone from your project team to talk to them. After talking to them, make a short note of key points from the conversation and e-mail it to the supplier, asking them to verify your understanding. If this sounds like common sense, it is, and it is a reminder that failing to do these simple things is all too often regretted big-time subsequently. Remember that once a contract is made, anything omitted can only be inserted if it is agreed by both parties. So get all your changes in before the contract is signed.
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