Procurement is a tricky part of the maintenance management business. While the solutions to your problems may seem simple, the realities of modern-day bureaucracy and 'request for proposal' practices can make the process anything but. If approached incorrectly, you could not only end up delaying your goals, but actively thwarting them.
Dealing with regulation
Government Technology recently highlighted an incident to emphasize just how procurement and RFPs can go wrong. It involved a mid-sized city that pursued cloud software as a means of updating their accounting process. When it came time to draw up the proposal, it used a template from an earlier RFP, which ended up confusing bidders. Once the mess was finally sorted out between the company that took the contract and the city officials, it turned out that the company couldn't provide what the city wanted. The contract was canceled and everyone's time and money was wasted.
The incident serves as a lesson about diligence to facility managers and anyone else having to head procurement. At the same time, it also highlights an inherent issue in the whole process. As Government Technology noted, current policies make it very difficult to get anything done in a timely manner, as managers and vendors must hack through a thicket of legal code in order to successfully make a deal. Until regulation eases up and procurement is allowed flexibility, facility managers are going to have to get creative if they want to invest in the newest and best technologies available. Dugan Petty, former Oregon and procurement director said as much when discussing current regulation law.
"These polices serve a purpose, but encouraging innovation is not one of them," Petty told Government Technology.
Tips for better procurement
If you're looking to streamline or at least improve your procurement strategies, there are a number of ways you can go about it. Facilities Net has recommended more than a few, many of which come down to learning that negotiations are almost always a possibility. Consider leasing as opposed to buying if equipment is only being used for a certain amount of time. Try to work out volume discounts if you're purchasing large amounts of a product. Develop strong partnerships with your suppliers or else consider a completely open process during bids to test new waters.
Another strategy worth considering is joining a group, according to Government Technology. By pooling resources and putting together cooperative purchasing agreements, costs may be reduced and results improved. Other than that, there's always the option of turning to the private sector for advice, to make sure you're getting the best deal for your money.