We present a new white paper published by Public Spend Matters Europe in conjunction with VORTAL with the title “Building Supplier Involvement in Public Procurement”. The document was written by Peter Smith. Peter has 30 years’ experience in procurement and supply chain as a manager, procurement director, consultant, analyst and writer. He edits Spend Matters UK / Europe and Public Spend Matters Europe, and with Jason Busch, the founder of Spend Matters in the US, has developed the websites into a leading web-based resource for procurement and industry professionals.

The paper is mainly focused on how many buyers do not consider the suppliers’ perspectives when choosing or operating eProcurement systems. According to Peter Smith, “If suppliers find systems unfriendly to use and buyers difficult to work with, they may choose not to bid for contracts, and the buyer will suffer from a less dynamic and capable pool of potential suppliers”. Authorities also tend to be reactive rather than proactive. They simply issue tenders and hope that they will get a good response, rather than positively developing the market and a strong supplier base.

The paper concludes that buyers should consider matters from the supply side as well as their own. That means communicating opportunities openly and clearly; simplifying the process for suppliers to onboard and register for the eProcurement platform; providing support and training where necessary; making sure eProcurement systems are generally easy to use; running fair and transparent sourcing processes; and developing a community of suppliers, which ideally can be used by a number of contracting authorities.

The key message of the paper is the need to consider both buyers and sellers when looking at public procurement processes and technology. Technology and the accompanying support needs to focus on both sides of the transaction. But making this work well also requires effective change management – particularly if we need to help potential suppliers migrate from a manual approach or indeed from an outdated system.