Use the system, don’t fight it

Written by: Callie

Posted on June 15, 2016

Retail is easy – no, wait, bear with me. Customer arrives, chooses, pays, leaves with goods. A couple of minutes, job done. Online, it is just as easy, just as quick, no need to leave the armchair. Buying or selling a power station, however, normally takes a little longer and involves a slightly more complex process. Most business dealings lie somewhere between these extremes, but one fact is constant at every level.

The more you know about the relevant procurement process, the easier and faster it becomes to carry out a transaction.

Public sector procurement has never enjoyed a good reputation, which may not be entirely fair. Opinions are polarised on the influence of EU membership, although nobody has ever suggested that procurement has become any faster. One certainty is that the increasing emphasis on sustainability has hardly streamlined the processes. While we are in the mood to be fair, there is one good thing to be said for Europe’s bureaucrats. However high the compliance mountain, the processes are typically clear and well documented. The challenge is not necessarily in having the energy to climb, but in knowing the route to take.

So, three hearty cheers for the European Commission. Yes, seriously. It has just overhauled its main guide on how, in order to meet sustainability goals, the EU’s public sector bodies should procure goods and services. No civil servant can claim to be unsure of how to be green when buying, because it is all laid out for them.

This is not just good news for the public sector, but for anyone wanting to sell into it. When you prepare to pitch to a local authority or government department, you know that an endless array of hoops lies in wait. Jumping through them will be much less challenging if, knowing in advance what they are and when they will appear, you are ready for them.

Whether or not you are pitching your wares with sustainability in mind, you can expect that to be high on the agenda of the public servant upon whom your sights are trained. Having all the answers ready will help them to clear their own hurdles, with the bonus of impressing upon them that they are dealing with a thorough, professional organisation.