Market review

Consider whether a ‘state of the market report’ is of real value when they can be provided as part of a wider service. There are various markets where professional purchasing operates. All have a finite number of suppliers and in some cases the list is relatively short, e.g. buy-in providers. Getting to a short list should be a small step following an initial requirements gathering exercise.

Value propositions

Once the market is understood and the list of providers known, work can begin to map business requirements to the best fit providers. The best way of doing this is through a Request for Proposal which should be shaped to the particular circumstances of each case. Evaluating the proposals received teases out the differentiating factors and provides an initial ranking of those who bid.

Meets and greets

Meeting with the bidders provides an opportunity for bidders to get under the skin of the requirements through a Q&A session with stakeholders. If handled properly, this works well and carries many benefits.
Another opportunity to meet is after the bids have been evaluated and the best bidders have emerged. This is usually in the form of presentations. Site visits often help to support the process, especially for transactional services such as Pensions Administration or Flex Benefits.

Preferred suppliers

The final steps to select the preferred supplier are rarely easy. Many factors influence the decision and some propositions can be very close in the final analysis. Expert guidance will help at this vital stage – there’s nothing wrong with seeking more input if it’s a close call. Of course, sometimes a preferred supplier stands head and shoulders above the rest – it’s rare, but it does happen.