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Mastering Procurement
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A consistent procurement process can help you manage supplier relationships. 

In small companies, procurement processes may be simple. You probably buy from the same suppliers routinely. If you have a problem, you know who to call. As you grow, though, you need more structure to keep getting positive results.

Before you request bids, check out the companies you'll invite to bid. Then, create a clear process for how suppliers will submit bids and what you will do as a result. Give your bidders a standard form to use in submitting bids so you can compare them easily. Include questions about the supplier's size, capabilities, years in the business, references and financial resources.

Write out a clear explanation to provide to the bidders, including a description of the supplier scoring method you'll use, based on your requirements for the product or service. Then, write out your requirements clearly and specifically, even if you think bidders already know what you want.

Be sure to:

  • Avoid peppering the bidding questionnaires with ambiguous or irrelevant questions.
  • Spell out your business need and detailed requirements for the product.
  • Provide FAQs and responses, and set a specific time--and specific people--to answer questions from bidders during the process.

Finally, consider making a site visit to the final two or three bidders. This gives you the opportunity to observe quality control processes, evaluate the protection and movement of inventory and find out what the employees are like within your soon-to-be supplier.

 


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