Procurement is about people

The public sector usually sees procurement as a selection process carried out by a procurement officer ‘according to the rules’.

Similar barriers can occur in the private sector, based on personal preferences rather than official guidelines. The arcane interpretation of procurement ‘rules’ even leads to some clients being denied the opportunity to sit on selection boards because they might be ‘conflicted’. To deny the opportunity for interaction at the selection stage between two parties who will be completely dependent on each other for a period of years is a recipe for failure.

This kind of scenario is based on a misunderstanding of the procurement process. One of the best ways of breaking down the barriers and making more subtle judgments is to hold a design competition. As long as there is the right degree of transparency about the decision-making, a competition is entirely compliant with any accountable procurement process. The procurement officer can act as an observer and auditor to assist those with the responsibility for delivery.

Getting the right people and team on board according to your risks, your objectives and your people is the goal. When selecting a designer we recommend that clients allow plenty of time for the process, with opportunities to visit offices and past projects, and that whole teams be selected rather than architects first and others later. This gives you the opportunity to sense the dynamic of the team in the way it presents.