Government procurement gets realpolitik

At last, we seem to have a Cabinet Minister that fully listens to advisers and the public. Full kudos to David Cunliffe who is one of the key government ministers to really understand the most significant issues in his portfolios.

Even better, he “gets” the shape of realistic outcomes for a knowledge based future as well as driving the Telecom broadband shake-out for example.  The broadband smackdown quite possibly has the single largest impact for future business on our “small rock in the Pacific (Thanks Rod).

Cunliffe is a future NZ Prime Minister in my opinion; and you read it here first. His portfolios are listed below.

The reason for the excitment is the appointment of David Sheppard to this realpolitik position; (although hard to tell from this yawn PR piece quoted just below.) 

“The Industry Capability Network has appointed industry veteran David Sheppard its first full-time ICT advisor. ICN, a business unit of Trade and Enterprise, was established to help companies realise their potential through access to local opportunities that grow their scale and capability, providing a foundation to move into global markets.”

I was fortunate to be at an informal group meeting with David Sheppard last week when he revealed himself to be a straight shooter with clear and pragmatic objectives for the new role.

Having personally worked on most of the egovernment bids and many other tender processes in this sector, it was refreshing to get some useful feedback.  Many of my clients have written off the government tender process as a waste of effort and that looks set to change for the better.

Sheppard offered some tips and pointers on how to improve our chances of shortlisting and gaining mindshare from the various stakeholders. These are my brief meeting notes and not direct quotes, however I trust they give an indication of the flavour and direction for this new ICN role.

Among the list were items like:

  1.  Many government bodies loathe the Tender process as much as we do
  2.  It is OK to trust the MNC (Multi National companies.) A real partnership with such vendors improves both our and their chances of winning; and they need local content and innovation as well.
  3.  If your response doesn’t comply – don’t expect to be considered. Put that extra content in the appendix – but don’t disqualify yourself. Bidding for government work is a slow and expensive process – make sure you don’t penalise your own team. 
  4.  Innovation and creativity is respected and prescriptive formats are more for reasons of safety than policy. Be innovative – but partner with a big buddy to cover the potential risks.
  5.  Talk to solution architects where you can about policies and preferences  as the CIO’s are more business oriented and rely on analysis from senior solution advisors.
  6.  If there is a problem – can you/we afford to fix it – which is why MNC’s are part of the answer.
  7.  Remember that THE key question is ‘will this project embarass the (relevant) Minister?’ – risk management is always part of the background capability assessment.
  8.  Check the criteria weighting on each tender. For example a positive sustainability angle may win you the deal. Sustainability as an issue is getting more important than ever.
  9.  Help with facilitating partnerships with Tier 1 company’s for larger deals and improved partnering practise generally.
  10.   Govt CIO’s meet in Forums twice a year to talk about their plans for the coming year – so that annual plan type objective are known in advance. (Thanks Ray)

There were also some other important policy improvements mentioned, which still require Cabinet approval and the direction of those changes is extremely significant.  The informal response from our meeting was – that we can expect much better results going forward if these new policies get the traction they deserve.

N.B – If Sheppard phones you for some of your valuable insight – take the call. This is a positive step forward for government procurement policy and Sheppard is empowered to get results.

The Industry Capability Network website is the place for updates on this policy change.

Also keep some free time for this upcoming event.

“The Digital Future Summit 2.0 on 28-29 November will explore how this country can maximise “being digital” to address the challenges of becoming a high-tech, high-value, creative economy and society.

Chief executives, and senior business and community leaders are urged to engage with this ‘call to action,’ which will result in a refreshed Digital Strategy for 2008 and beyond. ”