Competitive dialogue enables agile public procurement

During the past year, I have had the pleasure of assisting one of our most well-known authorities in the procurement of new system support for budget and forecasting. The project, which was started two years ago, has been implemented after the completion of the feasibility study and procurement through the introduction of the selected system support.

Like so many other organizations, the management had decided to provide a self-developed tool as, over time, it became increasingly difficult to keep the solution up to date within a reasonable budget. Instead, they aimed at a so-called standard system. However, choosing new system support is not easy. It is even more complicated if the election is to be carried out in accordance with the Public Procurement Act (LOU). This is because LOU traditionally requires that the organization should be able to specify exactly what functions are requested during the procurement phase. That is, before you know the possibilities that the tools hold in the form of more efficient and more efficient flows and working methods.

However, my client chose a different, less restrictive, and more agile way forward. Instead of using existing framework agreements, the management decided to carry out a procurement of its own and then with a new and untested procurement methodology, competitive dialogue (KPD) for the organization. The method means that the contracting organization does not have to have a clear requirements specification when starting the project. The whole purpose is that selected suppliers and the client can discuss the needs and test different forms of solutions in a dialogue phase before the formal part of the procurement starts. This means that when compiling a request documentation and requirements specification, you have a much better idea of what the market has to offer and what a solution can look like.

For the best possible outcomes, so-called “Proof of Concept” exercises were conducted to test the solutions with realistic conditions. Following an open application process, three suppliers were chosen to participate in the dialogue phase. These were given access to a data source with general ledger and statistics that one could use to configure their systems. Each supplier demonstrated their solutions during a total of five dialogue meetings with different themes and representatives from the organization. After each meeting the impressions were discussed and summarized. The KPD method also means that you can opt out of solutions that you believe will not be able to meet future requirements. Following dialogue three, the number of suppliers was thus reduced to two, who were then invited to submit tenders.

In summing up the entire process of the KPD procedure it can be found that it has been very positive. The dialogue phase has enabled an assessment of both systems and of the suppliers' organization and capacity, with a great deal of involvement from the authority's employees. Furthermore, this wide involvement has created a positive side effect in that the organization's change work could be started at an early stage.

For my own part, I look forward to guiding more organizations through the method as it enables public companies, like the private side, to assess alternative solutions and test different IT tools before choosing the most effective and efficient way of working. The method places slightly higher demands on documentation, communication and equal treatment than the traditional procedures, but it is offset by a clearly greater added value for the business.