How to Plan Procurements on the Project

Plan procurements imagePlan Procurements process is about looking at ALL of the work involved in your project, and deciding which ones are to be given out to vendors.

Once these are identified, next 2 processes of Project Procurement knowledge area are going to be performed for each of these contracts – that is, conducting and closing procurements.

For example, Kathy from Landscaping project may have one contract for laying of jogging tracks, one for supplying exotic plants and one for getting manual labor with a contractor.

We need a ton of things for this planning

There are quite a lot of them. But they are very logical, and you can remember them easily.

In a way procurement is like beginning a project, only that some other team is going to work on it and deliver it to you.

Considering procurement to beginning of a project, we need all those documents that are available at the beginning of the project.

Which are easy to remember.

Project charter, business case, benefits management plan – they contain the information about project components that are needed. At the high level we can see whether we have internal capability to produce them or we need to procure from outside.

Then we need a bunch of plans that are relevant to procurement, let us see which are they.

  • Scope management plan – we’ve established the process of gathering scope in this plan.
  • Quality management plan – we need to understand how quality measurements and assurance processes impact our needs of procurement.
  • Resource management plan – do we have the ability and plan to gather and manage resources needed for those components of the project that may be outsourced?

Apart from these we also need scope baseline – which contains project scope statement, WBS and WBS dictionary to understand about ALL of the work expected to be done in the project. And this includes the work that would be outsourced (or, ‘procured’).

Similar to how a project can produce Product, Service or Result, contracting or purchasing decision too could be for a Product, Service or Result.

Then a bunch of project documents. Don’t worry, we need only those that help us decide about procurements.

Milestone list – has important milestones and expected dates (possibly).

Resource requirements tell you the identified list of resources for the project. Can we get all these resources in-house? This helps make the decision about procurement when the time comes.

We’ll know who is available and who is not – in order to decide whether we can attempt the possibility of making those components that are candidates for procurement. This is available in project team assignments.

Requirements documentation has the reference about what customer wants. Project management team will need to look at these inputs and determine whether performing organization has the skills available internally to execute the work. Any gap here will indicate possibility of contract work. So is requirement traceability matrix – which tells how every deliverable is mapped to a particular requirement.

Risk register – when you contract any work out to a vendor, some of your risks may be transferred to the vendor (however from overall project perspective you will still have them). Procurements may also bring in some additional risks because someone else is doing the work now, and these should be added to the risk register, their responses have to be planned.

Stakeholder register contains interests and influence levels of stakeholders in the project, and it should be studied while contracting out any work.

Contract types

There are three contract types – Fixed Price, Cost Plus and Time and Material, that you can consider. Each of these have a different approach to how risk is shared between seller and buyer. Lot rides on the type of contract you choose, so talking to an expert on this one will help immensely.

It is possible to abuse the buyer-seller relationship by selecting a wrong contract type. Hence, one thing to keep in mind is to choose a contract type that is fair to both buyer and seller, the one that creates win-win scenario for both.

  • Fixed Price contract is the one where cost of product, service or result is fixed up front. Any additional expenses incurred in producing the deliverables are assumed by the seller.
  • Cost Plus contract is also called Cost Reimbursable. This means that buyer pays seller all the cost incurred in building the product, service or result, and some incentive for having done the work.
  • Time and Material (T&M) is a hybrid type of contract where buyer assumes all the cost of materials used, and pays a rate for the time taken to carry out the work.

A detailed understanding of different types of contracts is essential for procurement. Read about various types of Contracts used in contract management process.

How do we plan procurements, again?

Call in the experts!

Yes, at every step of planning process we will utilize the expertise available (may be even get from outside?). This can save us lot of heartache and expense at later stages. We can look at experts on the team, outside the team on other projects, in PMO, procurement department of the organization, or if needed in the form of external consultants.

They can give inputs on technical aspects, or legalities of contract, regulation and compliance, or help in setting up vendor evaluation criteria. If you are doing it for the first time, it is better to get as many experts to help you as possible.

Vendor analysis – We do some market research to find who in the industry has the capabilities of doing the work we want to contract out. It is possible that the team working on procurement decisions may want to fine-tune the procurement objectives to take advantages of technological advances.

For instance, Kathy may learn about an advanced earth digging equipment that does her work in half the time as compared to conventional method but at additional cost. She may change procurement objective to allow for additional procurement budget.

Make-or-Buy analysis is sort of a data analysis technique. It’s about figuring out whether you want to buy a service/product or create/build it yourself. If the required skills are not available internally, or they are available but being used by some other project, you may decide to contract the work to vendor.

If it is heavy machinery or even expensive software, you may decide whether to buy it or lease it. Sometimes budgeting constraints or company policies about procurement may also influence make-or-buy decision.

Considering our example of Landscaping project that Kathy is managing, she decides to get excavator machinery on lease, and contract out the work of fixing the jogging track. She also decides to buy the required exotic plants (she arrived at this decision using Decision tree in Perform Qualitative Risk Analysis process) rather than growing on her own.

Source selection analysis is about identifying criteria to evaluate vendors to shortlist and finally award contract to. Cost is usually one of the criteria to consider, so is quality of output that is expected.

Past performance of the vendor can help us decide on the risk factor of signing up a vendor. If the work to be outsourced is specialized work then we may also decide to look for some qualification of the vendor.

Meetings with potential bidder of procurement items or service might turn out to be mutually beneficial.

What’s in a procurement management plan?

Contractor, subcontractor, vendor, service provider, or supplier – they all mean SELLER.
Client, customer, prime contractor, acquiring organization, service requester, or purchaser – they all mean BUYER.

Procurement management plan describes how whole procurement processes will be carried out – from sending out request for proposal (RFP) to making payments to closing the contract.

It contains the following information –

  • Contract types used for each of the work you want to contract out
  • What are the additional risks and how are they managed
  • What is the criteria to evaluate seller responses
  • What is the criteria to measure deliverables of each contracted work, and the metrics to be used to evaluate performance
  • References to organization’s standard policy, guidelines, processes, templates to be used
  • How does estimate activity resources and develop schedule processes are impacted due to make-or-buy decisions
  • What are the project management, performance related and deliverable related documentation to be provided by the seller for each of the contract
  • List of any pre-qualified vendors to be considered during procurement processes
  • Procurement metrics to evaluate sellers
  • Any assumptions or constraints that may affect procurement process
  • Any standard procurement documents available in organizational process assets
  • Approach to deal with multiple suppliers if the project ends up requiring multiple suppliers

Procurement statements of work – Just as you get project statement of work as the very first document to start the project, you would create one for the seller’s team.

Where do you get the inputs for preparing procurement statement of work (SOW)?

From the Scope Baseline.

You would consider the part of baseline that deals with the work to be contracted out. There will be other tools like bidder conferences to answer questions from potential vendors, however the initial SOW should be complete and concise. Each individual procurement needs a separate SOW. SOW can be refined or detailed until it turns into a contract.

Bid documents are used to ask prospective vendors to send their proposals for the work. These are called as request for proposal (RFP), request for bid (RFB), invitation for bid (IFB), request for information (RFI), request for quotation (RFQ), or tender notice – based on the industry.

The words bid, tender, or quotation are used when selection criteria is based on price. Rest of the words are used when selection criteria include other considerations like technical expertise, domain expertise, or previous experiences of doing similar work.

Apart from this, these are sent to potential vendors: statement of work, format of response expected, and timeline by which response is expected.

Source selection criteria lets you decide which vendor to award the contract.

Typically this is included as part of procurement documents. For certain items such as software or physical goods, price alone could be selection criteria. But for others there could be many, such as the following capacity of the vendor or seller –

  • Technical capability
  • Financial capacity to produce deliverables
  • Project management capability
  • Previous experience with similar projects
  • How much risk can the vendor assume?
  • References about potential vendors that his earlier customers can provide
  • Ability to protect your intellectual property
  • Warranty period of the product

Make-or-buy decisions – this is the decision you took after using make-or-buy analysis technique. You would document the decisions about buying the product, service or result from outside project organization. Along with this you would document the reasoning for those decisions.

Change requests may be raised when you study so many input documents. Change requests may be raised for any of the subsidiary plans studied, risk register, schedule or cost baselines, or in lesser probability even for requirements documents. Such change requests will be taken through change control board (CCB) using Perform Integrated Change Control process.

Project documents updates – documents such as risk register and requirements documentation may be updated.

Click here for a detailed post on different types of contracts.

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