Understanding the Competitive Flexible Procedure: A New Approach to Procurement

Competitive-Flexible-Procedure

Discover how the Competitive Flexible Procedure can transform your procurement approach. Contact us for guidance on implementing this innovative method.

 

The Procurement Act 2023 might only come into effect in October 2024, but public sector buyers and suppliers should already be familiarising themselves with the new procurement rules and procedures. One change of particular importance is the Competitive Flexible Procedure (CFP). It’s designed for contracting authorities to adapt the procurement process to best suit the contract’s unique needs.

It also helps ensure that only the most qualified suppliers submit proposals. The procurement procedure is more efficient as less time is wasted assessing unsuitable bids.

In this article, we’re going to look at how the CFP enhances the procedure of procurement by saving buyers and suppliers time and money.

New Procurement Processes

Currently, the standard procurement procedure comprises eight identifiable tendering procedures, which is confusing, to say the least. The new Act cuts them down to two:

Open procedure: A single-stage process that lets bidders submit a tender response to advertised contracts (public contract notices).

CFP: “Any other” competitive tendering multi-stage procedure that government authorities consider appropriate for a specific contract.

Competitive Flexible Procedure Features

The primary feature is flexibility, naturally.

 

One of the features of the flexible process is that contracting authorities can tailor the contract. However, tailoring goes a step further.

Public procurement buyers can change or refine the award criteria at each stage of the process.

This doesn’t mean they can go hog wild and introduce a string of increasingly complex requirements. Far from it. Simplicity is the name of the game, especially if buyers are targeting SMEs. The aim here is to encourage SMEs to participate in the process and that’s impossible if there are barriers throughout the procurement cycle.

Additional Features Include

There are four other important features resulting from public procurement reform.

1) Tender notices

Tender notices can also be broken into two procedures.

  • In this first instance, contracting authorities invite suppliers to submit a request to tender.
  • In the second instance, authorities invite suppliers to submit a tender.

In essence, both processes enable buyers to control the number of suppliers who can submit tender responses.

2) Award criteria

Public sector buyers can refine the contract’s criteria at any stage during the government procurement procedure. However, they must ensure suppliers know about this possibility in the tender notice and tender documents.

How buyers can refine the criteria is limited. Changes can only be made specifically to the selection criteria and/or the weighting of criteria. No other refinements are allowed. 

It’s important to note that the changes must be republished and recorded in the tender notice and tender documents.

3) Outcomes focussed

The new flexible approach, with limited tender submissions, allows buyers to evaluate candidates carefully, paying extra attention to the tender that offers the best overall value.

This is one of the new requirements in the Procurement Act. MAT (most advantageous tender) is out and MEAT (most economically advantageous tender) is in. For example, tenders that offer more efficient, cost-saving processes over and above the contract award requirements are preferred. 

Social value is also important. Social value projects or initiatives have a minimum 10% weighting value, although some contracting authorities push it up to 15 per cent.

4) Collaboration

The Act also emphasises collaboration, which can be achieved through:

Transparency: Contracting authorities are required to publish updated procurement notices at several stages in the contract lifecycle. All interested parties have access to the updated procurement data, which helps suppliers identify collaboration opportunities they would ordinarily miss.

Collaboration enables suppliers to combine skill sets and offer a wider range of services to compete for contracts that would usually be out of reach. More suppliers or conglomerates drive competition, which benefits all parties invested in the various public sector fields.

 

Buyers and suppliers can also collaborate on contracts and create innovative procurement solutions for challenges up and down the supply chain.

How The Competitive Flexible Procedure Benefits Buyers

The CFP provides several benefits for public sector buyers. We’re going to look at four of the main benefits below.

Innovation

Innovation is born of collaboration, but there are plenty of roads to industry advancement and development.

A crowded supplier pool, for instance, makes it difficult for suppliers to attract attention and stand a chance of competing for contracts. Innovation is one of the best ways to rise above the crowd. 

Suppliers must think outside of the proverbial box to meet a need, even if that need goes unnoticed. For example, a contracting authority might consider its procurement process to be pretty efficient. However, a supplier could discover an even more efficient, cost-effective process that goes hand-in-hand with their solution to the contract.

The supplier’s value to the contracting authority goes through the roof.

Streamlined Processes

 

Buyers have more autonomy and control in Competitive Flexible Procurement. Part of this extends to limiting the number of suppliers who submit bids. 

Sending ITTs (Invitations To Tender) to preselected suppliers saves time during public sector procurement by eliminating the initial (prolonged) evaluation process as buyers sift through dozens of bids to find those suitable for the contract. (Although this is often automated.) 

As a result of the time saved, the procurement process becomes more cost-effective and saves buyers money. 

Tailoring contracts is another way to streamline procurement processes.

The more precisely tailored the award criteria, the lower the chances of unsuitable suppliers submitting bids for the contract. Again, time is saved by not sifting through dozens of suppliers who ‘took a chance’ to find suppliers that meet requirements to the T.

Risk Mitigation

Transparency in the CFP creates opportunities for buyers to spot risks on the horizon. They can take steps to avoid or reduce the impact on their supply chain.

Collaboration is also a good way to manage risks because buyers can play an active role in the solution to risks that arise. 

Informed Decision-Making

The trimmed-down and autonomous nature of the Competitive Flexible Process has positive knock-on effects for the entire public procurement lifecycle, including informed, streamlined decision-making for contract authorities.

Furthermore, data gathered throughout the process is analysed by advanced analytics programmes to deliver insights that also provide decision-makers with the information they need to quickly make informed decisions.

Competitive Flexible Procedure Transforms Your Procurement Approach

The Competitive Flexible Procurement process is designed to do wonders for government buyers, but it works even better when combined with advanced eSourcing and eProcurement systems.

Delta eSourcing provides an eTender portal that centralises all procurement activities, transactions, and interactions. The portal ensures data transparency and encourages collaboration for innovation and cost-savings. We also have an analytics tool, Delta Market Analytics, so you have access to data insights that enable intelligent decision-making.

Find out all the ways the CFP can work for you, enhancing operations and boosting your bottom line. Contact us for guidance on implementing this innovative method.

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