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12.4: Procurement Process

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  • Learning Objectives

    1. Describe the components of the procurement plan.
    2. Identify the decisions made when selecting the type of contract.
    3. Describe how bidders are qualified, solicited, and chosen.
    4. Identify the methods used to manage the contracts.

    The project procurement cycle reflects the procurement activities from the decision to purchase the material or service through the payment of the bills and closing of procurement contracts.

    Procurement Plan

    After the decision has been made to purchase goods or outsource services, the procurement team develops a plan that includes the following:

    • Selecting the appropriate relationships and contract approaches for each type of purchased goods or outsourced service
    • Preparing RFQs and RFPs and evaluating partnership opportunities
    • Evaluating RFQs, RFPs, and partnerships
    • Awarding and signing contracts
    • Managing quality, timely performance, and contract changes
    • Closing contracts

    Depending on the complexity level of the project, each of these steps can take either hours or sometimes weeks of work to complete. Each of these steps is also included in the project master schedule. The time involved in the procurement cycle can influence the scheduling of critical activities, including the decision to self-perform the work or contract the work to others. The equipment and materials deliveries and completion of contracted work dates are placed on the project schedule and any procurement activities that create a project delay or fall on the project critical path may require special attention.

    Selecting the Contract Approach

    The technical teams typically develop a description of the work that will be outsourced. From this information, the project management team answers the following questions:

    • Is the required work or materials a commodity, customized product or service, or unique skill or relationship?
    • What type of relationship is needed: supplier, vendor, or partnership?
    • How should the supplier, vendor, or potential partner be approached: RFQ, RFP, or personal contact?
    • How well known is the scope of work?
    • What are the risks and which party should assume which types of risk?
    • Does the procurement of the service or goods affect activities on the project schedule’s critical path and how much float is there on those activities?
    • How important is it to be sure of the cost in advance?

    The procurement team uses the answers to the first three questions listed above to determine the approach to obtaining the goods or services and the remaining questions to determine what type of contract is most appropriate.

    A key factor in selecting the contract approach is determining which party will take the most risk. The team determines the level of risk that will be managed by the project and what risks will be transferred to the contractor. Typically, the project management team wants to manage the project risk, but in some cases, contractors have more expertise or control that enable them to be better positioned to manage the risk associated with the contracted work.

    Weather Risk on Concrete Contract

    On a construction contract, the concrete supplier will not be penalized for schedule delays caused by weather because the project team has more options for making up weather delays than the concrete supplier. The risk associated with weather remains with the project and not transferred through the contract.

    The contractor knows more about the risks associated with obtaining the raw materials used to make concrete and assumes the risk of delays caused by shortages of those materials.