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All you need to know about Promises Registers

The Procurement Lifecycle provides a great model that demonstrates how Planning, Sourcing and Managing combine to support great procurement practice. But too often, different teams are responsible for each phase. This leads to a lack of continuity, as a procurement project moves through those critical phases.

Promises Registers are powerful emerging tools that help agencies and their procurement teams gain assurance that what’s planned, and then used to source suppliers – actually deliver the results that were sought.

Disconnects in the Procurement Lifecycle are a critical cause of poor procurement performance. Without solid planning, the procurement tools used to source suppliers don’t reflect the key drivers for value for money.

And without closing the loop between supplier selection (sourcing) and delivery (management) of the contract, the value promised by the successful supplier that won them the contract – is too often forgotten and lost.

Good procurement processes can’t work without strong connections between planning, sourcing and management. But too often those critical links are lost.

We’ve worked hard to stress that the link between planning and sourcing depends on great risk analysis – of supplier-controlled risks. Now it’s time to beef up the next interface – between sourcing and contract management.

Promises Registers are a powerful and effective way to formalise the undertakings that a successful contractor uses to score highly and win a contract. Used well, they make up the basis of the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that get monitored, measured and routinely reported – not only at the end of a project, but throughout its implementation.

When the preferred supplier is identified (but before final negotiations take place), the procurement team takes responsibility for working through the successful tender, focusing on the Non-Price Attributes and being mindful of any tags that have been accepted.

From that base, a list of the promises made is formalised. These may be very specific (e.g. “within the first three months following contract award, we will undertake a full condition audit of the asset and identify the priorities for repairs”) or somewhat looser (e.g. Our Project Manager will ensure that subcontractors are inducted to our H&S requirements onsite).

Specific Promises, naturally, need less work than those that are non-specific. The word-for-word promise is captured in a table, together with the action that will achieve it, the timeframe, who takes responsibility, and the evidence that’s needed for assurance.

Less specific promises may lead to some additional negotiations, to agree the actions, timeframes, people responsible and assurance evidence.

Once captured in a KPI framework, this should be included as a schedule to the contract – so that it forms a formal part of the agreed expectations.

Reporting can use a binary system (Achieved/ Not Achieved); or a traffic light system where progress towards achievement can be recorded in advance of full satisfaction of that element of the Promises Register. It’s worthwhile capturing any notes on progress and expectations for the next review meeting.

If your Promises Register forms the basis of performance reviews and ongoing management of the contract, Promises Registers are a very effective and streamlined way of providing assurance that the basis on which a supplier was selected, is actually achieved on a project.

They can also provide a formal basis for addressing any problem performance areas, through a formalised contractual structure that simply repeats critical aspects within the content of the winning tender.

A standard agenda item that reviews the Promises Register at regular contract meetings means that any performance concerns are accurately identified, discussed and mitigations developed in real time. That gives time to fix them, without escalating adverse effects and the costs for patching them up later.

The winning tenderer recognises that they are bound by the undertakings they said they would do in order to win; and the procurement team has confidence that those undertakings will be effectively managed by the contract delivery team and the engineer.

Any disappointed suppliers are reassured by the fact that the winning tenderer must be true to their word and live up to the statements they made to get the edge over their competition in the scooring.

Best of all, all parties can provide assurance to the funders that the procurement process effectively leads to satisfactory delivery of all of the elements covered by the contract, including the specific schedules.

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