Thumbnail image for Pumezo1.jpgThe Council of the European Union (EU) placed a renewed focus on public e-Procurement when it adopted directives for the reform of public procurement in February 2014.

Globally, governments have been pursuing initiatives to affect good governance and the “smart expenditure” of limited funds. They have pursued the implementation of a more effective procurement system and, in many cases, an electronic procurement system.

However, one can become so enamoured of the technology that one forgets what it is all about: it is about people, says Pumezo Gulwa, Director of the eCommerce Centre in the Office of the Chief Procurement Office, sharing one of the lessons National Treasury learned in implementing eProcurement.

The deadlines associated with the EU’s directives may mirror the technology goals of many governments (increased transparency and competition, for example), but governments’ objectives remain delivering goods and services in the most efficient manner, so that people will benefit from it.

eProcurement is a tool for procurement practitioners to help governments. Better technology allows greater transparency in the procurement process, to make it more accessible and to make better decision-making easier for procurement practitioners.

Skilled staff

Skilled procurement staff are crucial to a well-functioning eProcurement system. This means that we need to recruit skilled staff and that we need to continuously train procurement staff. This training can include classroom training, on-the-job training and mentorship. The objective is to professionalise SCM practice in government to a larger degree.

Private sector engagement

Government can learn from the private sector in areas where the private sector has advanced in terms of electronic bid management. This could result in a long-term partnerships where best practice can be shared.

Stakeholder engagement

It is important to keep the private sector and potential suppliers up to date with developments. This helps to shape the expectations of the private sector and creates better understanding of the changes taking place. Without the commitment and goodwill of the business community, eProcurement applications cannot be successful.

A government’s priority is to make life better for the country’s people.

eProcurement is actually people, whose activities are made more effective by a system, which enables them to achieve their priority.

National Treasury will share more of its eProcurement lessons in the 2016 SmartProcurement Review, which will be available in a few weeks.