Leading Questions, Better Procurement

Contract Finder Pro’s Sandy Boxall explains why CEOs should ensure that modern business development teams need to be included in any digital transformation programme.

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I found myself in my local bookshop the other day. Browsing for books – both new and second-hand – is one of life’s great pleasures but on this occasion, I couldn’t help but notice the sheer volume of leadership books on display. 

Perhaps the pandemic has prompted a rush on self-help manuals or maybe there has always been a thirst for such content. Such books are clearly tailored to a booming market and, when you think about it, perhaps that shouldn’t be a surprise.

After all, it doesn’t matter if you lead a small business made up of a handful of employees or a multi-national with thousands in your employ, there will always be challenges to overcome, an example to set and myriad priorities to juggle. For those chief executives leading larger organisations, theirs is a particularly bulging in-tray. Business development, external communications, delivering efficiencies and making a profit are all guaranteed to keep them moving from dawn to dusk. And that’s without even considering bigger picture items such as digital transformation. 

Delivering on digital

For some time now, digital has been seen as a kind of cure-all to any organisational woe – a testament, perhaps, to the rapid pace of technological development.  The pandemic also demonstrated the value of technology beyond all measures. From strengthening vaccine development to enabling video calls, streaming entertainment to online retail and food deliveries, we’ve all got cause to be grateful to the coders, designers and developers who keep bringing new advances down the pike. But accessing technology is one thing, effectively using it to drive transformational change is quite another. Transformations simply won’t work if one part of an organisation is using technology in one way and another is looking in an alternative direction, or not transforming at all. Digital transformations require individuals and teams, departments and business units, be aligned and pull in the same direction. 

To that end, it is incumbent on CEOs to set a positive, empowering tone and ensure their teams are operating in sync. But not only that, they need to ensure that their organisations can harvest the full array of digital dividends on offer. Business Development and sales teams are an often ignored area for transforming – and not least because salespeople like to trust little black books of contacts and conferences with networking – but modernising their business development programmes should be a clear priority for any leader seeking increased profits. 

That’s because, in hyper-competitive markets, organisations can simply not afford to miss out on opportunities or tenders due to their reliance on old school techniques rather than modern digital tools. At my own company, Contract Finder Pro, we’ve noticed in our demos to customers that businesses routinely fail to be on all the frameworks they should, or could be – and this costs them money. 

This means that tools such as our frameworks tracker, which enables users to learn more about the 8,000 frameworks and 2,000 dynamic purchasing systems the government uses, are now all the more crucial – and CEOs need to make sure their business development teams are seizing every tool at their disposal to get an edge on the competition. 

Industrial revolution 

The good news is while we continue to grapple with the shifting shape of the pandemic, public sector opportunities have thankfully remained plentiful, with over 100,000 open tenders worth more than £250Bn issued by the UK and Republic of Ireland governments within the last 12 months.

While who you know is still important in any procurement, the process is becoming ever more digital, with more tenders moving online and industry open days and other one-to-one interactions becoming an ever more digital experience.

The sheer scale of this conversion to all things digital means that now, more than ever, businesses need to industrialise their business winning processes. This will enable them to reap digital dividends, such as using technology to streamline procedures and increase their own efficiency, and in the process save their precious time to do the things that cannot be streamlined – such as the human interaction that can often secure the golden nugget of information that secures the win.

An online treasure trove of information is now available, on both the market and on new opportunities that organisations would wish to bid for. Using data feeds, market trackers and integrating both outsourced (like bid writers and legal teams) and insourced components and services, the business winning process can become increasingly automated and slick. 

Since there is never quite enough time to write a bid, those organisations that can automate the process most effectively and take advantage of the digital opportunity at hand will be more competitive than those that don’t. Their reward will be larger market shares and the promise of even more competitive advantage still to come. The future really is digital.

About the author:

Sandy Boxall is the founder and Managing Director of Contract Finder Pro


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