In part one of our Are You Ready for an EPR? series, HCIs Dave Lang began to touch what an organisation should be looking at before deciding whether or not they are ready to implement an EPR – engaging with your organisation, making sure your senior stakeholders are involved, and making your healthcare facility aware of what is possible.
In part two of our series, we take another step forward, and cover what goes into starting your procurement – what questions you should be able to address, what type of procurement is best for your organisation, and how to go about assembling your procurement team.
1) Questions to Ask Before You Begin Procurment
The first question you should ask yourself when starting your procurement process is simple: Why are we procuring an EPR? At this stage, you should have a firm understanding of why an EPR will be important to your Trust including identifying some of the many benefits that will have been uncovered during your engagement phase and your ongoing discussions with the senior executive team. It is now important to be able to express this in words, so that you will be able to share this requirement with potential suppliers. When you meet with these potential suppliers, you will need to have already taken a look at the local health community and their solutions, and know exactly what you plan to do with your procurement and how this will fit into the strategic plans for your area. Transparency as to what you plan to do and accomplish through your procurement is vital to avoiding challenges down the road with these potential suppliers.
In order to be transparent, however, it is also important to know: What is it that we want, exactly, and how will we evaluate the supplier offering? If it is about benefits, how will we evaluate these benefits? If it is purely having to do with price, what is our pricing model? These are important questions to ask because they will ultimately shape the individuals that are on your procurement team. If you are focusing more on price, for example, you will need more members from your financial department to be a part of the procurement team. Knowing the answers to questions such as these will make finding the right suppliers much easier, and will allow you to have a better understanding of what type of procurement is best for you.
2) Deciding What Type of Procurement is Best For You
What type of procurement is best for your organisation? There are legal guidelines that must be followed during a procurement. This includes following the EU guidelines, and going through their process – a process in which there is no way around. We encourage our clients to seek outside advice from consultancies and Trusts who have gone through a similar procurement.
If none of the resources on your procurement team have any prior procurement experience, then go out and find individuals who do. These individuals will have an understanding of the best procurement vehicle for delivering what you are looking to achieve, and can assist in helping you realise your vision. The goal is to mitigate as many challenges to your procurement as possible, whilst achieving the best result for both you and the suppliers. Remember any halt to your procurement can cost all parties a great deal of money.
3) Building Your Procurement Team
Once you have addressed the necessary questions to determine exactly what type of procurement will work best for your organisation, you can shift your focus to your procurement team. At this stage, you will still need commitment and oversight from the executive team, so they will need to be involved. You will need to have access to your service experts at all times, and a commitment from your executive team will gain you that access. Remember, you need to be dedicated to your procurement. Your organisation can sink or swim based on the outcome of your procurement, so it must be taken very seriously from all levels of your healthcare facility, e.g. ‘the Biggest Game in town’.
In addition to the commitment and oversight of your executive team, you will also need a full-time lead – ideally someone that can take your procurement through to delivery. This individual does not necessarily need to be a clinician, but it does need to be someone with project management skills. This full-time lead will also need clinical input from doctors, nurses, and other various professions. A part-time doctor and a full-time nurse should be the absolute minimum that you require, and it is strongly recommended to have people from you internal procurement team available to the project-lead.
While a procurement is most certainly a clinically-led project, it is still important to ensure you have IT support to evaluate the technical aspect of the system. You will also need someone from finance to keep track of your expenses and budget, and legal support to review your contracts. Lastly, it will be vital to include external support from an experienced consultancy. External support can be the difference between a successful and non-successful procurement, and they will go a long way in making sure that you are on time and on budget.
Before you start the procurement, don’t forget the detail. It will be the Trust’s responsibility to provide a suitable neutral venue (from a supplier’s perspective) for any planned meetings. You will also need to provide the appropriate hospitality and a scribe for the meetings, so good admin support is essential.
Once you have accomplished all of these tasks, your Trust can hold a supplier briefing day in which you can lay out exactly what you want, as well as a timetable for your procurement. Having this comprehensive plan will help to narrow down the potential suppliers that will be the best fit for you during your procurement process, which will save you precious time. After this has been done you can post your OJEU notice, which will signify the official start of the procurement.
Congratulations! Your procurement has officially begun.
Make sure to subscribe to our blog in order to find out what goes in to the next step on your EPR journey, and to be notified as to when Dave Lang discusses procurement and contract awards in part three of our Are You Ready for an EPR? series.