Plan an industry engagement

By properly planning an industry engagement you can maximise its effectiveness and minimise risks.
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What you need to know
  1. Every industry engagement should be planned.
  2. The extent of your planning should depend on the nature of the engagement and your goals.
  3. Your planning should include developing a 3-part strategy.
  4. Proper planning involves consulting both internal and external stakeholders.
  5. You should include your planning research in a Procurement Knowledge Bank (PKB).

Why planning matters

Planning helps you achieve greater efficiency and better outcomes by:

  • setting boundaries and expectations around the nature of what you’re doing and what you want to achieve
  • giving a process for assessing and managing any risks
  • more accurately forecasting the resources you’ll need
  • setting a realistic timetable
  • communicating your objectives and process to suppliers.

What to consider

The level and type of planning you undertake should depend on:

  • the engagement’s subject matter, and
  • what you want to achieve.

For example, you may be looking to understand a market’s dynamics and structure.  This may not need as much detailed planning as a targeted industry engagement forming part of a specific procurement.

Generally, as part of your planning you should consider:

  • whether a market exists at all
  • the fundamental economics, business characteristics and competitive framework of the market
  • the supply and demand trends within the market
  • whether the market supplies similar organisations and, if so, what their supply models look like
  • the strengths and weaknesses of the NSW Government’s position in the market
  • the resources available for conducting industry engagement
  • any risks, including risks to concurrent procurement activities.

Industry engagement strategy

Once you have considered these factors, develop a 3-part strategy. This should underpin your subsequent industry engagement.

Part 1. Describes what you will discuss in the engagement process.

Part 2. Explains how your agency will conduct itself during the industry engagement process.

Part 3. Describes how you expect suppliers to act. This is especially important where a supplier hasn’t previously supplied to NSW Government.

Always communicate the relevant parts of your strategy to suppliers before the engagement.

Set clear expectations around how agency staff should act, including communicating the importance of the Code of Conduct.

Innovation in your industry engagement strategy

To make sure your strategy encourages innovation, consider:

  • whether each engagement exercise provides scope for innovative procurement approaches to emerge and that you have plans for dealing with these approaches
  • whether your procurement processes are open to innovation and encourage the market to offer solutions that are:
    • more productive
    • a better fit for government’s needs,
    • more cost- and resource-efficient.

The more detail your can provide about future needs, the more likely you are to encourage innovation. You should be aware that this also brings risks, especially to intellectual property.

What to cover in your planning

Proper planning means engaging both internal and external stakeholders to:

  • provide insight and context into your agency’s needs and objectives, as well as into its engagement with the sector
  • uncover likely challenges and encourage discussion within your agency about whether current services, products or solutions really meet your objectives
  • help you understand the limitations of existing products and solutions and any difficulties in managing suppliers,
  • uncover desired improvements, needs and outcomes.

Who should plan your industry engagement

In most cases, your agency’s staff are best placed to plan an industry engagement strategy.

Using in-house knowledge and insights, they can carry out a basic analysis of the supply chain and the broader industry. This can include assessing industry and agency developments.

When you’re planning, it’s always important to engage with the people within the agency who use the goods or services under review. Frontline staff can usually give you important insights into:

  • the history, characteristics and underlying features of your agency’s needs
  • the “what and why” of current buying approaches,
  • suppliers, products and services.

The importance of background research

As part of your planning, you should also use background research to help you better understand your position. Include any information you gain through this process in a Procurement Knowledge Database (PKB).

Be sure to detail:

  • what has worked
  • what hasn’t worked
  • what solutions have and haven’t been effective,
  • any other relevant information.