What is industry engagement?

Industry engagement is at the core of how an agency becomes an informed buyer.
On this page
What you need to know
  1. Industry engagement helps you to become an informed buyer and in tune with what’s happening in the marketplace.
  2. Industry engagement helps you align your procurement activities with current and emerging industry activity.
  3. Industry engagement can be separate from the 'Plan, Source, Manage' procurement process or part of your planning stage.
  4. There are different forms of industry engagement. What’s likely to work best will depend on your circumstances.
  5. Every agency should undertake industry engagement.
  6. Both your agency and your suppliers should ultimately benefit from it.

What is industry engagement

Industry engagement is at the core of how an agency becomes, and derives benefit from, being an informed buyer. It involves you exploring the capabilities of suppliers and potential suppliers to provide the goods and services you’re likely to need.

When you’ve done this, you can create, confirm or build on the government’s knowledge base about an industry.

Ideally, you should be carrying out industry engagement separate to any individual procurement. But you can also initiate it during the procurement process.

Why industry engagement matters

Industry engagement should help you align your procurement activities with current and emerging industry activity. It can also help you better manage your relationships with potential suppliers.

Industry engagement should influence the way you procure goods or services (known as process management). The way you manage that procurement and the resulting contracts (known as transaction management) should, in turn, influence your industry engagement strategy.

Benefits of industry engagement

Industry engagement helps you align your procurement activities with current and emerging industry activity. It can also help you better manage your relationships with potential suppliers – a core part of the procurement cycle.

Industry engagement should influence the way you procure goods or services (known as process management). The way you manage that procurement and its contracts (known as transaction management) should, in turn, influence your industry engagement strategy.

When done properly, industry engagement:

  • gives you an informed understanding of the industries and suppliers with which you do business, including insights into their capabilities
  • helps you understand how your needs are currently being met and what potential there is for better meeting them
  • lets you explore new ways to meet your needs and reduce your procurement costs

It should also help suppliers with their forward planning, as they'll better understand:

  • your current and anticipated needs
  • that you’re interested in encouraging competition, especially between smaller and larger businesses
  • that you’re committed to exploring and encouraging innovation
  • the volume of goods or services they need to produce to meet your needs.

Industry engagement can also ensure non-incumbent suppliers receive all the information they need to prepare an informed tender. This helps create more competitive markets for the products or services you need to buy.

Comparison to other procurement activities

You should keep industry engagement separate from your formal procurement processes. But it should form part of the basis for your procurement planning.

Industry engagement is different from vendor management involves exploring the capabilities of an entire industry, not just existing suppliers. While it’s likely you will engage with current suppliers as part of industry engagement, you’re not bound to.

Industry engagement involves more than simply listening to potential suppliers pitching their current and planned offerings. But this too can be part of the industry engagement process.

Industry engagement differs from market engagement because it focuses on making your agency an informed buyer. Market engagement involves making decisions about how to best procure goods and services.

Get the most from industry engagement

To get the best outcomes from industry engagement, you should always plan first. Poorly planned or executed engagements can be a waste of time for you and your suppliers. They can even pose a reputational risk.

No single style of industry engagement works best every time.You’re likely to get the best outcomes when your process:

  • aims to foster innovation in the way goods and services are supplied
  • is designed to build collaborative relationships between your agency and suppliers
  • looks to develop competition among suppliers.

Related content