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“Wait, that was coming up for renewal?” What to do with Commonwealth contracts, when time is of the essence?

Picture this – you use a bit of software which is vital for your role. You’ve used it for, say, almost 3 years now and couldn’t imagine life without it. Well, 5 days from now, the contract for the licenses of that software expires, and you don’t have any extension options remaining. What do you do?
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Healthy Performance Culture
22 July 2024
Nik Glusac - Senior Consultant
5 minutes

Picture this – you use a bit of software which is vital for your role. You’ve used it for, say, almost 3 years now and couldn’t imagine life without it. Well, 5 days from now, the contract for the licenses of that software expires, and you don’t have any extension options remaining. What do you do?

Option 1 – Cry.

Option 2 – Let it die.

Option 3 – Get a move on.

For the purposes of this article, let’s venture into Option 3. While it may seem important to discover the root of why this has come up at such late notice, let’s leave that for the afterparty once we’ve successfully reached a conclusion, actioned the urgencies and have some breathing room to prepare better for next time. (For tips on better preparation for next end of financial year, please see Masothy Yin’s article, “That Time of Year” here).

For this scenario, your contract doesn’t have any renewal options left on it. Start with the basics - what will be of greatest benefit to getting this thing over the line? You have a team of colleagues, subject matter experts, stakeholders, and individuals with all sorts of expertise around you who have the same desire you do to reach the finish line. Get these people in a room (virtually or in person) and jot down as many ideas as each individual can think of in the span of 10 minutes, regardless of how outlandish they may seem. Once the time is up, come together and share your ideas with each other. You may be able to come up with a more creative idea than just renewing your current licenses with the same supplier, and more importantly, find a better value-for-money solution for your Department and the Commonwealth. As a group, consolidate all these ideas into 4 groups: Possible, Implement, Challenge, Kill. This is known as a PICK exercise and can be a great way to incorporate ideas from all sorts of knowledge bases whilst encouraging teamwork at the same time. See the image below for a quick reference on what these groups mean.

 

 

Once you and your team have decided on which solutions offer the highest payoff for the lowest difficulty and separated the practical and possible from the unlikely and delusional, set up a schedule for completion and conduct a formal risk assessment on each of the preferred options. This will help you determine what is in store for you during the rest of the process, and its best practice to have these processes formally documented for future reference. Following on, with the help of the Procurement Professionals within your agency, figure out the best way to get this solution out on the market and back for sign-off by the delegate in the most time effective way whilst also ensuring you have followed all the necessary governance and compliance steps along the way. Be wary, as you would’ve foretold in your aforementioned risk assessment, it is always good to have a Plan B, and there is plenty of advice available on the Department of Finance’s BuyRight website for all things Procurement. 

Don’t forget that in times of crisis, sometimes really nice things can come out of it. For example, one of the Strategic Procurement SME’s who was in your initial key stakeholder collaboration group worked on a similar procurement only a couple of months ago, and you were able to uplift that shiny new software contract to include all the capabilities you were getting from your old software, at a fraction of the price. Now you’ve been able to save taxpayer dollars and get a better solution out of it.

The key here is opening up the channels of communication, working in the world of practical and possible, and deciding what the best outcome is. The team here at Synergy Law, with their plethora of experience in all things Legal, Procurement, and Government contracting, are here to help you make that best outcome a reality. 

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