To prepare useful schedules for procurement activities, it is necessary to understand the logical relationships of the basic steps in the contracting process. These steps should not be assumed to be a process but rather a guide on how contracting should work. The key aspect of any contracting strategy or process should be regarding the relationship and while these steps focus on the activities / steps needed to deliver on a contract, it should be assumed that these steps are required to develop the contractual relationship within each of the processes. These are as follows:
- Complete Conceptual Design: – The detailed design specifications required for the procurement of materials, equipment and service contracts cannot be completed until the conceptual design is complete. For example, the specifications for a piece of equipment cannot be completed until the design of the system that the equipment is a part of has been completed.
- Technical Specification: – After the conceptual design and general requirements are established for materials or equipment, the technical specifications including any required drawing are prepared. These must be completed before the request for proposal (RFP).
- Complete Division of Responsibility: -Although work can begin on the technical specifications for materials and equipment prior to knowing the scope of work for individual contracts. The scope of work needs to be defined and the project needs to make decisions on what should and should not be procured.
- Select Bidders: – As soon as the project understands the scope of work and what is to be procured, it can prepare a list of qualified bidders for each major contract or package. The qualified bidder list should be assembled before the RFP is circulated.
- Management Requirements: – In addition to the technical requirements for the RFP, the management or stakeholders need to be consulted. Items such as cost, schedule and quality requirements may need to be amended or added based on consultation. This cannot be done until the division of responsibility is carried out and before RFP is issued.
- RFP Commercial Requirements: – After the scope of the procurement contract has been settled, the project can prepare the commercial terms that need to be included in the RFP. Specific commercial terms will be needed for specific contracts and these in turn need to feed from the management requirements and technical specifications.
- Complete RFP: – After the project receives the technical and management requirements from other groups, the RFP can be completed. When the bid list and the RFP are completed, the RFP can be issued for bid.
- Prepare Bids: – This is the time required for the bidders to prepare and submit the bid proposal after receipt of the RFP.
- Evaluate Bids: – The activity represents the time required for an owner to evaluate the bids after they have been received.
- Prepare and Sign Contract: – The activity represents the time required to prepare and sign a contract between an owners and a supplier or contractor after the bid evaluation is complete. If the time required to obtain a signed contract is extensive, the owner may authorise the start of work on a contract prior to having it signed.
- Manage Contract: – The time required performing the work included in the contract after work has been authorised to proceed. The work may involve the fabrication of materials or equipment or the performance of services. These activities should then align with the milestones of the project and reimbursement is based on the cost of work plus incentives based on the performance ore quality of the materials or work.
- Closeout Contract: – The activity represents the time required from the point when contract work is substantially completed until all contractual issues are closed out. This includes payments, deliverables and plan updates plus archival or information.
The duration required to complete these activities very much depend on the project and what is been procured. One of the things that need to be considered is the integration of these activities into the project schedule and when this is done the target completion date for these activities can then be understood.