Conduct Procurements

With excerpts from my Project Management Novel, I will illustrate the many processes of the PMBOK.  Here is the thirty-eighth one: Conduct Procurements. Use this map to see how this process fits into the scheme of processes.  Conduct Procurements

“How are we goin’ to plan this project better than last time?” asked Fred.


Gwilym thought for a moment, then answered, “I don’t think there is much else we can do about planning a project. I believe we have covered everything. Where I think we fell apart in previous projects was in the way we executed the work we planned. While planning is important and deserves the time we spend on it, we need to do the work we planned better.”


“So, which part will we improve first?”


“Procurements. We know how to Plan Procurements; we did that in Glastonbury. Let’s  Conduct Procurements well on this project.”


“Where do we start?”


“Let’s start by looking at the plan we came up with in Glastonbury. I remember things about bidder conferences and make-or-buy analysis but most of that work was done by the Abbot and the priests. This time we’re on our own. And it looks like we could use it for the buying of timber.”


“Aye,” said Fred. “One of those two are goin’ to hate us if we go with th’other. We better have a good reason. Anyway, I’ve written down all th’information in th’project management plan. Let’s look at what we planned.”


Gwilym and Fred pored over the document and planned out what they would do in procuring supplies for this project.


“The first thing we should do is use our Expert Judgment. We’ve built six towers before and know how much we should spend on timber. Let’s figure that out.”


“Well,” said Fred. “It depends on a lot of things. How much timber goes for, how far away it has to come from, how much we need for th’tower, how many sawyers are nearby. In Huish, we had forests nearby and a simple tower. In Airmyn, th’timber had already been purchased. In Londinium, th’timber had to come from far away and we were buildin’ an arch as well as a tower. In Caernarfon, we were buildin’ a defensive structure attached to th’walls and it were wider but shorter than th’others. In Salthouse, we had to get th’timber from faraway forests. In Glastonbury, we were buildin’ a steeple and th’priests bought th’timber. They’re all different.”


“Right,” agreed Gwilym. “So we need to take all those factors into account when we figure out the expected cost of this tower. Looking at the charter, I’d say that the tower we build here will take as much timber of a similar type as in Huish. While we’re not building barracks inside, they do want some kind of living space, so it should take about the same amount of dressed timber as Huish. We also have nearby forests like in Huish but we also have two competitive sawyers only 20 miles away from the job-site. That may help us lower the cost compared with getting wood from small sawyers near the job-site. Those people probably don’t have a stockpile of seasoned logs big enough for the job.”


“Then tha thinks we can use th’price we paid at Huish as a good estimate?”


“I think so, Fred. But the price of timber may be more or less here than in Huish. So let’s keep this amount in mind as we ask them for bids.”


Fred started rubbing his hands together. “Are we goin’ to do all th’things we planned, then? Procurement Statements of Work and  Source Selection Criteria and all?”


“Why not? They were good enough to plan. They seem like they will help us here. Let’s do it all.”


“Great!” said Fred. “What do we do first?”


“We’ll need our project plan before we can do everything because we need to know exactly what and how we are building before we know what supplies we need. We can start creating our Procurement Documents and fill them out with details once we have our project plan.”


“What are they again?”


“Procurement Documents? Those are the scrolls that explain exactly what we want to buy so that sawyers can give us an estimate on how much they’ll charge us. We can’t write the quantity in yet but we can write down what kind of timber we need, how long it has to be aged, what diameter the logs need to be, those details.”


“Can’t we write down the make-or-buy decisions based on what we know about this area and th’team.”


“Yes we can. Also we can document our Source Selection Criteria tonight if we want. We know what matters to us for wood: Length, Thickness, Age, Type, Distance from site, Price, Reliability of Vendor, Quality, Straightness, all those things. We can write it all down so that when we chose one vendor over another, we can show why. We should put those in the Procurement Documents.”


“Right. That’s true. And we can show those to th’sawyers so they have to bid it properly.”


“We should come up with a list of sellers that we can use nearby. We already know of two in Brest. We can also figure out who sells wood nearer the job site that might be qualified to provide us with good timber.”


“I’ll do that,” volunteered Fred.


Fred and Gwilym spent the next few hours deciding what was important about the timber and creating a set of documents that spelled all this out to their potential vendors. They showed in these scrolls what mattered to them so that the vendors couldn’t argue later that they were unfairly taken out of the competition. Wood being seasoned for two years was required; wood being seasoned longer was preferred. Logs for the tower had to be a minimum of one foot in diameter and a maximum of one and a half feet. Length had to be between 22 and 25 feet.


The next day, Fred asked around about other sawyers in the area surrounding the job site, while Gwilym finished assembling the team. He told them they would meet at the temporary quarters near the job site an hour after dinner the next day. Then he went around with Grainne purchasing the foodstuffs and other supplies they would need to feed and shelter the crew for the next few months.


Fred returned and joined the family for supper. Gwilym asked him about his day.


“There were quite a few men in the area cuttin’ wood but most of them were just makin’ firewood for their own purposes or their neighbors. Four were real sawyers, makin’ timber for construction. Only two of those had enough aged wood to meet our needs.”


“Excellent! How close to the job site?”


“One was only two miles away. Th’other were four miles but along a better road. But they each had different questions that I answered but weren’t in th’documents we gave them. So they each know something th’other doesn’t. That doesn’t seem fair.”


Gwilym thought for a moment. “We should hold a bidder conference before we get responses to our requests for quotes. That way they can all hear each other’s questions and our answers.”


“That’s fair. And we should repeat th’questions and answers from today so they all hear it.”


“Fair enough,” said Gwilym. “Let’s plan the project today and tomorrow, then get the men all busy making foundations while we hold the bidder conference in three days.”


“I’ll arrange it.”