Here is how it started. My daughter wanted to buy a GoPro camera and she was eager to start collecting money. By asking it from me, of course.

Knowing my profession is related to “buying things”, she pretended she wanted to know more about it and “use my skills ” for buying the camera she wants.

I pushed it one step backwards though, i.e. to budget part. She declared she wanted to collect it by asking me to regularly put some money in the cashbox she prepared for this specific purchase. She showed me the cashbox, a regular wooden box, and said “Here”.

I agreed (what else could I do?), but there should be a lesson about procurement. Unusual, I thought, another procurement training, not even pro bono, I should pay for conducting it.

Next morning I ignored the cashbox and when I returned home she was waiting. “There is nothing in the box, but I told you …..” she sounded like a typical Requester.

“Here is lesson No. 1 – I said –  Words are fine for love confession. In my profession documents are highly appreciated”. Seeing the question mark in her eyes, I continued. “So, if you want me to put money in that box, write what you want me to do and leave that request by the box”.

I saw this message on a tissue by the cashbox the next day. “Dad leave it here €. min. 5€ . max. 10” (in Armenian). Being a super creative person, she puts Euro signs and dots where she wants. Nevertheless, this was better than the day before and I left €5 in the box.

The morning after I ignored the box again and another angry Requester was waiting for me that very evening.

“I found nothing in the box today” she stated with a very specific tone which included some unhappy eyebrow game.

“Should I put money there everyday? Did your request say so?” – I replied.

Procurement lesson No. 2 sounded like “Be clear and precise in your requests, because you get what you asked for”. 

I could clearly see “I will never choose your profession” message in her eyes, but since I was the one who gives green light to the GoPro camera she smiled and said “Ok”. Oh, those Instagram and YouTube victims….

What I discovered the day after was just like a Purchase Requisition. I cannot explain why the box changed into iron coffee jar, probably she thought I would say something about security, but the best part of it was the actual message. It was still demanding €5, mentioning “every day” in English, however, the strongest piece was – no maximum amount anymore (before it was max. €10).

So, no limit, dear procurement trainer. If you want to leave the whole camera amount at once – you are most welcome. If not, be so kind to leave minimum €5 every day. Well, what can I say? The Requisition is approved.

If she could only know how important these two simple lessons are in procurement.

It is absolutely vital to document what needs to be procured in a clear and precise manner. Imagine you enter a drugstore and cannot explain what drug you need. Dangerous, isn’t it? Requesters better spend more time for drafting detailed technical specifications, TORs and scope of works in advance. If needed, by engaging external consultants and outsourced specialists. 

Unclear and vague messages to market return with similarly vague and unclear bids. These bids are impossible to compare and evaluate. This eventually results into failed tenders, lost time and missed opportunities. 

Many would say, it’s not procurement people who should worry. Of course not. But, being service providers, we need to inform our clients of any envisaged bottleneck. Even if they are not interested in our opinion, even if they do not realise we do it for them. 

Because, as we saw many times, lack of procurement knowledge results into projects’ failure. Just like wrong prescription results into wrong drug. And we all know what the wrong drug can do.


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