Procurement: Your Strategic Partner
By Emily Cranfill, Procurement Content Manager, NASPO

At NASPO, we recognize the value of connections not only between our members in different states but also between suppliers and state procurement staff. In a world increasingly focused on strategic purchasing, suppliers who develop positive professional relationships with state procurement offices will find themselves better positioned to earn a state’s business.
When it comes to the state procurement cycle, suppliers might think it best to only become involved during the solicitation process, but this represents, in many cases, a missed opportunity. Because approaches to public procurement are increasingly strategic, a supplier who waits for a solicitation to be posted may be missing the chance to personalize their offerings to the state’s needs. They may be putting energy and money into misguided or incomplete solutions. Similarly, a supplier may not be known to the state procurement staff and may miss the opportunity to be considered for a particular project or contract in the first place. A lack of awareness and lack of relationship can cause harm to suppliers and state procurement offices alike.
There is, without question, a balance to be struck by suppliers. Imagine you’re in your local grocery store: we’ve all been followed around a store by a really dedicated salesperson who can’t seem to understand that we’d rather be left to browse on our own. Conversely, there are times we really need a little help and can’t seem to find someone to ask. Suppliers to state procurement must find the same balance of availability, curiosity, and respectful distance. The better acquainted a supplier is with a state’s procurement office and its staff, the more successful they will be – not only in achieving this balance, but in understanding and positioning themselves to support the state’s needs.
Relationship development within public procurement has become even more critical in recent years; due to the variations in demand and the impact on the supply chain throughout the pandemic, everyone – from a state’s local buyer to the Chief Procurement Officer to a supplier’s distribution center forklift operator to the president of the company – has had to reconsider the way purchases are made and supplies are acquired. It benefits suppliers and state procurement staff alike to think more and more strategically about the needs of each state. Proactive stockpiling, inventory management, and effective market basket development are all potential solutions to the volatility seen in the market.
Suppliers who want to be increasingly proactive in their business with states should consider the state procurement staff as strategic partners. As with a manufacturer’s supply chain, it is possible to forecast changes in a state’s needs and to prepare for those changes. Perhaps a state has been purchasing the same IT hardware for several years but is planning to refresh their infrastructure. Maybe the Department of Corrections is working on a lighting project and would benefit from their supplier keeping a particular model of LED bulb in stock. The more a supplier can learn about the current and future needs of a state, the better they can position themselves to meet those needs.
We all win when we work together, from the forklift operator to the CPO. As the public procurement market continues to adapt and change, NASPO and NASPO ValuePoint believe in the benefit of connection between suppliers and their state partners.

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