Let’s play a game!

How many of these procurement nightmares do you experience regularly? Give yourself a point for each, count them up and let’s see how many sleepless nights you’re having…

We love hearing about new nightmares too, we’re a bit sadistic like that. So get it off your chest and let us know if we’ve missed anything – you’ll feel better when you do!

1. Huge documents

Your requirements are super complex. Sure, it would be much clearer to split them up into logical sections and make separate instructions.

But then again, it’s almost the end of the day, you need to get this out yesterday and all of your templates are just for huge, single documents. What to do?

Oh well, just pop everything into one Word file for now and let the suppliers figure it out. They can always ask questions later. I’m sure they won’t hold off because they think asking a lot will badly influence your perceptions for the evaluation stage…

Later, you have a vague sense of unease that this might be creating more work for yourself in the long run (and a mildly unfair process) but oh well, everyone does it.

procurement huge documents problem

2. Vague requirements

Some suppliers have submitted back a brand new document on their letterhead. Looks slick, but also kind of not what you asked for.

Others have just filled the answers inline into your 175 page mega-doc. (Some did make them bold and a different colour though, how considerate!)

Some have meticulously referenced parts of your document by number (and you silently thank them as this makes your life so much easier).

Others have just written a huge bespoke proposal document as a PDF for you to wade through. Hopefully it covers all the points it needs to.

It sucks trying to digest all of this information and figure out how to compare it.

Maybe it had something to do with the requirements you set around how they submitted bids? Sure they were a bit… open to interpretation… but you just used the template everyone else has been using for years.

3. Drowning in emails

Hundreds of emails just feel like a necessary business evil, right?

But why-oh-why can’t suppliers just consistently use the reference number provided in the subject line? It’s not that hard, is it?

And why does Outlook search not seem to find all the emails with attachments? You know there are at least 2 more that were sent a few weeks ago, but how to pin them down?

Your boss asks for a status update but you realise the Excel you use to track things is out of date. There goes your morning stepping through emails one-by-one, updating it manually.

Your unread messages count is in the 100s (or 1000s) but that’s normal, isn’t it?

Hopefully you won’t miss anything important. A supplier would probably notice and let you know if you did, wouldn’t they?procurement emails attachements

4. Cc’ing the wrong person

We’ve all done it. You hit ‘reply all’ instead of ‘reply’ or put the wrong recipient in the distribution list.

The confidential response you were trying to send to 1 person gets a much wider audience and the bottom of your stomach drops out in the process.

Maybe something as freeform as email isn’t a great channel for critical communication. It’s better than fax though I suppose.

5. Bounced emails

You’ve sent your email and already got a reply – someone is keen! (Or on holiday.)

Hmm no, wait – it’s just bounced for 4 email addresses. That’s weird, and annoying.

It’s important you can show that you delivered to this exact number of suppliers though, otherwise you’re not following your agreed-on strategy.

I guess you can look forward to an afternoon of phone calls and the never-ending process of updating the master contact list (which somehow can never be relied on anyway).

procurement bounced emails

6. Badly formatted replies

The bids are in and you’ve finally got to the stage where you can read them.

But wait… Some suppliers have gone to great efforts to insert new columns and cells into your carefully curated templates with ‘helpful’ pieces of extra information. How… creative?

It’ll take you that much longer to figure out where everything you’re looking for actually sits and get on with your evaluation.

With some you’ll need to go back and ask even more questions. Great. What’s another Excel spreadsheet among so many others though, eh?

You could create a locked Excel sheet with all kinds of validation – those are all the rage aren’t they? Hmm, sounds like a lot of effort to maintain though.

And this tender was such an urgent rush. Maybe for the next one…

7. Zip file is corrupt

Your deadlines have closed and you’re sitting pretty on a folder of shiny new files to unzip. Life is sweet! Well, it passes some time until lunch at least, right?

It’s all going well until you get the dreaded “bing bong” error popup of doom. The Zip file is invalid or corrupted. It won’t open, and it’s never going to.

You try updating WinZip from the version you’ve been using since 2006 – really annoying as you preferred that ‘classic’ interface too.

You ask another colleague to give it a go. Then you go back to the supplier to ask them to resubmit (isn’t this breaking protocol?) but they don’t reply.

Is it your fault or theirs? Who knows. Eventually you give up. Too bad. Shame you had to use Zip files at all really.

procurement zip file is corrupt

8. Unsealed commercials

This tender was a very important one so you set strict conditions for how bids needed to be sealed and submitted. You put them in bold and italic, so they couldn’t be missed!!

Hmm, that’s odd. Some suppliers have attached a password protected Zip file. Others just sent encrypted emails. A couple tried to actually send envelopes in the post. And a few haven’t managed to do anything.

Now despite your best efforts there’s nothing to stop someone claiming the tender wasn’t really fair. You tried, but relying on others to do what you say (when the process doesn’t prevent them from doing anything) is a bitch.

9. Thankless grunt work

“Spending my days copy-pasting between Excel spreadsheets was always a long-held dream of mine.”

–– No one, ever.

“Wow, you downloaded and unzipped those documents so quickly – amazing work.”

–– No one’s colleague, ever.

“I deserve a raise this year because I’ve really improved my ability to find and combine price quotes from Word documents with many kinds of formatting.”

–– You to your boss, never.
procurement copy and pasting content

10. Never-ending timelines

Everyone seems to run a tender now and again which just drags on and on.

You set some expectations up front but that was when things were new and shiny, then it just became less of a priority.

Other times you weren’t really intending to award at all, you just wanted a sense of what the market was charging.

Sometimes suppliers reach out to ask you what’s going on and when they’ll hear from you about the next stage. That’s uncomfortable. But it’s OK, they’ll stop eventually.

Your score

0–2 out of 10

You must be like Van Helsing at hunting and slaying these nightmares. Well done!

Also, 1) what’s your secret? and 2) do you need a job?

3–5 out of 10

Middle of the road. You’re sleeping OK but there’s always room for improvement, right?

6–8 out of 10

Not as bad as it could be, but definitely time to start thinking about a solution.

9–10 out of 10

Wow, you’ve been through the wars. We can empathize. Let us help!

The serious bit

Clearly this is all quite tongue-in-cheek and a little exaggerated.

We know there are many companies with bulletproof processes and highly responsible and dedicated staff to carry things out to the letter.

And ultimately, finding the most appropriate way to run things is all about the individual needs of the company and the person.

That said, I’d be surprised if there’s not a grain of familiarity or truth in many of these scenarios.

The reality is you put up with a lot of day-to-day annoyances. Some are small, others less so, but all carry a degree of risk.

At DeepStream, customer nightmares are our lifeblood. We exist to collect them, understand why they happen, and collaboratively figure out ways to put a stake through them.

We know the answers to these problems don’t come within the walls of our office (or our own heads) but from talking to people like you.

DeepStream’s mission is to provide a solution which makes many of these nightmares disappear, or at least keep you up a bit less. (Nytol for procurement?)

Why not give it a go and let us know how well we’re achieving our aim?

Or better yet, tell us why it doesn’t work on your own particular brand of nightmare.