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Procurement Perspectives: Strategic and tactical procurement methods

Stephen Bauld
Procurement Perspectives: Strategic and tactical procurement methods

When it comes to procurement process, there are essentially two types of planning: strategic and tactical.

Both ultimately depend on the type of common sense of which everyone should be a master.

Strategy is the science of systematic planning with a view towards the attainment of an identified end, as in writing a complex RFP. It encompasses setting the goal, the identification of the resources to attain it, the crafting of the overall document to accomplish the goal, procuring and utilizing resources in the manner best suited to that purpose and monitoring progress from the point of origin towards the goal.

I would add that it also entails all the necessary adjustments in the way of addendum’s that may be required to better suit the end goals.

The strategic planning process may be visualized in a number of different ways and each perspective places emphasis on a different aspect of the overall process.

Look at it from a design perspective and the emphasis is on the process of idea conception. Viewed from a planning perspective, the emphasis shifts towards the formality of the strategic planning process.

In the study of strategic planning, over-concentration on the manner in which strategies should be formulated can lead to management being more process driven than purpose oriented. Government procurement is often viewed as a process that is completely process driven.

The most critical aspect of strategic planning is to position the organization so that it can proceed in a concerted manner to a common goal, and to respond effectively and efficiently to change.

The reason for this is clear. No current situation of any organization represents its natural condition.

Whatever the situation may be, it is dictated by the current environment in which the organization is operating. As we know now, no one could have predicted the pandemic. However, we all need to adjust to deal with all the issues that have arisen from it.

In my opinion, strategy differs from tactics in that the latter is the development of resources in a series of consistent steps to attain intermediate objectives that serve the overall goal.

The tactical plans of individual departments and divisions within any organization must be co-ordinated and focus on the organization’s strategic objective if there is to be any hope of attaining that objective.

If we can conclude that strategy is the long-term plan (e.g. the identification of risk and opportunity and the ranking of priority), tactics would represent the method of carrying the plan into effect, such as how to avoid risk, mitigate the damage caused if it occurs and exploit opportunities for developing the logistical infrastructure to deliver the resources necessary to do so.

Since the circumstances of every organization are dynamic (i.e. susceptible to constant and unpredictable change), tactical planning tends to be of immediate or short-term application and operates at the micro level.

Whereas strategy deals with big picture, tactics relates to detail.

The goal of senior management in improving organizational operations is to work towards continual improvement of existing operations, rather than towards some theoretical maximum efficiency level.

The efficiency of production and other aspects of organizational operations can be enhanced through refinement.

The techniques employed with a view towards such refinement — forecasting, planning, control and supervision, co-ordination — constitute the tactical methodologies employed to achieve the strategic objectives of the organization, of which procurement has a very significant part to play in the process.

Strategy is inherently macro in scope and long-term in nature. Strategy does not consist of turning every development to one’s own advantage. That is not possible.

It entails working consistently towards a defined goal and deploying resources and orienting all discretionary action and, so far as circumstances permit, non-discretionary action, so that they serve the attention of that goal.


Stephen Bauld is a government procurement expert and can be reached at Some of his columns may contain excerpts from The Municipal Procurement Handbook published by Butterworths.

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