In the past month, eight enlightened procurement professionals have graduated with the NZQA Level 6 Procurement Qualification - and there are around 20 more people who will most likely complete before the end of this year!
Graduates of this NZQA Procurement Qualification are the true heroes of procurement practices. For the 21 people who have graduated so far this year; and the first three trail-blazers who graduated last year through Clever Buying's programme, working through the qualification has been an eye-opener.
Do you know any of these Procurement Rockstars, who have recently achieved their NZQA Procurement qualification through Clever Buying's programme?
Feedback from Graduates
“It’s been hard work, but well worthwhile” is common feedback. These graduates found that the assessment process – which includes one-on-one mentoring over a period that’s typically 6 - 18 months – was a powerful way to embed more efficient practices and a deeper understanding of good practice across procurement processes from start to finish.
“It strengthened my existing skills” explains Jason Forbes, from NZTA. “It was well structured and I was introduced to both anchored scales and response templates, which I see real merit in.”
Steve Raynor from Vitruvius (now with Tauranga CC) noted “The availability of real-time coaching was a major benefit and encouraged more boldness in preparing and evaluation of tenders as expert advice was always available. In this particular qualification the feedback was the best I have ever received in terms of speed, quality and challenge.”
To maintain momentum through the qualification, it’s important to be involved in tendering activities through work, although some of the assignments can be completed using scenarios. “Keep chipping away at assignments, even if you haven’t got work examples, get on with the made-up scenarios instead. It really helps your own procurement processes and developing robust documents” says Nicola Marvin, from Gisborne DC.
Neil Cook found that applying the methodology to actual procurements was valuable. He suggested it would be worthwhile to have some kind of re-certification or ‘refresher’ for qualified evaluators every 5 - 10 years.
“It gave me far greater appreciation of the procurement process. That it is a specialist task, as opposed to something that engineers need to do to get work done. I now have a far better ability to manage risks and gain desired benefits” commented Josh von Pein, from Dunedin CC.
David Somerville, from Rationale, found the assessment methods very useful “In effect, this assessment procedure worked like an advisory: I was attempting to guide my client towards a better way of working, and I could use the tutor as a sounding-board to test and improve ideas.”
How long does it take?
Our graduates varied hugely in the time they took to complete the qualification. Some found it difficult to balance assignment work alongside work and family demands – and consequently took up to 2 ½ years with several stops and starts to complete. But others worked fast through the assignments and completed in as little as five months!
For some, the assignments (preparing procurement plans, developing RFTs, completing tender evaluations and demonstrating knowledge of Government Rules of Sourcing and ethical standards) were done almost completely at work. This meant their time investment outside normal work activity was almost nothing.
Others took longer, as their work did not allow them to carry out these activities in business hours. All of our graduates reported that they learned a great deal and enjoyed the opportunity to discuss their procurement environment in detail with their assessors.
Can I use prior knowledge and past examples?
It’s important that anyone considering doing the qualification knows that the new version set out not only to recognise good practice in procurement, but to actively (and unashamedly!) drive more consistent, better practices across procurement.
The qualification is now focused on quality, not quantity – which is welcome news for those who don’t have scores of examples of past projects to submit. But there’s a catch – many of those older examples do not demonstrate the level of robust procurement planning; the alignment of procurement tools to project-specific drivers of Value for Money; or application with Government Rules of Sourcing needed to meet the current standards.
An experienced procurement specialist, David Somerville commented that “The initial workshop taught me that many de facto procurement procedures were ineffective because they used an inappropriate supplier selection method, or the evaluation was performed incorrectly, so value-for-money was not being realised.
The live assignments provided an opportunity to step through the decision-making logic in partnership with my client, so we could both see the opportunity for doing things better, and therefore guide their organisation towards developing more effective procedures.
For my own organisation, the qualification has provided an endorsement and a toolkit that we can apply with confidence for our clients.”
In general, candidates only need two examples of procurement plans, RFT documentation and Evaluation Reports they have put together – but they have to meet stringent standards. A portfolio of recycled RFTs developed as a result of team efforts no longer cuts the mustard.
Candidates need to demonstrate leadership and take personal responsibility for the quality of the procurement processes that are assessed. Even experienced tender evaluators need to be open to learning new and better procurement practices.
Do I have to do the two-day Clever Buying course?
Nobody has yet graduated with the new version of the qualification without following the structured programme offered by Clever Buying. Of more than 100 candidates who are currently working through the qualification, less than 5% have opted to be assessed without doing the two-day initial training course. The experience of those who don’t get that initial base understanding of the qualification requirements and have structured assignments to follow, is that working through to meet the qualification standards is a lot harder and it takes longer.
Standards of good procurement practice have changed significantly in the past few years. The ‘portfolio’ of procurement documents that was used in the past for assessment is no longer valid, largely because those documents were most often not indicative of individual competence, and in many cases were recycled with little consideration for project-specific drivers for Value for Money.
Today’s good procurement practices are far more focused on fit-for-purpose procurement, transparent and well-defined scoring systems, cost-efficient processes and demonstration of good procurement planning. It typically takes much longer to put those standards into practice without the benefit of a concentrated workshop on current good practice.
It’s certainly possible to use the Candidate Guides and work through the Unit Standard requirements independently. However, for most people, completing the qualification independently is a longer, more expensive and more difficult process requiring several iterations and significant tutor input before the standards are reached.
To date, nobody has yet graduated with this new version of the qualification without doing the Clever Buying course at the start.
I’m already CPP qualified – do I need to do this to maintain my status?
No. Currently the old version of the qualification is still valid for NZTA, although there has been widespread feedback that refresher accreditation would be a good thing, since procurement practices have changed significantly in the past few years.
It may be worthwhile for you to attend the two-day Clever Buying course, so you fully understand current methods including the impact of Government Rules of Sourcing. But – for the time being –your existing old version of the qualification still is valid for NZTA requirements.
Am I suitable/ ready to do this Qualification?
Candidates for this NZQA Level 6 Qualification need to have some experience in procurement, but when they start, it doesn’t have to be extensive. It is important, however, that you have opportunities at work to engage in procurement planning, developing RFT documents, and (later in the qualification), evaluating tenders.
You should be prepared to become a leader in procurement, and you should also be in a position to undertake regular study and assignment activity, either at work or in your own time. Any candidates who need to constantly be reminded to meet deadlines, or who are not able or willing to invest time and effort into their assignments should not start.
This is an extremely valuable qualification - and will not only be satisfying to complete, but will make its graduates the first choice for senior procurement roles in NZ government organisations – so having this on your CV is a huge bonus!
If you’re interested in getting qualified, now is a great time to start! With five Clever Buying courses lined up over the next three months, you can fast-track your progress and you could be qualified by April next year!
Do you know these emerging leaders in procurement? Here are the stars who have graduated so far this year.