Picture the scene: you’ve got a product to sell, a message to get across or some entertainment to put on. You want a live event.

You decide you want to put out a tender to find (procure) the best company or solution – maybe with the best ideas or offering the best value.

Your tender, in summary, says:

1. We want a live event that achieves x,y,z.
2. Please send us a picture and plans of what you propose to help us achieve x,y,z.
3. Please tell us what it will cost.

You then get all the tenders back, pick the one you like and award the contract. You’ve a specification of what will be delivered and a price. Done.

Well . . . almost.

Unless you want a live event that is largely formulaic, no one – not you nor anyone you invite on board will actually know what it’s going to accurately cost or involve until well into the planning process.

By putting a tender, RFP or similar out in this way, what you’re actually doing is asking for a proposal and cost for something that has not yet been developed or planned, yet in order to find the people to develop and plan it you want to know what it will look like and cost from the people that will develop and plan it before they’ve been appointed to developed and plan it.


Procurement Paradox


You’ve created a procurement paradox.

You’re then all going round in circles, deeper and deeper into a mess of management and agreements, trying to marry up reality with what was promised, as both the reality changes and expectations around what was promised evolves.

This results in either you managing the company to make sure you’re still getting what you thought you were getting, as the real costs materialise and budget pressures mount, or the company will spend a lot of time (that you’re paying for in one way or another – whether you realise it or not) managing you to make sure their margins and budget are protected.

Sure – you can get into contingencies and contract variations. More time and money managing the contract.

That’s a lot of time managing each other. Time that could perhaps be better spent creating a great live event. It also makes a complete mockery of the tender, as either the specification or budget will now be changing, and all that rushed, imperfect guestimating the companies tendering put in goes to waste.

If you’re looking for a live event to sell more stuff, get a message across or entertain people, you’ll be looking for two things: goods and services. Services (people) to create, plan and deliver the live event, and goods (stuff), the physical elements that actually make up the live event.

It is the people (services) that will get you over the line. It is always possible to derive more value from the supply chain, with the right people on board.

If you’re looking to extract the most value from your money, done correctly, it is both possible and far simpler to find people to work with and agree rates or terms; based on the cost, value, ideas, experience (or any other measure) of people (services) rather than try and cover off both goods and services in the same tender. Get the right people on board, and once they are working with you it will be far simpler and easier for both you and them to get the best value from the supply chain.


Would You Appoint an Architect Based on How Cheap They Could Supply Concrete?


Stick to finding great people. After all – would you judge an Architect and appoint them by his or her ability to get the best value concrete? No. It should be no different when finding the event expertise you’re looking for.

For everyone now screaming at the sthis pointing out that you need to know the total cost (goods and services) of an event before being able to contract an event; with the right people, you’ll be able to have a sensible conversation about the budget, and have those people work with you (with you – not managing you), contractually, to either reach that target budget or come in beneath it. Their own rates or fee will already have been agreed. They can no focus on you and your event.

The choice is yours: create this common but flawed, time consuming and wasteful procurement paradox and either struggle yourself or have those you appoint struggle (whether you realise it or not), or find a great bunch of people to help you get far more for your money, make life easier and work with you to create a live event you and they can be proud of.