June 13, 2023

What is a market consultation with suppliers?

Since 2014, the European Union directive (which regulates the procurement of goods, services, and construction works using taxpayers money) encourages and recommends public sector buyers to conduct market research and consult with the market or engage in discussions with suppliers before officially announcing the procurement. The only requirement is that the consultation should be freely accessible to any interested supplier, including non-governmental organizations, and the process should be transparent.

Until January 1, 2023, consultations were voluntary or recommended for Latvian buyers. Now, after changes in the law, consultations must be conducted on a voluntary-compulsory basis.

In simple terms: If only one bidder applies for a procurement (insufficient competition), such procurement can only be discontinued if a consultation with suppliers has been conducted before its announcement.

Consultations are a legal and legitimate way for the public sector to gain a clear understanding of what the market can offer before officially announcing the procurement. They help in identifying goods, solutions, prices, terms, expected contract prices, and potential competition. Additionally, based on knowledge gained during consultation it helps avoid unjustified or competition-restricting qualification or technical specification requirements that may delay procurement and contract execution in future. It also allows suppliers to better prepare for upcoming procurements.

For public buyers consultations with suppliers provide an opportunity to: 

  • 📝 Seek the opinion of potential suppliers on planned technical and qualification requirements of procurement that will help refine requirements while avoiding those that restrict competition. 
  • 💬 Engage in open conversation about problems requiring solutions and verify whether the buyer’s proposed solution will work. It can also provide opportunities for private sector to come up with solutions specific to problem. 
  • 💸 Gain a better understanding of what market can offer in terms of products, services, and personnel on what contractual terms; assess whether buyer’s planned budget/resources/timeline are realistic. 
  • 🎯 And last ut not least, draw the attention of interested suppliers to planned procurement, thereby promoting competition and increasing number of offers received.

From the perspective of the private sector (suppliers), consultations with buyers allow them to: 

While the first two benefits are quite obvious, the last one is often underestimated by companies. Understandably, why spend time and resources on consultations if there is no guaranteed benefit or potential contract? Public procurement field in Latvia is strongly regulated. Once procurement is announced, suppliers have limited opportunities to achieve desired changes in procurement, even if those changes are rational. The only option is to adapt their status to meet or not meet procurement requirements. If they meet them, great. If not, they either accept the loss or file a complaint with the Procurement Monitoring Bureau (IUB).

🛑 The pre-procurement stage or discussions with suppliers are practically the only opportunity a supplier has to change or suggest anything to the buyer, and it is completely legal and transparent. It is unnecessary to explain the attention that such attempts can attract from certain institutions or the possible consequences of attempting to negotiate or suggest outside of this procedure.

Promoters of collaboration between public and private sectors
The goal of Sorsera - a collaboration platform - is to facilitate convenient, modern, and easy communication and exchange of helpful information in procurement for B2G organizations. We are confident that productive dialogue between government buyers and suppliers benefits not only professionals in the field but society as a whole. It promotes quality procurement, competition, and economically beneficial procurement decisions based on knowledge, data, and market understanding.

🎁 The goal of Sorsera’s tools is to ease the work of procurement specialists (reduce stress levels and time consumption) and improve inter-organizational communication. The ultimate beneficiaries are both buyers and suppliers, as well as society as a whole. The platform currently holds data on over 59,000 suppliers and 8,000 buyers.

For the public sector – completely free of charge
Understanding the complexity and time-consuming nature of finding suitable suppliers (whose experience and opinion could be valuable), we help select the most suitable suppliers for consultations announced by state/local government organizations using public procurement data and our market knowledge. To improve public procurement, we provide all our tools to government buyers free of charge.

Recognizing challenges faced by suppliers, we track all consultations to ensure they don’t miss relevant ones where their knowledge is valuable. We select the most suitable ones for each supplier and send them a special invitation/reminder to participate.

When a supplier submits a response, we notify the buyer of its receipt and generate an individual summary (and collective summary) of all supplier opinions/recommendations, which we send to the planned execution entity for procurement.

👉 Buyers, reach more suitable suppliers and improve the pre-procurement research process today. Suppliers, increase your visibility and find paying customers! Open the platform.

For reference:

  • IUB explanation of discussions with suppliers.
  • Section 12 of Article 41 of the Public Procurement Law (PPL) and Section 14 of Article 47 of the Law on Public Service Providers Procurement (LSPSP) stipulate that if only one bidder’s proposal is received in a procurement, it can be discontinued if prior consultation with suppliers (as mentioned in Section 2 of Article 18 of PPL and Section 2 of Article 22 of LSPSP) has been conducted.