Lisbon Municipality aims for more innovation and sustainability in Public Procurement. Urgency and specifications' complexity are excuses for not considering sustainability in tenders and barriers to attracting innovative SMEs and startups. The innovative approach involved users designing and developing the Procurement Planning Platform, using a rapid development tool, cloud-based, and agile methods, which selects and supports a project-led approach for deploying new procurement strategies.
The Lisbon Procurement Planning Platform for Innovation and Sustainability (Lx PPP-IS) is the backbone for a modern strategic sourcing approach towards sustainability and innovation. The Lx PPP-IS supports needs' assessment, allowing medium-term forecast of goods, works and services needs and early identification of social, green and economic measures to consider in future tenders. It supports the city's budget planning and the Procurement Annual Planning, aligning with Sustainable Development Goals related to the PP initiatives and climate-neutrality targets.
It is an innovative approach to the Public Procurement Pre-tendering stage, turning the annual Planning into a strategic action plan to promote innovation. Finally, it creates an Annual PP Plan and provides a baseline for monitoring outcomes and impacts. The development of Lx PPP-IS followed best practices of open data, using the OCDS standard, aiming to publish the Annual Procurement Plan before the start of the upcoming year, which is not the practice in Portuguese Public Administration.
The innovation is also about the software used, a low-code rapid development tool from Outsystems, a Portuguese-born unicorn. Lisbon Municipality has established an internal Outsystems Factory, run by our IT Department. Our Lx PPP-IS team defined the functional requirements involving end-users and then, using an agile project management approach, aligned with the scrum methodologies.
In the early stage, we determined the UX standard so we could then move to a quick development phase. We now have access to a Framework Agreement for developing Outsystems, granting a fast way to build our tools, allowing swift development. This is not a usual approach to developing software in the Public Sector. The Lx PPP-IS system integrates with our private cloud and contains an API that interchanges data with other systems.
The Lisbon Procurement Planning Platform for Innovation and Sustainability (Lx PPP-IS) was developed in 2021, acting as the backbone for a strategic sourcing approach toward sustainability and innovation. The main pillars for developing the Procurement Planning Platform, among others, are:
- Developing climate action initiatives and assessing the supply chain carbon footprint of Public Procurement are drivers for Green Procurement policies that are wider than setting tender-led green criteria. Lisbon is one of the 100 participating cities which will receive the European Commission's support in achieving the goal of Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities by 2030;
- Building an innovation ecosystem is at the core of Lisbon's DNA, though there is a low uptake of innovative solutions from startups and SMEs. Creating an attractive playground for nurturing innovation in public Procurement towards more effective sustainable solutions is mandatory;
- Promoting transparency and engaging with the market by delivering more comprehensive open data related to Public Procurement. Integrating data from Public Procurement and infrastructures and assets-related data is crucial for sustainability and circularity;
- Transitioning to a new generation of digital Procurement that goes beyond e-Procurement solutions. Implementing transformative technologies, such as rapid-development tools and data analytics, can leverage the Procurement function to address long-term challenges.
Lisbon Municipality is one of the TOP 5 public buyers in Portugal, Lx PPP-IS benefits several stakeholders, here are a few:
- City Government: by providing support to political objectives concerning: climate action, carbon neutrality, innovation ecosystem development, sustainability of supply chains (such as food supply)
- Central Purchasing Bodies: by providing Procurement needs data that allows strategic sourcing decision making;
- End-users: by involving them at early-stage in the challenge of adopting different approaches to fulfil needs and promoting a project-led approach to addressing public tenders (there are more than 500 users involved in End-users: by involving them at early-stage in the challenge of adopting different approaches to fulfil needs and promoting a project-led approach to addressing public tenders (there are more than 500 users involved in Public Procurement);
- Innovation Unit: by involving startups and innovative SMEs in Open Innovation Challenges and promoting internal capacity building in innovation;
- Transparency Unit: by providing more upstream information on Procurement and by incentivizing a more open procurement.
With respect to the future, the Lx PPP-IS is a pillar for the Network of Public Procurement, which involves other Municipal Undertakings: the plan is now to extend the use to these independent Procurement Units. Due to the interest of other Municipalities, we are also keen on promoting the extend the solution to other cities.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
- Procurement Improvement: embeds both e-Procurement and Digital Procurement for medium-term Planning and sourcing strategy set-up for Public Procurement. Highly flexible, with both ad-hoc and e-catalogue-based needs assessment, with compliance metrics for effective tender pre-selection. Strategic, since it guides the focus of sustainability and innovation in an early stage, allowing a focused market engagement and project-based approach to tenders. It is a profound change to traditional tender management.
- Solution design: users are involved in the development waves (UX/UI, service design); the procurement unit leads and takes ownership of the development strategy; creating a competitive space for developers; the solution is compliant with open data (OCDS) at its core, and it is cloud-based and able to integrate with other systems.
- Innovative approach: recognised as innovative by entities such as the local Public Procurement Regulator (IMPIC) and ICLEI (https://procuraplus.org)
What is the current status of your innovation?
The Lx PPP-IS was piloted through the second half of 2021 and rolled out in April 2022. It currently supports the 2023 budget and 2023 Public Procurement Annual Plan. The next milestone is to publish the Plan in open data format at our open data portal (https://lisboaaberta.cm-lisboa.pt/).
Since we use an agile approach to development, the Procurement Unit has gathared new requirements from users. Also, ambitions have grown due to the current success and discussion with external stakeholders. As an example, with support from the Open Contracting Partnership (OCP), we will develop new pre-Tendering phase requirements from November 2022 onwards: using open data, technology, and collaboration approaches (e.g. piloting OCP's Green Flags guidance) for strategic sourcing support. We also aim to integrate Supplier Sustainability Scores and carbon footprint related to the Public Procurement supply chain to monitor and drive carbon neutrality.
Collaborations & Partnerships
- Regulators: insights and reflection from IMPIC (PP regulator); National Green Procurement Strategy 2030 stakeholder group; and Procure+i: the centre for PPI knowledge;
- Developers: Deloitte, NTT-Data, and Babel, have worked in a very open and collaborative way;
- Startups: Forcera, to fine-tune the data analytics model;
- Open Contracting Partnership: technical assistance for the OCDS adoption;
- Ecovadis: towards new developments for sustainable procurement;
- DG GROW (EC): valuable insights.
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
- End-users: involved from design to deployment (+500);
- Innovation Unit: engaging innovation strategies;
- Transparency Unit: incentivising open procurement;
- Economic operators: open workshops to promote the annual procurement plan and discuss sustainability (also include civil society org.);
- SME and startups: by incentivising and attracting for specific challenges;
- Citizens engagement: by proving procurement plan datasets and promoting involvement and participation.
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
- Process: the anticipation of planning of tenders by three months, and the scope is now the whole tenders, this leads to better resource planning (legal and technical support);
- Compliance: there were several tenders (under EUR 75 K) that were not effectively supervised, now there is a tracking process that allows better decisions on the tactical level of sourcing;
- Specification of needs: the e-Catalogues and e-Forms cover a wide range of conditions, allowing a better understanding of what is the need and targeting sustainability criteria and specifications;
- The systems proved to be a backbone for a new model of centralisation of procurement; a new model is being drafted;
- Adoption: wide adoption of the community of +500 users; which usually had no other tool that Office and the e-Tendering platform for the procurement set-up.
Methods used: Users interaction metrics, through the development of the tool; workshops to assess constraints and capture insights.
Challenges and Failures
- Creating an internal policy, engaging procurement with sustainability, climate action and innovation policies to commit the entire organization to a new planning process;
- Integrating diversity of procurement needs of users (+500) and business units (+30) involved in the process that was 100% remotely performed;
- Developing the system remotely, interacting with multiple technical stakeholders entirely online;
- Experiment with agile methods for selecting and approving requirements and scrum methods for development;
- Managing an internal learning process for the Procurement Team: agile methods, functional requirements specifications, online and remote management of users and developers.
- COVID-19 impacts caused significant setbacks that moved the team's attention to another emerging issue, but it gave the team time to mature concepts.
- In 2022, offline training sessions, gave additional traction to the learning process for adopting the new procurement planning process.
Conditions for Success
- The cloud-based approach from Lisbon facilitates the deployment of agile solutions (procurement also must think and perform agile);
- Focus on Open Data also provides incentives to build by design the opportunities for deploying more accessible data in a critical and strategic area such as Public Procurement (think Open Data as a starting point, not only a last-mile reporting contract tool);
- The framing of digital transformation within a Procurement Strategy Plan is key. (No strategy, no need to rethink processes);
- Team alignment and political alignment: Procurement is a function that can drive climate action policies, responsible and ethical impulses on economic operators, and ignition of the innovation ecosystem. A diverse and committed team is crucial (centralizing procurement is not only about bargaining power but also about centralizing dreams and the ability of multi-disciplinary teams to execute and achieve outcomes).
The Lx PPP-IS is a pillar of the Network of Public Procurement, which involves the entire universe of Municipal Undertakings. When combined, the total related municipal companies and other organs will increase the impact and reach of the Procurement Planning Process even further. These organisations have their Procurement Units, so the concept of a Network to anticipate potential procurement initiatives collaboratively is a more modern way to approach Strategic Procurement.
Due to the interest of other Municipalities, we are also keen on promoting the extend the solution to other cities. Together with the IT department, we are exploring the best way to incentivise developers to disseminate the Platform. With other Municipalities, we want to establish a Community of Practice where procurement officers and other stakeholders can think about future developments and challenges related to upstream stimuli to innovative and sustainable procurement for cities.
The procurement function is still widely thought of as a solely managerial process, mainly focused on each tender and the technical aspects and legal compliance of their contents. It is vital to rethink procurement at a strategic level and consider the social and political factors of procurement strategies. Setting up a Procurement Pluri-Annual Plan that focuses on the needs specifications and their connection with assets and infrastructures is crucial for a new way to procure. The impacts and expected outcomes from drivers of economic value, such as Innovation, Sustainability (green, climate and carbon; and responsible and social procurement), must be part of a plan to transform procurement processes. It tackles the gap between budget and sourcing strategies, and needs and market engagement that seeks tangible value for money of innovation of sustainable and innovative actions.
For a strategic change, consider setting up a strategic action plan that integrates all critical aspects of building a robust yet flexible approach to procurement. The balance is between addressing key pillars, such as transparency and compliance, and, at the same time, applying innovative methods that lead to better value for money with tangible outcomes on climate action, circularity, sustainability and infrastructure resilience. The digital transition is vital to modern Public Procurement.
- Evaluation - understanding whether the innovative initiative has delivered what was needed
26 January 2023