Procurement at the Olympics

The Winter Games in Pyeong Chang bring together nearly 3,000 athletes from 192 countries to compete at the top of their sport. It’s hard not to be inspired by the athletic feats on screen — as well as the logistical feats that took place to bring this event to life.

The procurement challenge presented by the Games is a steep one. Procurement teams must deliver on budget and on time, while also fulfilling the ambitious sustainability and social priorities put forth by the host country. To top it off, the high-profile nature of the procurement means that transparency and defensibility are paramount.

But it’s not just the Games’ procurement teams that face high demands and increasing complexity in their bid and RFx projects. Growing project volumes, time constraints, and scarce resources are the reality for many teams today, and many of the best practices which help procurement teams meet the amplified challenges of the Games can be applied to procurement teams of all sizes.

In the spirit of friendly competition, we’ve pulled together some procurement insights from previous games in a short quiz:

1. When did the organizing committee officially begin issuing procurement contracts for the 2018 Winter Games?

a) 2008
b) 2015
c) 2016

Answer – b) The first of 8,800 contracts were issued in 2015.

That’s quite the lead time! Running a project this far in advance of the games requires well-documented and thorough requirements, and strong time-management to be able to solicit fresh ideas in anticipation of a future projects.

2. Every day during the games, around 7,000 meals are served in Pyeong Chang. How many pounds of raw ingredients are required every 24 hours to make these meals?

a) 20,000
b) 125,000
c) 500,000

Answer – c) Chefs use 500,000 pounds of raw ingredients to prepare 7,000 meals every day of the games.

Though most procurement teams won’t be procuring food at that scale, even smaller food service bids can feel like a colossal task, especially if you’re relying on Excel and manual processes to analyze the bids.

Procurement software can help — tools like Bonfire’s BidTables help teams instantly compare line-item bids side-by-side, run what-if scenarios, analyze price spread across vendors, and generate order lists. Whether you’re ordering 500,000 pounds of food or 50, the best tools can help you get best value for your organization.

3. When this city hosted the Summer Games in 1996, the organizing committee was lauded for their successful outreach to minority-owned business, which led them to contract one-third of discretionary expenditures with minority-owned firms.

a) St. Louis
b) Atlanta
c) Los Angeles

Answer – b) Atlanta.

Hosting the Games has a huge economic impact on the host city, and procurement teams undertake significant effort to ensure that minority-owned businesses are benefiting from their city’s big investment.

Host cities aren’t the only ones with this priority — many procurement teams are involved in initiatives to boost small and/or minority-owned business participation in their contracting.

Procurement tools can help with this, by providing a simple and consistent online portal to post and receive bids and RFx. These tools provide vendors with an easy-to-understand, easy-to-use and perfectly transparent experience when participating in opportunities, so small businesses and minority-owned firms with fewer resources can navigate the process as easily as larger companies.

4. By adopting an e-sourcing platform to manage the massive procurement effort of the London 2012 games, the organizing committee realized productivity savings of:

a) £100,00 ($138,922 USD)
b) £2 million ($2,778,080 USD)
c) £5 million ($6,946,100 USD)

Answer – c) By implementing a basic e-sourcing platform, the organizing committee achieved savings of £5 million — not to mention postage and packaging savings of more than £350,000!

Moving ahead to 2018, next-generation cloud-based platforms are widely recognized as a necessity for procurement teams. These platforms have evolved to go beyond basic bidding capabilities, not only delivering huge efficiency gains, but also allowing teams to unlock previously untapped cost savings. For example, teams using Bonfire drive cost savings of up to 18% in supplier costs alone, on top of achieving 2x faster project times.

5. The London 2012 organizing committee evaluated 470 procurement projects through an e-evaluation tool. How many individual documents did they receive?

a) 12,500
b) 145,000
c) 460,000

Answer – b) 145,000 individual documents were received and evaluated through the e-evaluation tool. That’s 145,000 documents that did not have to be printed, mailed to evaluators, and stored.

Today’s platforms take these benefits further, by streamlining your submission and evaluation stages in one online location. Equipped with a platform like Bonfire, teams can efficiently manage documents, data, and stakeholders in one place, reduce the administrative overhead, and provide a user-friendly experience for evaluators.

You may not be sourcing for the world’s largest sporting event — but you still need the right tools to be a top-performing procurement team. A modern procurement platform can help your team manage the increasing complexity of your projects, dig deeper into your evaluations for greater cost-savings, and deliver more strategic value to your organization.