It involves identifying and clearly understanding a potential problem, then actively engaging with the market to envision what the design and delivery of the solution may look like. Compared to traditional procurement approaches, MIDAS both adds and accelerates stages to enable a richer, more iterative process of design, development, evaluation, and vendor selection. A traditional procurement process usually begins with the release of a request for tender RfT. Then it proceeds to evaluation, negotiations, vendor selection, and contracting with the preferred tenderer.
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Designing and building a solution, such as a prototype and minimum viable product, or MPV, may then follow. With MIDAS, by contrast, much of the business, technical, and commercial design—as well as the mobilization of vendor and departmental teams—takes place before the RfT is issued. These activities occur in up to five different phases. Generally speaking, the more undefined the project, the more phases that need to be deployed.
The MIDAS process begins with the government agency conducting an initial market consultation and, in most cases, selecting a market research provider for the initial phase of research. The goal of this phase is to build a clear understanding of the needs, frustrations, and pain points of expected users. The government agency then identifies and invites a pool of prospective vendors to participate in the procurement process.
In the steps that follow, the agency uses written responses, workshops, and collaborative design to develop, test and evaluate potential solutions. During the MIDAS process, joint government-vendor teams will codesign a prototype or MVP to make the solution tangible and allow for refinements well before a contract is signed. They will also work together to develop the right business and operating models for the solution that the vendor will deliver. Along the way, the government representatives will clarify the features that are essential.
Finally, the agency will select the vendors it wants to work with, and the relevant parties will sign a contract. The interactions may take the form of a document to solicit feedback. Alternatively, there may be a number of government-vendor teams codesigning potential solutions. This is critical for developing a deep understanding of emerging technologies and approaches. MIDAS focuses not on template-based RfTs, zero-sum negotiations, and standardized evaluation criteria but on dialogue, the cocreation of solutions, and the transfer of capabilities from vendors to government.
Similarly, the U. This program is expected to help government buyers produce better-informed and more specific briefs for jobs, in turn driving better procurement outcomes. MIDAS helps resolve many of the challenges inherent in conventional procurement methods. It makes the government a more informed buyer, and potential providers more informed sellers.
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Moreover, it exposes government teams to innovative approaches and tools. No less important, it removes much of the risk inherent in delivery through iterative development and testing of the solution and delivery model. A market-informed approach has the potential to significantly lower the overall costs of procurement—mainly because contract is signed in the later stages of project development. In conventional procurement, the government enters into a contract with a vendor before undertaking detailed design and prototyping.
In such situations, there is a high risk of cost and timing overruns once things get underway. Such issues can arise, for example, if the vendor and government have a different understandings of the specifications, or if the vendor has committed without fully understanding project requirements. With MIDAS, the government and vendor sign the contract after collaborating on design and prototyping.
This reduces delivery costs and risk down the road. Such cost savings can be considerable in technology-related projects. Traditionally, governments have sought to minimize the amount of information they shared with vendors, in the belief that this was necessary to preserve probity. The two sides share their goals and commercial and design information as they might with a partner in a joint venture, following set probity guidelines. This level of transparency is critical to success. In particular, undertaking design and prototyping activities before contract negotiations causes a government to incur a portion of the procurement cost earlier and before a preferred vendor has been selected.
This resequencing is likely to result in a better-defined solution and stronger government-vendor relationships. But it also increases sunk costs and so may not be optimal for procurements with very tight resourcing constraints in the initial phases. Similarly, the MIDAS approach is less likely to unlock value in the procurement of well-understood services and solutions such as commodity hardware, basic network services, or off-the-shelf applications. MIDAS, therefore, should be used for projects where the objectives are largely clear but the design and delivery model of the solution are not.
Such projects would include the development of complex technological infrastructure such as a sophisticated data registry; the automation of complex services like welfare approvals; and the launch of a public-private partnership for novel health care modalities. A number of governments around the world have piloted collaborative procurement efforts in the MIDAS mold, engaging more dynamically with a diverse array of market providers. For example, in Canada, the MaRS Procurement by Co-Design Program has enabled entrepreneurs and health care providers to solve technological challenges in partnership with government, as providers and public sector staff coach each other throughout a collaborative, codesign procurement approach.
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What does it take to make market-informed procurements successful? In our view, three practices are key:.
As important as collaboration with vendors is to complex procurement projects, competitive stages are still necessary to extract maximum value for those efforts. Collaborative procurement is most appropriate for the design phase, when ambiguity and complexity are at their peak. Once there is a clear understanding of the potential risks and challenges for both parties, a competitive approach is useful for finalizing costs and team requirements.
It may be advantageous to use a multistage tender, in which rounds of competitive procurement bookend longer periods of collaborative design. In this case, instead of deploying the usual innovation process of ideate, define, design, and develop, we recommend the design thinking process DTP : empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test. Using DTP thus would make it possible to further refine the vendor pool at the end of the ideation and prototyping stages—and before making the final selection at the end of the test stage.
Because relationships will be established between government and vendors early on under this approach, the contracted vendors will be able transition more easily to the delivery phase.
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MIDAS works only if the provider and the government maintain open collaboration during the design phases. This requires the provider to be fully transparent on a number of matters, such as operational costs and competitive advantages. As a result, the government can build a robust solution and achieve the best outcomes. Consequently, government departments need to structure incentives so that providers are not tempted to withhold information key to the design process.
There are a number of ways to do this. For example, parts of the market-informed process could be designed to evaluate the provider on its collaborative effort in addition to its credentials and references. Another option is to institute reciprocal information-sharing practices to promote open engagement during the collaborative process. The balance between collaboration and competition is a delicate one.
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