How Legal Training Helps in Running Effective Procurement

Nidal graduated from the Australian National University with a degree in Law and Arts. He decided he didn’t want to be a lawyer, however he wanted to utilise his qualifications in another field.

How Legal Training Helps in Running Effective Procurement

Nidal graduated from the Australian National University with a degree in Law and Arts. He decided he didn’t want to be a lawyer, however he wanted to utilise his qualifications in another field.

During his 6 years at Apis, Nidal has applied his qualifications in law to provide expertise in the whole procurement life cycle, from the procurement process, to contract management and project management. He assists his government clients in procuring services and helps in managing the contract.

Here, Nidal explains how he utilises his legal qualification at Apis to provide government clients with an edge when it comes to procurement, contract management and project management.

How has your legal training helped in running effective procurements?

Procurement involves the sourcing of services or goods in a way that achieves value for money. Like legal practice, the early planning phase often requires strong problem-solving and the development of creative procurement strategies to achieve value for money. This is particularly true for complex procurement processes. Having a legal background is definitely an advantage in this stage.

It also comes in handy for the drafting of requirements and contract schedules. How these documents are drafted can impact the procurement process in a few ways. The way that requirements are written in the approach to market can often determine the quality and completeness of the tenders the client receives.

Similarly the quality of contract drafting can impact the way services are delivered, the client’s relationship with the service provider and the ability to effectively manage provider performance. I’ve found that having knowledge of contract law and being able to read, interpret and draft clauses has been invaluable in this regard.

Have you found clients benefits from your understanding of legal clauses?

Having this skill set allows you to add value for the client in every stage of the procurement lifecycle.

The ability to simplify complex contractual clauses into a set of clear service requirements ensures that the client understands what they’re investing in, and can provide meaningful input into the planning process. The benefit is also experienced by the client when they receive tender responses which are easy to understand and address all of their requirements.

Most of the clients we work with don’t have a legal background, and are often new to procurement. Understanding legal clauses can be particularly useful in the selection and negotiation phase. Clients will be looking to Apis to explain, in plain terms, the practical implications of a contract. Being able to do this equips the client with the understanding that they need to play an active role in the negotiation process.

How have you seen Apis grow?

With Apis’ expansion in numbers over the last 6 years, I’ve seen it grow in its diversity, including the skills sets and range of experience our consultants offer. Apis has always attracted good people. I’ve had the privilege of working with some of the most intelligent and insightful consultants, who are also really nice on a personal level.

I’ve seen the reputation and market footprint of Apis grow considerably in the last 6 years because of the quality of its people and the solutions it provides clients. Being embedded within government project teams gives Apis a better perspective of client needs, and helps build trust and stronger working relationships. It also allows us to ‘get into the weeds’ and work with the client on a day-to-day basis to overcome challenges and deliver outcomes. Because of this, we’ve increasingly been able to compete with larger management consulting firms.

What do you enjoy most about working at Apis?

There is a strong culture of peer support and knowledge-sharing, and the structure of Apis is more horizontal than other organisations. Consultants are always happy to be approached for advice, support or quality review – even at senior management levels.

I like the fact that we embed ourselves within client project teams, and are flexible enough to assist them with challenges of any size and complexity. It’s a good way to develop excellent working relationships which continue long after a project has been delivered.

One of the most satisfying projects was the sourcing of a Regional Assessment Service for My Aged Care. Our market audience ranged from large national service providers, to small Not-For-Profit organisations. Most of them had never been involved in a competitive tendering, meaning we needed to develop creative procurement mechanisms to encourage their participation in the process. We came out of the project with a great response from the market, delivering 13 provider contracts for the client ahead of schedule.

APIS CANBERRA INTERNATIONAL 2017