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  • buy quality materials, items and services economically from reliable sources;
  • ensure timely delivery through the selection of capable and efficient suppliers;
  • continuously locate, evaluate and develop economical and reliable supply sources;
  • identify the most reliable sources of supply through either open tender, multi-stage tendering (pre-qualifying suppliers and retaining only those that are capable of meeting the organisation's requirements - strategic sourcing) and limited tendering. For more information, see Types of tender in the Annexes;
  • investigate the availability of new materials and monitor trends in market prices;
  • buy in accordance with organisations policies;
  • estimate, position and monitor appropriate levels of stocks based on estimated needs, operational policy, objectives and priorities, estimated time for replenishment and availability of funds; and
  • participate in planning and coordinating purchasing needs across all central procurement teams and the field in order to reduce administration and make the best use of money spent.

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To be able to purchase the right goods or services, the specifications of what the user/beneficiary needs must be clear. These specifications are used to communicate to the supplier what is needed and what should be supplied. It is therefore important to have clear, precise and accurate specifications. Most organizations have standard specifications for the most regularly procured items and services such as medical and construction. One example is of Inter-Agency working groups who have developed standards to facilitate the establishment of common framework agreements. (See Plastic Sheeting and Blankets specifications)

The customers determine the specification. There is, however, an important role to be played by those responsible for purchasing the goods or services.

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For more information, see Suppliers Confidential Business Questionnaire and Supplier Rating Tool in the Annexes.

Steps in the sourcing process

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The next step in the process involves placing orders for the goods or services with the supplier, or establishing contracts which need to be sent to suppliers. In emergency situations the approval levels and limits are adjusted, based on an approved process, to speed up the process of acquiring goods and services. Under normal circumstances, the approval processes may be more elaborate. The orders establish contractual relationships between the organisation and the supplier. Depending on the organisations guiding policies, this contractual relationship can be represented in various forms (see attachments in Annexes):

Important features of a contract or agreement:

For information on international trade, see International Commercial Terms used in international contracts of sale: INCOTERMS 2000 , INCO terms explanation, INCOTERMS narrative, INCOTERMS practical application chart.

  • cost
  • specification/description
  • quantity
  • lead-time / delivery time
  • approvals
  • date of issue
  • serial number
  • terms and conditions (including penalties)
  • INCOTERMS / place of delivery

See Contracting tips and basic inclusions, Standard conditions of contract and Purchase contract: an agreement between purchaser and supplier.

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Procurement must be seamlessly integrated with the other aspects of Logistics and functions within the organisation, such as Warehousing, Distribution, Finance, HR, etc. An integrated approach to service delivery will no doubt contribute to the timely, efficient and effective delivery of humanitarian assistance. Clear communication lines, timely flow of documentation and constant feedback will facilitate the procurement process. The involvement of the Logistics function in assessments will enable Logistics to plan for the delivery of services, but for Logistics to succeed, the procurement plan must be well integrated and visible in the overall response plan. In emergency situations, easily accessible logistics preparedness and response guidelines will help to fast track the development of a response plan, tailored for a specific situation.

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International Commercial Terms: Trade terms used in international contracts of sale: see see INCOTERMS 2000 , INCO terms explanation, INCOTERMS narrative, INCO practical application chart.

Concern Worldwide Commodity Distribution Manual ECHO Procurement Guidelines

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