Bmobile’s e-Tender Platform set to improve Public Sector Procurement
On February 2nd, Bmobile signed a historical memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the National Information and Communication Technology Company Limited (iGovTT), the state enterprise responsible for the provision of ICT consulting and support services to Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies in Trinidad and Tobago. The landmark MoU will allow all 22 ministries, 119 state companies and 135 statutory bodies to use Bmobile’s e-Tender platform to provide automated e-tendering solutions for all their contracts, setting a new benchmark for public sector procurement and unprecedented levels of accountability, transparency and inclusivity, where every local business can participate and benefit from the public sector bidding process.
During an interview with Moonilal Lalchan, Chairman of the Office of Procurement Regulation, Afra Raymond, Immediate Past President of the Joint Consultative Committee and Keino Cox, Bmobile’s Senior Manager Supply Chain on Power 102.1 FM on February 5th, Cox gave an overview of Bmobile’s e-Tender system, the first digital procurement platform fully developed locally. “As part of the company’s digital transformation strategy, Bmobile moved to an online procurement system in 2012 to provide an open, fair and transparent system that leveled the playing field by being inclusive to all sizes and ranges of companies.” Cox explained that e-tender was a simplified process that cut costs for both bmobile and companies submitting bids. “It also provides real-time competitive tender postings, updates and queries.” The online platform, which was developed internally by bmobile staff, has allowed the company to expand its reach of vendors globally, with over 3,000 registered vendors from various countries.
Bmobile’s e-Tender acts as a nexus between businesses and opportunities. The telecom operator has seen a 40% increase in the number of companies participating in its tenders. The increased visibility by virtue of being online, allowed a wider range in the size and type of businesses applying for Tenders. “Companies which previously would not have known about available tenders, were now aware through the automated email notifications of the e-Tender platform. The increase in the number of companies also led to higher quality, lower prices and more competitive bids, which in turn led to a significant cost reduction, including about 20% savings on just our routine purchases without having to negotiate for lower prices; an increase in productivity and efficiency along the whole value chain of the procurement process; and higher quality of products and services purchased by Bmobile.” said Cox.
Cox indicated that Bmobile had also developed an online tender evaluation platform so persons can participate in the online evaluation process from anywhere in the world and added, “We are proud to have developed a digital procurement platform that rivals the best in the world and pays for itself locally thus saving on FOREX. Countries as far as the UK, USA and Asia have reached out to us to explore our software. As the only full-service national communications service provider, Bmobile is committed to supporting the growth of local business and the development of the national community by sharing the benefits we received via the roll out of e-Tender to the public sector.”
As Chairman of the Procurement Board, Moonilal Lalchan serves as the Procurement Regulator in line with the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property Act 2015. The board’s role is to establish best practice in procurement to ensure the public’s expectations are met with respect to eliminating wastage of taxpayers’ money from alleged corruption and inefficiencies in the procurement system. “In some countries where these types of Acts were proclaimed, there were 20% in savings, so it was good to hear Keino speak about the 20% in savings that Bmobile experienced from using an e-process. Imagine what can happen if we eliminate some of the corrupt practices, wastage, scope creep and other common inefficiencies that happen in state contracts. For example, if there is a national budget of $60B and 50% or $30B goes toward public procurement, 20% or $12B is a huge amount of savings, so the public is correct to expect that when taxpayers money is spent, we get value for money. I was impressed at what I saw during the MOU process. There are huge amounts of time, cost and efficiency savings. I think T&T was given a huge gift and we need to take advantage of it and move forward as a nation.”
Raymond, who has advocated for better processes, transparency and accountability in public sector procurement, welcomed Bmobile’s e-Tender platform. “It was great to hear about the local development of a new innovative solution and that an effective platform like this was developed internally in Bmobile. The reduction in Bmobile’s tendering costs by 20% is something that should also be commended and hopefully this can be replicated by companies in the public sector.”