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According to most public procurement leaders, procurement market research and expertise requires significant improvement across teams. During a recent Public Spend Forum Leaders Exchange Meeting, Raj Sharma, Chairman and CEO of PSF, kicked off the discussion by highlighting how “market research” and “market alignment and expertise” are two of the critical competencies requiring greatest improvement in public procurement.

Market research and market alignment and expertise are two of the lowest rated workforce competencies.

Challenges in Public Procurement Market Research

Leaders agreed that market research skills are among the most challenging and discussed several factors that pose challenges in public procurement market research, including:

  • Limited time & skills:  Most government contracting professionals are overwhelmed building new RFPs and cutting contracts. Often they learn about new procurement requirements too late. Given the short timelines and other priorities, time for comprehensive market research is limited.  Additionally, professionals often must develop specialized research skills which they are not trained for.


  • Limited scope in conducting market research:  Additionally, scope of market research is often limited to identifying vendors as opposed to understanding capabilities, costs, business models, key trends, etc.  This limits the ability of government to truly match capabilities with requirements while considering other key factors such as risks, innovation and value drivers.


  • Fragmented market data and Information:  Most market information is spread across many sources, leaving most people to rely on Google. People must piecemeal information from across many sources, which takes time that no one has.  Even when information is found, government contracting officers must determine whether they can trust the sources.


  • Dynamic markets: Even if a government contracting professional had the time, it is difficult for anyone to keep up with fast changing, dynamic markets. Fact is, there are too many suppliers coming in and out and the overall pace of technological change is too drastic to keep up with.


  • Lack of focus:  In many organizations, especially smaller ones where just a few staff must do everything, the workforce doesn’t have adequate focus to develop expertise in any one market.

Techniques for Conducting Efficient, Effective Government Market Research


Potential Solutions Towards Better Market Research

In driving toward potential solutions, leaders discussed a few strategies that can make a difference. Below are just some short examples, with more detail to follow in a separate article:

  • Early supplier engagement to improve market understanding – By engaging suppliers early, government programs and contracting professionals can benefit from getting input to inform requirements and to better understand capabilities/innovations in the marketplace.  However, leaders acknowledge this will require a mindset shift where more professionals see the benefit as opposed to any perception of risk from engaging suppliers.
  • Training on market research – Training was also identified as a key priority, but leaders also acknowledge that current training resources need to be updated and potentially overhauled.
  • Alignment with markets/categories – When possible, government procurement staff should be aligned by categories or markets. It takes time to become an expert on a market. Alignment and focus can help professionals build expertise over time.
  • Information sharing and collaboration across agencies – Where expertise exists, it is often not shared. Agencies can benefit from working with each other and identifying professionals who may already bring significant expertise.

RELATED: Six Tips for Better Market Research

These are just but a few of the potential solutions.  To be sure, this will be a hot topic for the public procurement and government contracting community.  Visit Public Spend Forum’s Market Research Library which is constantly being updated with resources and more.

Additionally, visit GovShop, our FREE, market and supplier research platform. As a one stop shop for faster, simpler market research, GovShop provides a browser-based modern search platform to help public sector buyers conduct comprehensive market and supplier research. On GovShop’s search platform, procurement teams can quickly identify, filter, and find current and emerging suppliers across all markets

GovShop is an easy-to-use platform built to help public sector buyers conduct market and supplier research.

Image Courtesy of Shutterstock

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