One of the key challenges of sustainably procuring ICT lies in the lack of transparency in supply chains. To overcome this challenge, an open dialogue has to be established with suppliers, forging a relationship to encourage and promote sharing and monitoring of supply-chain activities.
In relation to the environmental challenges of the ICT sector, procurement approaches should ensure that information regarding the qualities of the equipment, their repairability, and the availability of recycling and disposal services is clearly communicated by the supplier to the public authority.
This information should be disclosed and easily accessible to avoid unnecessary and inadequate disposal of equipment, ensuring that those having to make decisions regarding the equipment are aware of the options available.
Define your needs and understand market capability
As previously stated, two of the key challenges of the ICT sector are: gathering supply chain information, and prolonging equipment use. The following approaches can help you to better understand market capability regarding supply chain transparency, and ensure that procured equipments respond to real needs.
Conducting a needs assessment process before procurement processes is essential when implementing Open SPP. An accurate description of needs will prevent procuring unnecessary services or products, avoiding, thus, the unnecessary waste of resources. Needs assessments when procuring ICT should take into account:
- Assess the option of repairing available equipment: for example, if a public authority is considering buying new printers, they should analyse the state of current equipment, identifying which are the performance issues and whether these can be fixed. This can be done by gathering contract information and contacting the supplier of the equipment and/or maintenance services.
- Map out current and future needs: if the decision to procure new equipment has been taken, public authorities should gather the necessary information to understand their real needs and how these will inform the drafting of procurement documents. This can include having a clear idea of the staff that will be using the equipment, and any foreseeable staffing decisions that might alter this number. This process can also include gathering information regarding any accessibility adjustments that should be integrated in the equipment to ensure adaptation to users with different abilities.
Before deciding to procure new equipment, it can be useful to contact other public authorities regarding the availability of any unused equipment. Establishing a communication channel amongst public authorities where they can publish information regarding unused equipment can be a way to promote circularity and avoid unnecessary purchases.
Engaging with the market is essential to evaluate its capability to meet the sustainability factors that can be required during the procurement process. When it comes to ICT procurement, this is especially relevant regarding supply chain transparency criteria.
Market engagement can help to define what current practices are regarding this area, for example, supply chain activities are currently being carried out by more than 50% of the potential suppliers, this can be set as a technical specification or award criteria.
However, if this is not the case, then it can be set as a contract clause as a commitment by the supplier to improve supply chain management. See this section for more information about different market engagement methods.
Select the best procurement practices
Additionally to the approaches mentioned in the previous sections, we include below two procurement practices that support SPP implementation in the ICT sector.
Many times, ICT equipment is not procured directly from brand owners, but from resellers or manufacturers. Engaging with resellers can be beneficial not only from an economic perspective, as their prices are often lower, but also to gain access to a broader offer of equipment, which can facilitate comparisons regarding sustainability.
In these cases it is important to maintain a continuous dialogue not only with the direct supplier (the reseller) but also with the brand, to ensure that the information regarding sustainability can be effectively captured.
Standard terms that commit the supplier to providing continuous improvement of service can be included in the contract, evidencing continuous improvement can be a clear condition of any contract extension or re-procurement. For example, it can be agreed that the supplier has an obligation to notify the public authority of any new features that could improve the energy efficiency of the equipment. Another clause that can be included is the provision of the service, by the supplier to the authority, of implementing any necessary changes to adapt to new software needs.
Continuous improvement clauses can also relate to supply chain management activities. This can include, for example, setting out which activities the supplier should carry out during the duration of the contract to ensure freedom of association, such as specific training or auditing activities.
See this section for more information on continuous improvement clauses.