Tools & Technologies

A Great Example of Where "Tool" Doesn't Match "Process"

Down here in New Zealand, the NZ Government runs its tendering process for many things through “GETS”, or the “Government Electronic Tenders” website. While the process was designed to be transparent, efficient and encourage participation, the reality is quite different. Per a recent review in ResellerNews, IT leaders down here complain that it is anything but.

The main concerns center around what happens after a tender is submitted. Favoritism to certain vendors. Tender requests that are written with specific companies and products in mind — and so once you have put in your tender, if you aren’t from that company, you haven’t got a show. Here’s what one IT leader says:

Simpson agrees some tenders are written in favour of a company’s product being successful in a tender. “Typically, we don’t respond to any tender unless we have been involved with the customer on it from the inception. We have a lot of clients who end up having to put their bid process up on GETS, because they are required to. Most of those tenders are written around someone’s product and most of the time they have someone in mind they would like to do the business with.”

Unless a tender response contains “something extraordinary”, companies are “generally wasting their time” putting in a tender, Simpson claims.

In essence, the allegation is that the tool mis-represents what the process actual is, leading to a complete farce. And so this is a great example of where “tool” and “process” are mis-aligned, leading to mis-trust between firms and a waste of time for being involved. From reading the article, one gets the view that while the upfront tool has been changed (for some compelling and valid reasons), the rest of the process hasn’t changed at all. People in government still want to do business with people they know, and while the GETS process gives the appearance of transparency and competitive bidding, it’s just smoke and mirrors. The “announced rules” are different from the “enacted rules”.

What do we take from this example for our collaboration platforms? Simply that what internal leaders say they want a collaboration system to do and enable has to match the real intent, otherwise it will breed cynicism and mis-trust among the employee base. And that’s worse than doing nothing. There is a subtlety here too … long-time employees will know the “real” rules of the game, and will play accordingly, but newer employees may see that the firm uses this great tool, join up with a great deal of enthusiasm, and then face nothing but resistance from their peers until they too succumb to “real” rules.

What games are you playing with the use of collaboration tools at your firm? What are the real rules?

P.S. If the “real rules” create cynicism and mis-trust, changing the tool won’t fix the problem.

Categories: Tools & Technologies