All procurement, regardless of value or complexity, begins with someone identifying that they need something. This may happen on a regular basis for example the replenishment of items that are used on a daily basis - chemicals and consumables in the laboratory store, cleaning materials etc. For other things, it may happen on an irregular basis, for example:
- existing equipment or computer software may be becoming old or obsolete and needs to be upgraded or replaced
- new legislation places obligations on the institution that must be met within stated timescales
- cultural and physical demands may require buildings to be refurbished, replaced or their purpose changed to meet the expectations of to-day's students, staff and external clients
Having identified a need, the first thing to do is to challenge it i.e. ask if it is really needed? A number of questions should be considered (in practice the time spent on this challenge function will depend on the complexity of the need). For example, challenging the need to replenish the stationery cupboard would be significantly less than that for replacing or refurbishing a Hall of Residence.
Likewise there is little point in identifying what is needed if the request is likely to be rejected on the grounds of cost (whether on its purchase price or its likely whole life cost). It follows that some thought must be given to whole life cost considerations at the outset. These thoughts will develop into more defined calculations and justifications when funding is being considered.