This was presented by Alexis Heaton at the International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) in Kigali, Rwanda in November 2018.
For over a decade, our community has put in place important supply chain visibility tools, like the Procurement Planning and Monitoring Report and the RH Interchange, but their siloed and outdated technology is hindering data validation and collaboration. Therefore, the Global FP VAN is establishing a single, more advanced, flexible virtual collaborative platform that allows teams to simultaneously see the same data and make supply decisions together.
Selecting a single system to meet the myriad needs of the community required creative thinking. Unlike a typical tender process where there is one “buyer” calling the shots, the Global FP VAN initiative has many “buyers” with diverse needs. A collaborative process was therefore needed to define the requirements and start the procurement process. First, the Global FP VAN initiative established a three-staged request for proposal (RFP) process that combined a more traditional request for information (RFI) with the RFP. Second, an interactive platform was used to allow for an open, but secure, way to manage access to documentation, conversations, and updates across the community and bidders. Finally, the initiative integrated use of regular task force meetings, weekly calls, and recordings to engage the community and the bidders to work together on defining requirements to forge a collective “ask” of the bidders. Together this formed the basis of the RFP Addendum, including all final business and IT requirements, proposal templates, and the scoring guide to choose the system. Following the selection of a technology partner, this collaborative group has been an integral part of the design and launch of the system.
An initiative like the Global FP VAN needs community buy-in to the technology platform to be successful and sustainable. This requires an innovative approach to system selection and design that involves users of the platform and captures their varied perspectives.