How fair and smart procurement?

Geschreven door Thijs op 22 March 2023

Companies and organisations regularly ask us how they can improve their procurement process. After all, there are a lot of assumptions and uncertainties. Time to bring some clarity and collect best practices.

Governments and subsidised organisations in particular find the regulations difficult to apply. However, it is simple. Up to 30,000 euros, the purchase procedure can be done via ‘Accepted Invoice’. With accepted invoice, there is no obligation to effectively request at least three offers. It suffices to consult at least three providers (e.g. three websites), provided they can prove that consultation.

If the amount exceeds EUR 30,000, governments and subsidised organisations are in principle not required to choose the cheapest one. In other words, they draw up their own award criteria (based on references, plan of action, demonstrable sustainability, price, experience in the team, cultural fit, etc.). The main condition is that the modus operandi of ‘Accepted Invoice’ should not lead them to always turn to the same provider. That’s it!


Reduce wasted time

Things dare to go wrong at times. Commissioners sometimes make things very difficult for themselves. Recently, for example, we received an enquiry where it turned out that 16 other candidates were contacted. Nice to explore the market a bit, but it meant reviewing and validating 17 proposal dossiers. All candidates attached a detailed plan of action, timing, CVs and references. Solid work to plough through all that.


With or without a free proposal?

When asked for a creative or strategic proposal, we have become fairly cautious about responding to requests. Sometimes there is a good reason to make a proposal, especially when it comes to high-volume or long-term campaigns or projects. Clients then really want to know what kind of meat they have in the barrel. If they are smart, they can make the process shorter and more qualitative. Although we remain convinced that asking for free work is not really appropriate in a procurement procedure. Rather invest in dialogue.

The clever and fair approach

Factors such as pre-selection, feedback and compensation make the buying process fairer and more qualitative for both parties. How can the client best approach pre-selection (call for interest)? Make a shortlist of agencies, e.g. max. 4 that fit within predefined criteria. What are the needs and what is the profile of the project and/or organisation? Exploring the market beforehand is a must: distinguish between marketing and advertising agencies, visual communication agencies, freelancers, DTP departments of a printing company,… In short, make expectations clear. describes what the ideal situation might be: “Get quotes based on existing references if you want to compare prices for a clearly defined question. However, if you want a visual elaboration to base your choice on, organise a pitch. You should then provide a budget to reimburse the work of the 2 or 3 studios/designers you have called on but are not holding back.”


Are you considering a paid pitch? Common practice is to provide 5-10% of the budget to be spent to reimburse proposers. The percentage depends a bit on the effort requested. Is it a concept for a campaign or rather an outline proposal for a publication. For example, work with two rounds: one round selection based on references and motivation statement (no remuneration), one follow-up round with a maximum of 3 agencies where you pay the 2 agencies that finish last. The interesting thing is that everything is structured step-by-step with enough room for a preliminary process with dialogue. This approach ensures a more qualitative result at a later stage.


Samengevat in 8 tips:

  1. For purchases up to €30,000, follow the ‘Accepted Invoice’ procedure, which requires you to consult at least three providers (via websites, for example).
  2. Authorities and subsidised organisations do not always have to choose the cheapest option, but can set their own award criteria based on e.g. references, plan of action, sustainability, price, experience and cultural fit.
  3. Make sure you do not always address the same provider in the ‘Accepted Invoice’ procedure.
  4. Be careful about asking for free proposals without dialogue and rather invest in mutual communication.
  5. Shortlist up to four agencies based on predefined criteria.
  6. Clearly define the needs and profile of the project and/or organisation/entity.
  7. Consider organising a paid pitch and reimburse participants with 5-10% of the budget.
  8. Work step-by-step and devote sufficient time to dialogue with potential providers.



By making expectations clear and providing a budget for selection, the buying process is fairer and more qualitative for both parties. Josworld believes that good dialogue and a step-by-step approach lead to the best results. Questions or suggestions?



Co-founder Thijs