What Can SEA Learn From European Procurement Partners

In the world of procurement we are always trying to improve and we are always learning from each other. Whether it’s sharing knowledge between companies, neighbouring states or even continents, there are a lot of different ways we can improve our procurement processes.

In some ways, SEA has a better way of doing things and in some way, the European countries are ahead when it comes to procurement. Of course, not everything that works in Europe will work in Southeast Asia. We might not have the same resources, geographical location and even have different cultures but apart from that, here are some of the things that SEA can learn from European Procurement:

Acknowledging online accreditation from procurement knowledge learning

In Europe, digital learning is widely accepted by companies and procurement professionals and it is widely available. Not only are procurement professionals able to enhance knowledge during their free time without physically attending a class or meeting a professional instructor, their online knowledge is also accredited by companies – which barely happens in a Southeast Asian countries.

Asian countries still prefer certificates from accredited institutions which means Procurement Professionals and inspiring procurement professionals will be behind at graduating (especially if they have a busy work schedule)

It’s time Southeast Asian companies acknowledge accredited online learning and for SEA professionals to adopt the digital way of learning so that they can move faster towards providing better procurement services.

Start professionalising public buyers

Even in European countries, public buyers often lack the essential business skills, technical knowledge and practical understanding for effective public procurement. The result of this is the lack of compliance with public procurement rules and indirectly it will have negative consequences for businesses and taxpayers.

However, the difference between European countries and SEA is that the European Commission has already issued a Recommendation to encourage European countries to contribute in ensuring buyers have the essential skills, knowledge and integrity. The Commission is also facilitating in the exchange of good practice and innovative approaches.

Maybe it’s time for the ASEAN Commission to lend a hand in helping Southeast Asian businesses educate their public buyers with the necessary procurement knowledge. It doesn’t have to be as intense as providing training but a simple brochure hand-outs and an even more structured initial consultation will help the public buyers. It might seem like a hassle at first, but towards the end it will only help benefit businesses and taxpayers.

Increase access to procurement markets

Needless to say procurement should be made more accessible SMEs and local companies. In Europe, SMEs only successfully manage to win 45%  of the value of public contracts while other European companies that want to bid on public tenders abroad face multiple challenges in accessing non-European markets. The numbers are even far scarier for SEA countries. While countries like Malaysia and Singapore are already heavily regulating their procurement rules and regulation to ensure more accessibility to their local SMEs, there are still a lot that needs to be done for other SEA countries.

In Europe, The Commission is helping SMEs by enhancing transparency, digitalising processes and improving strategic procurement.  It is also in the process to improve EU businesses’ access to non-EU markets through trade agreements.

As said previously, while Malaysia and Singapore are following in the Commission steps to ensure equality for their local SMEs, there are still a lot that needs to be done for other SEA countries. Perhaps it’s time from the ASEAN Commission to get all hands on deck on improving the transparency and accessibility to procurement markets for all SMEs in the Southeast Asian region.

Working together to increase the digital transformation in procurement

Not to say that Southeast Asia is completely behind with their digital transformation. In fact, countries like Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand are pioneering the digital transformation in procurement in Southeast Asia.

However, there isn’t centralised governance like the European Commission that is helping companies in SEA as a whole to transform their procurement into a digital platform. This means that while some SEA countries are already ahead, they might come across issues when dealing procurement businesses with other countries in SEA that is not already digitalised.

In Europe, the European commission is already using e-procurement tools such as eCertis, the European Single Procurement Document (ESPD), and European standards for eInvoicing to help businesses in European countries improve the procurement productivity and to ensure the process runs smoothly throughout the region.

It may take a while for ASEAN to get all SEA countries to jump on board but if there is one thing that we can take from how Europe is managing their procurement is that having a centralised government in power definitely helps speeds up the improvement process and allows businesses across Southeast Asia to work together in a more seamless way.

ThunderQuote is the most comprehensive business services portal in Singapore, Australia and ASEAN , where hundreds of thousands of dollars of procurement contracts are sourced every month by major companies like Singapore Press Holdings, National Trade Union Congress and more.


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