Procurement policy

This document summarizes and organizes the practices prevalent in Edgeryders around employing people. They are not being changed, simply made explicit.

1. Background and principles

Most Edgeryders projects need to procure goods and (especially) services to achieve their objectives. This document contains the guiding principles and recommended practices for doing so.

The overarching principle is this: Edgeryders aspires to be part of a long-term healthy productive ecosystem. That means being a competent and vigilant client, that avoids waste, but not an exploitative one, that elicits cutthroat rates from our suppliers. It follows that the goods and services we procure should be adequate to the needs of our staff. They should also be cheap enough as to be good value for money, but not so cheap as to become extractive.

To achieve these goals, Edgeryders procurement practices should:

  1. Incorporate some element of competition across suppliers. This will prevent us from getting complacent, and keep scanning for better quality and fairer pricing.
  2. Be nimble and as little bureaucratic as possible. We want our staff focused on delivery, not compliance with internal norms.

This policy was written with procurement in the European Union and other high income countries in mind. We reserve the right to adopt different ones for projects anchored in middle- or low income, where market conditions are different. This is true in particular for the quantitative thresholds of section 2.

2. Which kind of service?

We classify goods and services in the cells of a 2x3 matrix. Some examples are given below:

off-the-shelf bespoke
very cheap paper clips (no such thing)
cheap printing of leaflets one editorialized blog post
expensive retreat venue video production

For the purposes of this policy, “very cheap” means “no more expensive than a few tens of euros for the whole supply”. “Cheap” means “no more expensive than a few hundred euros per supplier”. “Expensive” means “everything else”. Please note the “per supplier” part of the definition: a single 50 paperclip box would cost about 2 euros in a stationery shop in Brussels, and therefore be very cheap. If, for some reason, we were to need a large supply of millions of paperclips, then we would be dealing with an expensive item, and recommended procurement practices would change.

3. Procurement practices

The recommended practices for procuring a good or service depend on which cell of the matrix it falls in.

  • For very cheap items, the main scarce resource is the time of the staff procuring the item. Just go out and buy it, bring a receipt, don’t waste time on procurement.
  • For cheap and off-the-shelf items, we recommend browsing two or more websites of suppliers, then picking the best combination of low price, high quality and convenience (for example delivery).
  • For expensive and off-the-shelf, we recommend starting by a web search as above, and then – unless the websites are especially well made and clear – getting in touch to clarify any remaining doubt. For example, when renting a venue for an event we could be asking about accessory services, like Internet connectivity, drinks and refreshments, and the presence of a technician on site. It is best to try to get written offers, from two or three suppliers.
  • For everything bespoke, we recommend recruiting from the Edgeryders community when possible. Edgeryders is, after all, a social enterprise, and many of the thousands of members of our online community are freelancers. In the past years, our preferred method of recruiting contractors has been via open call on the Edgeryders platform, also reshared on social media, newsletters, emails and so on. This works very well for the special (and frequent) case of content generation: editorialized blog posts to get a conversation started, documentation from events (“community journalism”), and so on. When this is not possible or appropriate (as would be the case for local services, which are a poor fit for Edgeryders as a global community), we recommend recruiting from the communities that we are working with. For example, when procuring videos we have worked in the past with local crews when working on the Matera European Capital of Culture 2019 project.