Transformational Change

Transformation Defined

Terms such as reform, modernisation, capacity building or development and change management are frequently used and confused. "Transformation" as used in this app is an umbrella to encompass all these concepts. Transformation is defined as "a marked change or alteration, usually for the better".


The publication "Strengthening Country Procurement Systems: Results and Opportunities" provides an overview of procurement transformations over the last decade illustrated by a number of country cases. From these we can conclude that, if "Procurement Reform" and "Modernisation" describe the "what" of the transformation process, the "how" is increasingly influenced by practices and approaches that are often described by the terms "Capacity Development" and/or "Change Management".


Procurement Reform

Procurement Reform often involves a political dimension where government leaders consider linkages, sequencing, dependencies and synergies between other components of the public sector reform process. Procurement reforms are increasingly being described in terms of "first" and "second" generation reforms. First generation reforms have typically encompassed a package that includes legal and regulatory reforms, reform of institutional and organisational frameworks and training procurement officials and other stakeholders on the new arrangements. Second generation reforms often include initiatives aimed at upholding the integrity of the system and also related to the introduction of electronic Government Procurement (e-GP), professionalization of procurement, performance management, the links to other public sector reforms, the roles of stakeholders and, in some cases, the role of procurement in supporting or contributing to government social and fiscal policy objectives. The evidence also shows that these second generation reforms are being combined with a conscious and strategic focus on the "how".


Procurement Modernisation

The term Procurement Modernisation is increasingly being used bringing with it the idea of a process of continuous and ongoing improvements. Modernisation also brings with it the idea that improvements are based on the experiences and lessons from other countries.

Capacity Development

Capacity development enables institutions to deliver and promote human development through change in institutional performance, stability and adaptability. UNDP defines capacity as "the ability of individuals, institutions, and societies to perform functions, solve problems, and set and achieve objectives in a sustainable manner."


OECD/DAC defines capacity development processses "whereby people, organizations and society as a whole unleash, strengthen, create, adapt and maintain capacity over time." For core concepts, click here to read UNDP's Practice Note on Capacity Development and here to read Measuring Capacity that explains how to measure capacity development outputs and outcomes.


Principles for Capacity Development


Don't rush Establish positive incentives
Respect the value system and foster self-esteem Integrate external inputs into national priorities, processes and systems
Scan locally and globally: reinvent locally Build on existing capacities rather than creating new ones
Challenge mindsets and power differentials Stay engaged under difficult circumstances
Think and act in terms of sustainable capacity outcomes Remain accountable to ultimate beneficiaries












Source: Ownership, Leadership and Transformation, UNDP, 2003.

Change Management

Change Management

Procurement transformation clearly involves change; and there is a growing body of knowledge and experience relating to the management of change. Typically definitions of change management refer to processes and approaches used to bring out organisational change with particular focus on the human perspective. Some of the main reasons emerging from research as to why change projects fail include:


  • Lack of clear ownership and commitment at appropriate levels in the organisation.
  • Lack of a clear and powerful vision for the outcome of the change initiative
  • No link to the core objectives of the organisation
  • No sense of urgency (no burning platform for change)
  • Not removing obstacles to change
  • Failure to create quick wins and no follow through
  • Lack of effective engagement with stakeholders
  • Lack of skills and proven approach to project and risk management


 (Source: The Improvement and Development Agency, Communities and Local Government and the London Borough of Lambeth: Managing for Significant Change, 2007).

A number of change management models exist that aim to take a structured approach to addressing these issues. This Guide takes a practical approach to procurement transformation that incorporates aspects relating to reform, capacity development and change management.


The Process

Transforming procurement is not a one off intervention but a process since experience shows that once procurement systems reach a certain level of maturity, the desire and need to implement further improvements arises.


The process involves: Stakeholder engagement, assessment, strategic planning, implementation and evaluation.


This guide has been structured according to these steps. You can click each step of the process for detailed guidance or use the drop-down question menu to help inform where to get the information you need.