The guide 1. Plan

Define outcomes

Decide on clear, measurable outcomes to ensure your supplier and your team understand the goal of the procurement.

Why it's important

Thinking in terms of goals or ‘outcomes’ rather than specific things to buy in a procurement allows you to:

  • reduce or eliminate bias towards certain products or suppliers
  • deliver better products and services for users
  • include wider social, environmental and economic benefits
  • be more flexible with suppliers during the delivery phase

What it means

Instead of deciding up front what you want to buy, discuss with your team the desired outcome you want to achieve. For example:

  • fewer non-emergency calls to an emergency service number
  • new drivers are able to apply for a driving licence without having to post documents or visit an office
  • staff that work remotely can access and store documents securely

Using the last example, if you assume the solution will be buying laptops for staff then you will only get laptops suggested by a supplier. If you specify the outcome a supplier may come forward with a different solution.

Outcomes may also be linked to the wider social and environmental goals of your organisation. For example:

  • creating opportunities for gender equality and social inclusion
  • improving skills and access to digital technology
  • reduce or offset environmental impacts

These goals should be linked to the subject matter of the procurement and be specific and measurable. For example you could ask the supplier to:

  • provide training opportunities or events for girls and women studying technology subjects
  • track user satisfaction or the uptake of a particular service by people with disabilities
  • requiring the supplier to dispose of hardware responsibly and monitor the carbon footprint of a service

To make sure outcomes are delivered you should:

  • include them in your requirements and contract with suppliers
  • consider linking payments to outcomes so suppliers only get paid in full if they deliver the desired outcomes
  • monitor outcomes during the delivery phase of the contract
  • understand that changes may be required during the contract as you and the supplier discover how best to deliver a set outcome

Do's and don'ts


  • base goals or outcomes on research carried out with your organisation, end users and suppliers
  • ensure that outcomes are realistic for suppliers to provide
  • insist that outcomes are measurable


  • do not write complex outcomes relating to particular software or hardware solutions
  • do not include hard-to-measure outcomes, for example ‘reducing poverty’

How New Zealand is using procurement to benefit indigenous businesses