NOTICE: Recent revisions to the Core Policy and Procedures Manual (CPPM) and Trade Agreements mean that information,  including references to Chapter 6 Procurement on this page are out of date, links may not work, and should not be relied upon. This web page is being updated. Please visit Chapter 6 for the latest version of CPPM.

Planning establishes how a purchasing organization decides what to buy, in what quantity, and in what manner.

Note that this information pertains to services only (or a combination of services and goods); if purchasing goods refer to How to Buy Goods, and if purchasing construction-related services, refer to How to Buy Construction.


Planning Stage

During the planning stage:

  • The needs and requirements specific to the services are defined;
  • Business owners, stakeholders and risks are identified;
  • Costs are estimated and options analyzed; and
  • Approvals to proceed to contract are obtained.

But what does sufficient planning mean?  What does good planning look like?  The purchasing organization is responsible to define how best value will be achieved, to ensure that the services (including any related goods, if applicable) purchased from the marketplace meet the specifications defined, and to manage the arrangement that is put in place.  Core policy outlines how ministries are expected to achieve value-for-money through procurement planning.

An overview on the phases of the procurement process is available here.


Planning Tools

Note:  The planning tools described in this section are intended to be used when ministry-specific planning processes and templates do not exist for the services required.  Those ministries with their own processes and/or templates are listed to the right.  If the applicable ministry is listed, go to these links or contact the ministry's Procurement Specialist before using the information listed here.

There are a variety of corporate planning tools available to help ministries plan for their contracts. The tool used depends on the time available, and the estimated cost and complexity of the opportunity. The tools available include:

  • Needs Assessment: Answers who, what, when, where, why and how
  • Feasibility Study: After the needs assessment, used to determine if internal resources are available that could do the work, and if external expertise exists
  • Cost Estimate: Used to determine the approximate budget required; can be either preliminary or detailed
  • Risk Assessment: Used to identify possible risks and the potential impact of each
  • Cost Benefit Analysis: Costs out available options and evaluates against potential benefits
  • Business Case: Comprehensive planning document for substantive contract opportunities
  • Terms of Reference: Defines the work to be performed and contract specifications

The graph below provides high level guidance for the circumstances when each tool could be used. Note that the graph lists contract dollar values as a measure for complexity; ministries may have low-dollar contracts that are quite complex and therefore should consider more than just dollar value when determining complexity.  Remember, it is the responsibility of the purchasing organization to plan in a manner that is appropriate to the size and scope of the opportunity in question.


Planning Questions and Information

Before using the planning tools, it is useful to know the questions that need to be answered and information needed for the planning process. Following is general guidance to assist with this process:


1. Who needs to be involved?


Who is the business owner and who will make decisions about the funding available, timelines and quality standards?


Who will be affected by the results of this work, and how can they be involved in the process?


What technical experts are needed?


Is there time to assess the market and involve vendors in a conversation?  (See Vendor Relationships for more information on how this can be achieved.)


Who will be responsible for overseeing the contract's progress and reporting back on the value achieved?


2. What is the need?


Is there a true need? Or something that would be “nice to do”?


What is the purpose of the contract?  What objective is it intended to meet?


What are the quality standards that need to be met?


Are the expectations realistic?


What is the existing situation, and how will a contract change the situation?


Are there internal resources that are already working on this or could meet the need?


Does core policy identify a government entity that ministries must go through for this purchase?


Is there a supply arrangement that could be used?


Are there vendors in the marketplace that could meet this need?


3. How much time is available?


How soon does this contract need to start?


How much time is there for the solicitation process?  Are there applicable timeframes imposed under the Province’s trade obligations?


What is the contingency plan if these timelines aren't met?

3.4 Will timelines be impacted by key participants' availability (e.g. vacation schedules, heavy workloads etc.)?


Realistically, when does the contract need to be complete?


4. Where do the services need to be delivered?


Are the services needed in a particular location?  If so, why?


Can the services be delivered remotely?  Will time zones affect service delivery?


Are services needed in a remote location?  If so, what are the implications for vendor interest, capacity and availability?


5. How much money is available?


What is the budget and how will this funding be approved?


Can some of this work be done by existing resources?  If so, what is the cost of using these resources?  What work will they no longer be able to do if they work on this?


How realistic is the budget? How much research was done to ensure that it is adequate for the need?


Will there be ongoing costs (e.g. maintenance costs)?  If so, have these costs been included in the budget and approval process?


 6. What does success look like?


How does the success of this work relate to the objectives or purpose of the contract?


How will all parties know that the contract has been successfully completed?


How will success be measured? (e.g. quantity and quality of deliverables)


What are some of the key checkpoints to review progress?


 7. What risks need to be considered?


What might get in the way of a successful contract or outcome (i.e. the risks)?


How likely are each one of the risks to happen, and what might be the impact if they did?  Have the risks been prioritized?


Can the work be done differently to eliminate or minimize any of the high priority risks?


How should each risk be treated? Which risks will be accepted?


8. How will the participating vendors be evaluated?


What factors are critical to the success of this opportunity?


What skills, knowledge and experience are needed for this contract?


Is there an existing or previous contract with lessons learned that apply to this contract?


Who will be included in the evaluation process?


If a solicitation process is needed, who has the expertise to develop the evaluation handbook?  Will help be need from the ministry Procurement Specialist or Procurement Services?


9. What needs to be considered for the contract?


What will the final form of the contract look like?  Will one of the Province’s general services contracts (or other corporate or ministry contracting templates) be used?


What are the specific contractor’s responsibilities?  What responsibilities will the ministry maintain?


Have the identified risks and their treatments been included?


Will the contractor need any specific training or information to complete their tasks?


Are there privacy and information security considerations for this contract?


Are there intellectual property (e.g. copyright, moral rights) considerations for this contract?


10. How will the subsequent contract be managed?


How will open conversation be maintained through the term of the contract?


What records will need to be kept from the pre-award process and ongoing management of the contract?


If amendments are required and within the scope of the original procurement, how will the contract amendments be managed?


If all of these questions can be answered, the ministry may be ready to move to the pre-award stage of the procurement process. If anything is unclear, contact the ministry's Procurement Specialist or Procurement Services Branch, or begin using the tools available, starting with the needs assessment.


homepage button