Procurement contracts are the agreements to use certain products and services on a project. The types of procurement contracts and are typically either fixed-price, cost-reimbursable, or time and materials. Some agreements can include more than one of these payment structures on a single procurement contract.

The process of procurement management allows you to find the right contractors and suppliers for the goods and services you need for your project. Using the right type of procurement contract can have a significant impact on a project's success since each type of procurement contract comes with specific benefits and downsides.

The procurement manager is responsible for analyzing the scope of the project to determine whether it can be completed using internal resources or whether outside vendors will need to be hired. Needs that must be outsourced will be subject to the formal procurement process. For example, a telecommunications company may outsource invoice creation to a printing vendor who can create these forms and mail them to subscribers.

Both buyers and sellers in an organization should understand the formal procurement process. Procurement contracts are used across almost all industries and businesses. While private companies have flexibility when it comes to procurement, government agencies must comply with specific rules and regulations because they are spending public funds.

Ideally, procurement results in obtaining appropriate goods and services that meet standards for time, location, quality, and quantity at the best possible cost.

Procurement Management

Your business may require procurement when the following applies:

  • You don't have the expertise to conduct a specific task.
  • You don't have the resources to handle a specific task or to complete a project.
  • You don't have the required capacity for the goods or services in question.
  • Outsourcing the goods or services in question costs much less than obtaining them in-house.

Procurement can involve buying hardware, equipment, or other goods needed for a project, or it can require hiring a consult or service provider. Before beginning the procurement process, determine whether the benefits of procurement outweigh those of completing the project in-house.

Procurement is the best option to save the time, money, and stress involved in training employees to conduct a task in which they are not experienced. It makes more sense to hire an expert and have the job done right. Procurement allows your venture to focus on its core business and to outsource tasks that fall outside that mission.

While businesses once completed everything they needed independently, doing so can be impractical and cause you to accrue significant costs and to develop a substandard product, both of which are bad for your company. For this reason, your company should establish a procurement management process to find the best vendors and suppliers and to negotiate beneficial contracts that account for the interests of both parties.

Stakes of Procurement Contracts

Like other contracts, a procurement contract legally binds two or more parties, typically a buyer and a seller. Contracts detail the terms and conditions of a particular project. Forming a contract inaccurately can cost you money over time. If a contract is inadequate, you may need to spend money to get the other party to legally comply or pay extra because you opted for a time and materials procurement contract instead of one with a fixed price.

The procurement manager is responsible for selecting the best contract for a particular project. Procurement contracts are categorized into the following types and subtypes:

  • Fixed price contracts
    • Firm fixed price 
    • Fixed price plus incentive
    • Fixed price with economic price adjustment
  • Cost-reimbursable
    • Cost plus fixed fee
    • Cost plus award
    • Cost plus incentive
  • Time and materials

Fixed Price Contract

With this type of contract, the seller agrees to provide their service or product at a set price, independent of resulting equipment, material, and labor costs. This means that the seller will bear any costs beyond the agreed-upon amount. This type of contract has the least risk for the buyer. A well-defined scope and statement of work and a selection of competitive bidders help control pricing for this type of contract. If you don't have a clearly defined scope of work, this may not be the best type of contract.

If you need help with types of procurement contracts, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.