Procurement Lessons from the Death Star

Published: Tuesday 4th May 2021 at 11:25

Have you ever watched Star Wars and wondered of the Procurement Implications of designing, specifying, commissioning, and procuring a Death Star on behalf of the Imperials? The figures are mind-blowing and quite a daunting task for whomever was the poor Procurement Specialist who was given that project (likely if they did not do it, they would be under the threat of a 'force choke' from Darth Vader!).

Let us delve into the Procurement Cycle implications for how to procure a Death Star.

Understanding the Need

What is the ultimate need? Death and destruction? Fear and Terror? World destroying lasers? The ability to house the embodiment of evil and Sith power? Or simply because Darth Vader is demanding it? The stakeholder consultation is a great place to start to understand the need, but you would need to be careful not to question Darth Vader's reasons behind the need, (even if you think it is a colossal waste of expense out of the imperial budget), as he may decide to expend you and turn to the next unsuspecting Imperial Procurement Officer!

Notwithstanding, do not make the mistake of only consulting with Imperial high command. Think about the 1.7-million-man clone troopers that will live (and die ultimately) on the Death Star. They will need accommodation, decent plumbing, a canteen and possibly some entertainment and facilities. The stakeholder consultation stage is important in any procurement!

The Specification

As we know, all good procurement starts with a good and solid specification. Not only is the Death Star a world-destroying weapon, striking fear into the heart of the galaxy, but it also needs to house, as mentioned, a 1.7m-strong clone/droid army! This one may be above even the most talented Imperial Procurement Officer! On that basis, you would need to commission specialist architectural and professional services support to design it!

After all the budget for the Death Star is a cool £850 Septillion pounds! It's worth getting the spec right. But in commissioning an architect and designer, make sure you cover all risks and liabilities, after all you would not want them to accidentally design a flaw at the heart of the Death Star, making it easy to destroy! Who would be liable?


Well, before the tendering comes the first question in any procurement "Make or Buy?”. So, for the Imperial Procurement Officer, have you thought about whether an existing Death Star is available on the market to your exacting specifications? What is the mileage on it (in light years of course)? Or do you tender for a builder? By current technological standards, it could take as much as 8500 years to build, so perhaps that is not the best route (remember your Five Rights of Procurement (Right Price, Right Quantity, Right Quality, Right Location, Right TIME).

But.... you do have an existing direct labour organisation of approximately 2.5m. However, even your own army might not have specialist contractors, and so there could be some element of ‘tendering’ for contractors to support the build. Make sure the risks, health and safety and insurances are set up and have a performance management framework in place to monitor their quality with penalties if they fail to deliver. Just be aware that there are legal implications for force, choking a contractor’s team for non-performance! If you are going to go with the ‘make’ option, do not forget you need to procure possibly the entire galaxy’s source of building materials, including 20,000 miles of plumbing and enhanced laser technologies! That is a procurement of galaxy-sized proportions and will need extensive planning!

The Launch Stage

Assuming the death star has been designed (with no flaws) and built (with your slave clone army), we are ready to launch.  The Imperial Procurement Officer will need to have provided all that is needed to ensure the Death Star will be used to it's optimum. This includes a comprehensive training process for all Death Star staff (right down to the canteen staff, as you would not want a fire at the heart of the Death Star), user guides, perhaps a galaxy-wide marketing campaign to make sure enemies (and friends alike) of the Empire understand that you can destroy them with your new shiny product!

Contract Management

It is safe to say that the Death Star will need the odd bit of maintenance. After all, bits of floating Xwings may crash into the death star whilst orbiting enemy planets. So, the Imperial Procurement Officer will need to ensure they have covered the 'whole life costs' and have contracts in place for facilities management, maintenance, and upgrades. These contracts are best negotiated over an extended duration.

After all, you are planning to use your product throughout the galaxy for 100 years or so. Also, they would need to think about the logistics of taking supplies and deliveries into the Death Star across the far reaches of the Galaxy, so any supplier must be pre-vetted by the Imperial Procurement Department and be able to deliver (possibly next day if Darth Vader requires it) across the galaxy. Do not forget Insurance too - you never know what can happen in the cold dark of space. Make sure you have Comprehensive Insurance, not just fire and theft!

All in all, on Star Wars day, let us give it up for the Imperial Procurement Officers who are the unsung heroes (as ever in procurement) of the Empire. Do not be too hard on them that their risk assessment for the whole procurement failed to spot a 1 x 1 metre exhaust vent that just happened to lead to the internal reactor, which caused the cataclysmic explosion. At least they did not kill Darth Vader! (Or would that have been better perhaps!?)

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