Opening up the tender process

Anyone involved in responding to competitive contract opportunities will know the pitfalls of some tender projects, and how a well-organised process at tender stage will often create the perfect platform for a successful contract.

At a recent BIFM event, a guest speaker spoke about managing a tender process for a large, national financial organisation. The talk focussed on how much information was gathered ahead of the project launch and pre-qualification stage. The RFP that followed allowed for multiple opportunities to visit sites, a series of mid-bid interviews and clarifications and a 12 week turnaround time on the written response.

This approach contrasts with some other tender experiences, where availability of information and access to the current operation can present more of a challenge for bidding organisations. There are many reasons a company chooses to go to market for non-core services, but common objectives for all could surely be to see what the market can really offer. How innovative can we be in responding to their needs? How challenging can we be to their current operation and arrangements? How can we use our experience to find the best balance of cost and exceptional service?

This is only achievable through access to site, open sharing of existing challenges, volume information and strategic aims. Suppliers being asked to make assumptions on activity volumes, headcount and labour costs will never result in an ‘apples for apples’ ability to compare potential suppliers. This approach almost always results in difficult conversations during due diligence.

Rules are essential to ensure fairness and parity between potential suppliers, and deadlines need to be set and adhered to, but a move towards a procurement style that openly shares information and invites questions and dialogue would allow clients and suppliers to establish a partnership approach.

An investment in time ahead of tender release and an inclusive approach throughout will ensure the suppliers willing to rise to the challenges are given the chance to shine, and will see tender promises and aspirations realised all the sooner.

By Keith Seymour, Head of Business Development

Follow me on Twitter – @keithaseymour


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