As a concept, tendering is a fairly simple one. Essentially, it's an undertaking where everyone involved is aware of where the tenders come from, what information must be made available, and when and how each stage of the process is dependent on the other.
As a process in action, however, tendering is a different matter – one that usually takes up vast amounts of time and expense. Nevertheless, the more preparation you put in, the greater the chances of securing the best supplier for your business.
When approached properly, tendering can save time and keeps everyone informed and up to date throughout the process. So, to help optimise those supplier bids and keep any issues to a minimum, we'll take a closer look at what you can do from a buyer's point of view during the tendering process.
Get internal stakeholders on board
First things first, the relevant people within your company should all agree on a realistic set of requirements and timescales – with plenty of time to iron out the details of the contract. This ensures everyone is clear on the work that needs to be done throughout the process.
Involving stakeholders from the outset allows you to work through any differences of opinion before such clashes arise later on in the process.
Be clear about what you want
When writing your tenders, consider who has to view and respond to them. Unclear, unfocused tender documents could make the tender process more difficult than it needs to be.
Before you begin writing, think about what it is you need and what the supplier needs to show in order to win. Their responses should be more creative and detailed as a result, too.
For instance, if value for money is what matters most to you, be sure to tell suppliers your budget and what you expect them to deliver for it. The resulting trade-offs might create other valuable ideas that benefit both of you.
Specify roles and responsibilities
When it comes to the tender process, clarity is crucial. Establishing the roles and responsibilities of the procurement team ensures everyone knows who is doing what before the process begins.
Make sure everyone on the procurement team is clear on who will be carrying out things such as:
Create a detailed timeline
For the tendering process to go as smoothly as possible, the procurement team should come up with a detailed timeline of activities and clear deadlines. Additionally, schedule regular meetings so that you can solve and improve inefficiencies at regular intervals.
Stick to these timelines and deadlines
A huge amount of effort, coordination and manpower goes into the tender process.
Be mindful of others' time; it's probably going to take a few weeks to source the right people and devote the necessary attention to reading through the bids you'll receive. Let your potential suppliers know this by informing them of the time you'll need.
Likewise, avoid setting any unreasonable deadlines or moving timeframes ahead if you'd prefer to keep your company's reputation intact with its prospective partners.
Keep bureaucracy to a minimum
Large corporate companies tend to favour standardised procurement systems and processes like due diligence and corporate governance standards. And while such checks are needed to ensure new suppliers are the right fit, they can sometimes get in the way.
Instead, provide your potential partners with support. Be sure to guide them through your organisation's procurement processes and help them to prepare for any process-driven instances that might catch them out along the way.
Knowledge is power
The most successful tenders are those that understand and meet your needs. As a client, accruing and then providing this “access all areas" information lets the supplier know exactly who and what they'll be working with in the process. It gives them the chance to identify how your business works, as well as your people and processes. From here, they can supply the ideas and approaches to best serve your needs.
Doing this is also a good way to find out whether there's chemistry between your business and the supplier. You might want to further explore this through things like workshop sessions and formal Q&A meetings to explore your requirements further. This lets both parties demonstrate their human side, ensuring you're the right fit for each other before the process progresses.
Be mindful of mistakes
Responses and correspondence littered with typos and grammatical errors tend to be a red flag whether you're the recipient or the sender. If you're on the receiving end of these oversights, then watch out: perhaps these mistakes are indicative of the work that might occur later on?
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Deciding to work with a supplier is a big decision. Before forging ahead, make sure that the people you'll be working with are a good fit for your business. There's a human element to the process which often plays a huge part in the tender process.
When it comes to selection criteria, the more personal elements should be just as important as things such as value for money. You'll commit to working with them for an extended period of time, so if you require an element of emotional attachment with your supplier, make sure to stress this in your selection criteria.
Like other things in the tender process, it pays to be clear here – doing so will make your decision a lot easier.
Provide feedback to all participants
Even if you opted for a certain supplier, those who 'lost' this time around may be in a better position to help you later down the line.
For everyone involved, pitches and tendering are a chance to experience new challenges and bring in a different perspective from outside the organisation. What's important to remember is that, even for those who don't get appointed, it's still an opportunity for them to learn where things went wrong.
If you chose another supplier, then be forthcoming with feedback for those who might have missed out so they can improve their approach for next time. Use this opportunity to create a 'win-win' situation for everyone involved; you never know when you may be in contact with one of these other suppliers in the future.
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