9 Tips to Improve the Tendering Experience for Your Suppliers

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TENDERING SUCCESS

9 Tips for improving the tendering experience for your suppliers in order to get more supplier to respond to tender requests. Read More

9 Tips to Improve the Tendering Experience for Your Suppliers

As a seasoned procurement professional, I am privileged to work both for the buyers and sellers in the tendering process.  I have done many tenders myself where I requested companies to tender.  In addition I also work with suppliers to respond to request for tenders.  I have to admit that at times I find the tendering experience for suppliers very frustrating and time consuming.

From my own experience and aim to continually remove the pain points in procurement, I know more can be done to simplify the structures of tender requests to remove unnessary red tape and get the right suppliers to respond to your tenders. 

It is juggle to balance the requirements of compliance, red tape with the aim to make the procurement process is simpler and more straightforward process. Balancing the tendering experience requires:

  • Planning and preparation to understand what is required to achieve the balance between compliance, meeting outcomes and improving the supplier user experience;
  • A commitment to develop a well detailed, logical scope of work or tender specification;
  • Tendering to serve an outcome rather than just ticking boxes;
  • Include details about your business drivers in order to let suppliers make informed decisions on whether it is worth responding – or not;
  • An ability to keep to the basics;
  • Allowing room for innovation and don’t get stuck in form and process;
  • Development of a logical tender lay out;
  • Regular updates;
  • Feedback post tendering with opportunity for lessons learned.

1.Planning to make tendering easy

As with everything in life, planning makes a huge difference.

I am realistic enough to know that at times:

  • business requires quick action and
  • stakeholders do not engage procurement early on.

However, in my experience procurement excels when we get out and proactively engage with our stakeholders on upcoming requirements.

This way procurement can:

  • proactively plan the right sourcing strategy,
  • understand compliance requirements,
  • work towards business outcomes and
  • have time to simplify tender writing requirements.

2. Develop a detailed, logical and well presented scope

Often this is an area where everyone seems to be passing the buck way too often.  In my opinion scoping requires team effort. The area requiring the goods or services provides technical input, safety add their bit, accounts payable may even have its say.

In the end, commercial responsibility lies with procurement.

Procurement’s role require us to be gatekeepers to make sure that:

  • the scope is clear,
  • the tender sets clear expectations, defines roles and responsibilities,
  • sets out what is in/out and
  • details how to measure success.

The tender request must be clear enough so  suppliers can tender on what is required and not have to continually try and guess what you want.

Remember,

  • Suppliers will price based on the scope;
  • Unclear or flaw scopes lead to suppliers’ pricing for unnecessary risks.

Also – suppliers have the option not to respond.

You need to have your house in order for the suppliers to want to sell to you.

3. Tendering should serve a business outcome, not just tick boxes

In the community services and not-for-profit areas there is much discussion on the impact of the changes around outcomes based procurement.  In essence, this should not be a new concept as all procurement has a form of outcome attached to it.

Outcome is based on what the outcome is you would like to see from the tender, why you want to achieve this outcome and how you measure success against the outcome.  It is really starting with the end in mind.

Please contact us if you would like to know more about outcomes based tendering.

4. Improve the tendering experience through including business drivers as part of the tender writing

It is important to understand the key business drivers to any tender.

  • Are you focused on lower pricing on the shorter term?
  • Or are you trying to build sustainable innovative solutions that take somewhat longer but build partnerships?
  • Do you treat your suppliers as partners rather than commercial hostages?

Often business focus primarily on cost savings.  Business accepts innovation  only as long as it will help to reduce cost today.  But on the long term, this may not sustainable.

Whatever the drivers are for your organisation – it is important to share this with suppliers in order to make sure that suppliers know if they are the right fit for your organisation.

5. Stick to basics

For me, tender writing becomes much more workable experience when you understand:

  • what you will evaluate before you issue the tender;
  • your pricing model and what will affect your budget;
  • what will impact on pricing;
  • who your “perfect” supplier is, what its business is and looks like;
  • clearly who carries the risk;
  • how to choose terms and conditions that are fit for purpose and reflect the size of the contract as well the risk position; and
  • the importance of site visits.

The best tender writers simplify tender writing so that business can focus on quality tenders instead of paperwork and tick boxes.

Remember, someone completes your tender. Therefore the aim should be to write the best tender possible.  Your tender has to be easy to work with and improve the tendering experience for suppliers.

Too often, we think it is a take it or leave it scenario and clients should be grateful for the opportunity to tender.  But it is important to remember that the way you present a tender reflects your business, your values and sells your company as a client.

6. Make room for innovation

When you ask for innovation, be innovative.  Often, I see tenders asking for innovation but leave no spot to even inform you more about what innovation means.  Even worse – the evaluation criteria lacks scoring for innovation.

Same with value for money.

Value for money is not all about the lowest price.

If your driver is price, do not ask for value for money solutions – ask for the lowest price.  Then organisations know what you want.

Are you only following rules and tendering but already have picked a solution?

It is important to realise how much time and effort it takes to complete the tender.

If you need to confirm pricing, do a price check but don’t waste precious time.  Time is money after all.

7. Develop a logical user-friendly request

One of my pet irritations when helping clients submit tenders, is that the scope sits on p 39 of 76 page document.  The rules of a tender are important BUT you really first need to be able to work out if the scope of the tender fits in with your organisation. Having to sift through stacks of pages to get to the actual scope is really painful.

I used to have my scope as a separate document.  Easy to get to and easy to work out what is required.

Do not only prepare your request for tender based on your own needs, but take the time to step into the shoes of your suppliers.

8. Regular updates light up the blackhole

There certainly is a perception that tenders once submitted, it goes into this blackhole.  Communicate regularly on tender evaluation progress.

It is great to see milestone dates but the suggestion would be to link this to a time table rather than dates. Too often you will find tenders being awarded only after the project was meant to be completed.

Having a proposed time line rather than milestone by calendar entry would be better.

9. Provide feedback in the form of lessons learned 

Most companies realise that, unless a panel contract, there is only one winner.

However feedback from a lessons learned perspective, is really good and helpful.

Feedback provide companies recognition for the time to do a proper evaluation. It gives them an idea as to what they did really well and where the opportunity for improvement is.

I recommend to my clients to always ask for feedback, successful tenderer or not.

However, I must say many companies receive poor feedback or no feedback at all. This is an area where more respect should be shown to suppliers for the time and effort they took in submitting their tender response.

In conclusion

When you arethe procurement person or the contract owner tasked with tender writing, step outside of the stress of being the one having to get the tender out in time and step into the shoes of the suppliers on the other side of the fence.  In the end, it will benefit both your organisation as well as the suppliers.

This will achieve the right outcome – successful, innovative, solution driven cost effective tenders.

If you have any questions on your go-to-market strategy, request for tender development or evaluation requirements, please feel free to contact us.

About the Author:

Celia Jordaan has more than 30 years international and corporate experience and worked in the areas of procurement, tenders, supply chain, contract management, law and risk. She works with business of all sizes and industries, procurement leaders and teams to develop and implement strategies to boost business performance, make tendering easy and improve bottom line performance.

To learn more about Celia Jordaan, please click here.

For more information on how we can assist your procurement team, your business with tendering or strategic business development and planning, please send us an email today.

Ichiban Commercial Solutions Procurement Advice and Tendering Solutions Celia Jordaan

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