Written by: Tara Palmer – The Pro Forum Community of Practice
Tender evaluations can be a long and arduous process. Questions, clarity, an unenviable amount of information and deadlines can create considerable stress for all parties.
On one hand we have a procurement team who have been delivered a list of services or products that they need to acquire. There is a legislate process if they are a government agency, and so a number of mandatory processes they must navigate and adhere to.
Then there are the suppliers looking to provide the services or products. They also have challenges around forward resourcing, capacity, and a desire to grow their business or deliver for their employees, local community and potentially even their country.
Each party can have competing deadlines and objectives – And therein lay the challenges.
- Do we as procurement professionals often get dumped with a last-minute procurement and have to minimise timeframes just to meet the urgency? Is this fair to us or for that matter the potential suppliers. Can they realistically prepare a comprehensive tender in that time?
- A project team may have identified an urgent need for object A – however you as the procurement professional know that there is a three (3) month lead time. How can you convey this information in a way that doesn’t escalate stress levels?
- Do we get annoyed when there seem to be so many questions, especially when they are all the same and about such small detail.
- As suppliers, is there an understanding that the procurement team may not be the subject matter experts and simply not know the answer to a question and require time to consult with others?
- Receiving a terse email from a supplier asking why they weren’t successful can raise the ire – especially if they are perhaps blunt.
The ‘Human’ factor :-
Noting that the majority of RFTs and RFQs are done online, it becomes a faceless process. Naturally for a fair process this needs to be the case. However, we do need to be mindful that there are people behind the process.
- Suppliers keen to grow their business and deliver outstanding results through the tender process. They may get frustrated at spending a great deal of time not to win a tender.
- Procurement teams determined to find the best value for money for the taxpayer and the agency and just wanting suppliers to answer all the questions in the provided documentation.
Good people wanting to do good things.
Understanding each other’s perspective can go a long way into reducing some of the stress that can be felt in the process. Remembering that even with all the training and experience, people can still make a mistake or overlook a detail without.
- Isn’t it a wise procurement professional who contacts a potential supplier that has uploaded a tender document that they omitted to sign before the tender has closed to advise of the omission so they can rectify the issue?
- Or an understanding supplier that asks a question that helps clarify some information for all potential suppliers?
- Even a procurement professional being able to follow up with an unsuccessful tenderer to highlight what areas they didn’t meet the criteria on – armed with this information might just help them next time around.
When we feel under pressure, it is easy to feel negative – we are all human. Reminding ourselves that we all have something invested in the process is just as important and helps go a long way in responding with an air of kindness rather than a halo of annoyance.