Tender briefings, are they valuable?

Bid Write offers tips for buyers (especially procurement staff that usually organise the briefings) and bidders/sellers to get the most out of tender briefings.

Top tender tips from Bid Write.

Like most things in life, your view on tender briefings will depend on particular circumstances and perspectives.

Listed below are some thoughts and tips for both buyers (especially procurement staff that usually organise the briefings) and bidders/sellers to get the most out of tender briefings.

Thoughts and Tips for Buyers:

• Purpose: What is the point of the briefing session? What are the key messages you want bidders to leave with? Why can’t you do this in writing? Make sure you have thought about the benefits of conducting a briefing before adding the extra tendering time and effort.

• Scope: Are you using the briefing process to paper over a poorly defined requirement? If you are, then perhaps you should direct efforts toward improving the written scope.

• Resources: Have you allowed sufficient resources to properly prepare for and manage the briefing and/or site visit? There can be significant organisational issues if multiple tenderers and remote localities are involved.

• Timing: If a briefing is being planned, then how far into the tender open period do you hold it? Being too early or late can be problematic.

• Questions: Have you anticipated the sorts of questions that tenderers will ask? And how are you going to provide answers? (Hint: taking every question on notice does reinforce the “valueless” argument!)

• Individual Meetings: Are you prepared for meetings with individual tenderers (if they ask) or are you mandating one session where everyone turns up?

• Fairness: If you are not going to make attendance mandatory, how will you ensure valid comparisons between tenders submitted by those that did attend vs those that did not?

• Attendance List: Do you want to disclose the attendance list to all participants or let the tenderers try and figure out who is attending?

• Follow-up: Make sure that anything said, produced or committed to in connection with a tender briefing is properly documented and incorporated into the overall tender process.

Thoughts and Tips for Bidders/Sellers:

• Attendees: Really think through who you send along to the briefing session. Why do you want them there? What are they going to do/say at the briefing? Are they the best people to enhance your bid response efforts?

• RFT: Read and understand as much of the RFT as you can before the briefing. As well as getting the most value from the briefing, it also means you can resolve any inconsistencies on the spot.

• Visibility: How visible a presence do you want? Do you sit at the front and ask lots of questions? Or do you sidle in unnoticed into the back row and make sure you only sign the attendance sheet just before escaping?

• Competition: Try to work out your competitors through the attendance lists, networking or directly asking the buyers at the briefing.

• Presenters: People presenting at the tender briefing are likely to be evaluating the tender. Do you know them? Can you work out what they, as individuals, hold most important?

• Insight: Consider what isn’t being said or presented as much as what is. You should get valuable insight about what the key issues are and the things that may not be as important.

• Questions: Ask strategic and insightful questions, not minor detail which can be answered outside the briefing through the clarification process.

• Opportunity: Is there anything that could benefit you or the bid by being raised in a group setting? For example, are there any particular concerns with the pricing schedule where you may actually get support from other bidders?

• Pricing: Use this opportunity to find out whether pricing will really dominate decision making or whether overall value is the key requirement.

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