Have you ever been involved in a tendering process, either as a purchaser or a provider, where the procurement process itself was found to result in poor satisfaction or conflict over the outcomes?
Often the fundamental flaw is based in the old adage about comparing apples with oranges.
Earlier this week I attended a seminar held by the Queensland Government on the subject of tendering for government contracts. In essence it gave attendees a greater insight into the processes and tools used to call for, receive and evaluate tenders for projects and provisions to Queensland Government agencies. The focus was to assist tenderers to increase their effectiveness and improve their chances of winning work through their bids.
Apart from giving me a much better appreciation of the extensive array of market related data available on government websites, the experience was invaluable to me in increasing my understanding of the Government’s procurement policies and processes – at least in their pure form. It was clear from comments during discussion that some participants have experiences that suggest that the probity framework is not always effectively implemented in all cases.
Nevertheless, where the framework is observed there is much to commend the architecture of procurement in terms of the opportunities it provides both for tenderers to demonstrate and promote their offerings and for the Government agencies to secure best value in selecting the successful tenderer.
All this caused me to reflect on the cornerstones of successful tender administration and Best Value purchasing, in particular the structuring of an organisation’s tender evaluation process. So many organisations find themselves embroiled in both internal and external argument involving the two pillars of good practice in this regard.
Clear and demonstrated probity.
In order to secure a trusted and competitive environment leading to the attraction of a good field of tenderers, the market needs to be confident that the organisation’s tendering processes reflect the following attributes or qualities
- Accountability – where the due process has effective managerial oversight.
- Fairness – where all tenderers have equal opportunity to present their best offers.
- Impartiality – where there is an absence of bias in all aspects of the process.
- Commercial in Confidence – where Tenderers Intellectual Property and commercially sensitive information is protected.
- Objectivity – where decisions at all stages of the process are free from subjective judgement or non-evidenced based conclusions.
- Replicability – where repeated evaluation of the offer against the same criteria by the same evaluator will produce the same result.
- Consistency – where evaluation of the offer against the same criteria by a different evaluator will produce the same result.
- Completeness – where the evaluation is conducted by means of comprehensive analysis of all aspects of the tender.
- BAFO process – where tenderers and evaluators can engage to refine submissions to produce Best and Final Offers.
- Advocacy – where tenderers have recourse to an appropriate grievance procedure should they feel prejudiced by aspects of the process.
Effective evaluation that achieves “best value” for the purchaser.
This means that the offerings chosen for purchase have –
- Fitness for purpose – where they will achieve the outcomes of their intended use.
- Compliance with stated requirements – where they meet all elements of the specification.
- Added value – where they embody additional capacity to meet the organisations objectives over and above mere compliance.
- Absence of Downside – where there is no collateral cost or dis-benefit to the organisation or its stakeholders.
- Guarantee of delivery – where all risks are managed to assure full completion, on time and within budget.
- Convenience – where administrative benefits are offered such as, early delivery, ease of installation, establishment support, help services etc.
The challenging aspect of sustaining these pillars is to create the appropriate framework to achieve their objectives without creating an attendant and awkward bureaucracy to implement it… but that is a post for another day.