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5 key points to writing a tender document

Writing an effective document which can be sent out to possible suppliers for tendering IT systems can be a daunting task to anyone, even for the most experienced of procurement experts.

Here at Total Enterprise Solutions we have had to reply to our fair share of these so we thought an excellent blog article would be the five essential dos and do not’s of creating a tender document.

So here goes … from the point of view of the supplier.

1 – Do … Give yourself ample time

The most common issue we find as suppliers to the tendering process is the outlined timetable.  Please give yourself enough time to complete the process and try to think of bottlenecks that may occur.  You may want to schedule in visits with the potential suppliers customers for reference statements if so you will need the right person at the organisation to help you.  Giving a one-week time frame to this section may not be akin to the delivery and availability of individuals.

2 – Do … be consistent

Tendering is an effective tool to iterate your requirements to suppliers, it gives you the ability to communicate the same information to multiple suppliers at the same time.  One flaw we see from time to time is miscommunication through dialogue.

From previous experience, we have seen the same requirements in different sections of the functional requirements document worded differently because two people in the organisation require the same functionality.

This would only prompt a supplier to confirm clarification of the requirement.  Something which might not seem difficult to respond to, but if you have to respond to the same question from twelve different suppliers, this will start to eat into a non-productive use of your time.

So review each department’s requirements and pool them into a central document before you issue your requirements and if the same requirement exists in multiple sections, highlight this to us by  the form of a reference number.

3 – Do not … be afraid to ask for input!

Some of the best tenders I have ever received have been where the customer is not afraid to ask for advice in certain areas.  You may have a requirement that falls a little off-piste and you do not know how to accurately describe the scenario.  There is no reason why you cannot describe as best you can the process and then ask “we ask YOUR advice to overcome this”.  Us suppliers welcome these challenges.

4 – Do not … Assume!

Communication is the key, try to describe your requirements to the best of your ability.  Only if the requirement is mentioned will the functionality get responded to and don’t take for granted that a finance solution SHOULD be able to handle multi-currency.  Functionality in one product may not be standard in another and you must always try to define what the importance of the functionality is.

You should also ask the potential supplier to describe how they would achieve your problem and also workflow the possible solution.

Don’t be afraid to put a good level of detail into this, all you will do is scare off the weaker suppliers and you should only be left with the suppliers who wholeheartedly believe they can provide a solution.

If a supplier hasn’t got the time to accurately fill out your tender document with the correct detail, would you want them to win and be a trusted partner to your business anyway?

5 – Do … set out your evaluation criteria at the start

This will help you judge us better and it will also us to understand your business drivers better.  Highlight this as clear as you can, what are you trying to achieve? Price? Functionality? Company Fit?  How important is each category to you?  This is important as it will put the supplier into your organisation mind-set and your tenders will be framed based on this information.

Hope you have enjoyed this post and please feel free to contact us if you require any more help about this or any other of our products and services

Andrew.lees@totalenterprisesolutions.co.uk