Need your advice and input here:
Had an interesting discussion with an executive yesterday, he was lamenting the trend towards more and more tenders and RFP’s. He understood and acknowledged their benefit and the importance of due diligence, especially in times where every expenditure scrutinized and re-examined in an effort to ensure maximum return on every investment. He agreed that this was a plus for day to day items, that he defined as day to day staples, be that office supply, fuel, etc., but felt there was more harm than good when it came to more “important” decisions that had a broader impact on the company. The example he used related to supply chain/logistics.
He felt that the way the process unfolds now did reduce costs, but with it reduced a number of others things that were not meant to be reduced. He highlighted that in most instances it favoured the mediocre and punished creativity. One example he gave related to questions submitted by vendors to clarify aspects of the tender document. He did not understand why when one vendor submits a question, it is shared with everyone bidding. His view is that those questions often allowed the creative stronger offerings to rise to the top, being able to demonstrate the tangible difference in approach, the product, and support after the decision is made. If you were smart enough to ask a valid and relevant question, you should be able to benefit from that creativity, especially when it truly enhances the potential experience the buying organization could achieve.
Sharing these questions, the “differentiators”, allows the weaker vendors to submit and get back on what seems to be a level playing field, but is not. There is a difference in being good at responding to tenders, and having a superior offering. Sharing the questions with everyone, and then allowing them all to answer, just lowers the field to the lowest common denominator, and eliminates real value superior products/services can deliver. His view was that if a vendor can demonstrate value through those questions; introduce aspect of the solution the creators of the tender may have missed. Someone who has a superior product and implementation plan, but may not be as polished in responding to RFP’s, could be out done by an inferior product, but a better talent in writing responses. He felt it punished creativity, and rewarded low price and creative writing.
Sure it is up to the buying company to do their work, and research and to ensure that they are examining the purchase thoroughly, but the tighter the bid process, the harder that is to do.
I didn’t know how to respond to him, especially given the fact that he was not an executive in an organization that lost a bid; he was an executive with the company that issued the tender. His concern was that he would end up with the best product the process allowed for, not the best product for the job at hand.
How would you respond to him, especially if you issues RFP’s?
- Understand how bids were put together, who wrote them and why, this will help with the next two points
- Make sure you demonstrate you value in all interactions, long before the bid process continues
- Develop ways to push the envelope without pushing the wrong buttons
What’s in Your Pipeline?