Bid Feedback – What Procurement Says, What Procurement Means

Here is another of our "best of" posts from 2015 for your holiday period reading pleasure! 

____________

I still do a small amount of consulting work these days.That is in part because I enjoy it, in part because it keeps my hand in, and it means I can still claim to be a procurement practitioner of sorts rather than purely an analyst / writer / commentator on professional matters.

My work includes supporting organisations that are running procurement exercises (often where they don't have their own teams) but also working on the bid side, more often than not when the organisation is hoping to win a public sector contract.

So we're going to feature more regularly here some of the issues facing both sides of the contracting table - from a very practical standpoint rather than any great theories. And we'll try and bring a few war stories and real life examples into it as well, and maybe even a bit of humour.

Today, very much on that note, let's look at feeding back to unsuccessful bidders. It is good practice, of course, for a number of reasons, and is a legal requirement for some public sector contracts.  So we'll get into it in a more serious manner in another post. But today, the question is this; what are the best and most useful euphemisms that you can use, as the buyer, to give the bidders something they might perceive as useful, but without annoying them so much they never speak to you again or challenge your decision?

Here are some of the best I've seen and used. And if you are a supplier reading this; it doesn't mean this is always what the buyer means - but it might be! If you are a buyer – please let us know your particualr favourites!

What we say:

In certain places, your proposal was hard to follow.

What we mean:

Please learn to write / spell / use decent grammar. No green ink. And for heaven's sake, if one more bidder says "It's benefits are clear... " I will scream. Apostrophe's!

 

 What we say:

We were unable to fully assess your bid because of presentational issues.

What we mean:

Give me strength. Font size 6 text, charts that have been shrunk to 5% of their original size, MS Project Plans that are fine on A3 but not on A4... if I can't read it, I can't mark it.

 

What we say:

We did not feel you quite answered this question in the way we required.

What we mean:

Can you idiots read? Your response bears no relationship to what we asked! Answer the question we posed please, not the question you think we should have asked or hoped we would ask.

 

What we say:

Your staff do not seem to have the experience required to carry out the services required.

What we mean:

Putting in 2 graduate trainees, an interim who we know was fired from six previous firms and a lady who might be coming back from maternity leave, to carry out our strategic consulting project does not fill us with confidence.

 

What you say:

Your response was somewhat generic rather than addressing our specific needs.

What you mean:

Look, we can spot a cut and paste job from past bids, or entire sections lifted from your annual report. We're not stupid, you know.

 

What you say:

Your response whilst covering a lot of ground did not focus on the key points of our questions.

What you mean:

Twenty pages of management jargon then just saying "see appendix 4" as an answer when we thought you might tell us how you will actually carry out the work is not good enough. Particularly when Appendix 4 is just 27 pages of process documentation.

 

What you say:

Your bid was too expensive.

What you mean:

Two possibilities here: a. Your bid really was too expensive. If we wanted it gold plated, don't you think we might have told you?

Or b. Your bid was a tiny amount more expensive than the winner, but we just can't be bothered to give you more complicated feedback about why you scored lower on the other factors.

 

What you say:

Whilst your bid was very impressive technically, and your pricing was in line with other bids, the winning bidder simply scored slightly higher on the "building relationships" evaluation criterion. You were a close second.

What you mean:

We've worked with you before, you absolute ba****s! But never again, at least not while I'm running the evaluation process!

Discuss this:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *