”Prepare To Win”- Full Life-Cycle Tender Management

The clock slowly ticks towards the end of the game. The score is leaning heavily in their favour, but the players at both sides still power on and push for success. Each play, tactic and technique has been well prepared and planned for the win, everyone pulls together and ultimately the best team wins.

Other than having incredibly skilled players, a playbook is essential to any team’s success. A playbook for tender lifecycle management is as essential to a tender’s success as it is for a team’s. At iDDea we are proud to provide a variety of services within and beyond the procurement arena. In the first of a series delving into our specific expertise, we will look at our proven playbook for tender lifecycle management.

But before we can look at the playbook and what it entails, we must first look at what a “tender” means to us at iDDea. The word “tender” on its own is a homonym, which means it is a word that contains multiple meanings: think of bat, or matter, or pen. Imagine swinging a baseball bat at some fruit bats. The words make total sense in their context, but on its own, ‘bat’ can mean any number of things. Tender is the exact same. If you search for the meaning of the word “tender”, you can find a plethora of definitions. So, we already have a mountain to climb in relation to understanding what it means. However, since you’ve come to iDDea, it is reasonable to assume that you have some understanding of what a tender, in the context of what we are discussing means, so we already have climbed some of that mountain.

In the procurement business, ‘tender’ usually refers to the method through which businesses invite bids for a large project. At iDDea, the term ‘tender’ covers the wide range of stages and processes from the beginning of the tender, with the tender brief of what we are trying to achieve and assembling of the responsible team up until the final award of business. Other stages include the data requirement baseline, as well as market engagement, which involves testing the market to identify whether it is the right time to go into the marketplace as well as other factors, like the actions being taken by competitors. The tender also involves the drafting of the ‘fit for purpose’ specification documents, wherein time is carefully spent developing and including all documents that are necessary for the suppliers to be able to submit a commercial proposal, and the publishing of the e-tender, the post e-tender review and the blended decision matrix.

Now that we have established what the tender is and what it involves: what about the playbook for tender lifecycle management? In our playbook, there are various different aspects needed to ensure a successful tender. In each of these aspects, we place an emphasis on efficiency, effectiveness, prioritisation, transparency and interdependency.

The Tender Brief:

This is where we detail the specifics of the tender. It is important to us at iDDea that we engage with our stakeholders early in the tender process so that we fully understand the scope of their needs for the tender. What do they want to achieve? These wants and needs, the objectives and intended outcomes of the tender are made clear in the tender brief. The strategy for the tender is also established in the tender brief, which should be thorough, detailed and clear. Furthermore, we would ensure that we understand the assumptions and the risks as well and we agree the measures for success.

Lean e-Tender Process:

A key step in managing the tender lifecycle is to ensure an efficient and streamlined e-tender process. At iDDea we place an emphasis on efficiency throughout the tender journey, because we believe that an efficient tender is a successful one. In our playbook of tender lifecycle management, efficiency is kept at the forefront, so that all resources are used in the best way, and no time is wasted because tasks are clear and performed without delay. The e-tender process involves several steps. The first is supplier sourcing. We ask our customers what initial criteria are important to them in the search for suppliers, so we take care to find as many suitable suppliers as possible for a given tender. We use different channels to ensure we have a broad network of suppliers in the given market. This translates into questions in an RFI – Request for Information, where we contact potential suppliers, making an enquiry regarding the products they provide, to clarify if they are suitable to our customer to be included in our tender. Following this, once we have clarified that the supplier does provide what we are looking for, we ask the potential suppliers to provide a quotation or a proposal. The next step is supplier onboarding, which refers to the getting all the relevant information from the company as a supplier for the tender and also to train them into the rules around how to submit a compliant tender. This involves collecting all valid documentation and data and ensuring that the prospective supplier is reliable and in line with laws and regulations. The e-tender documents, that have been drafted in collaboration with our customers, are then send out to the qualified suppliers and we ensure the tender format best suits the specific tender.

RACI & Timelines:

Throughout the lifecycle of a tender, we at iDDea know that it is important to have the right people in the right places. As part of our playbook for tender lifecycle management, we make sure that each person’s role and time required of them is carefully mapped out, as well as the resources required to carry out each task. When deciding on the people responsible for tasks in a project, we think it is important to follow RACI:

R – Responsible – this is the person who is responsible for carrying out the task.

A – Accountable – this is the person who is ultimately accountable for the task. They are usually a step above the Responsible person and can help guide them.

C – Consulted – this is the person who those carrying out the task gets feedback from on how to carry out the activity

I – Informed – the person who needs to know what decisions and actions are taken

 

At iDDea we believe there should be a clear chain of command when carrying out tasks, similar to managing any project. This way, everyone has someone they can turn to for help and in the rare occasion something goes wrong, the person responsible is clear.

Supporting our stepped through process flow for assigning each person their roles, we also have clearly established timelines, so that the trajectory of each project is clear. This allows us to keep track of the progress of a project and make sure it is being carried out on schedule. In establishing these timelines, we focus on prioritisation. In doing this, we make sure that each task is dealt with when it is necessary. This means that we waste no time on tasks that do not need to be completed yet, while also ensuring that the important tasks are dealt with in a timely manner.

Additionally, by planning out timelines, we are able to manage any future risks. We implement a Risk Register, wherein we identify possible risks and pre-emptively take actions to respond to these risks. We also employ risk mitigation to reduce the possibility of risks arising throughout the tender lifecycle. We ensure, then, that risks are all identified and tracked to make sure that they do not hinder the tender lifecycle.

Team Management:

The RACI step outlined above also involves assigning the right people to the right teams. Once they have been assigned to their teams, it is important that these teams are all managed effectively so that their tasks are performed on time and performed well. Effective team management involves teamwork and communication among the team, as well as objective tracking and performance appraisals. We believe that a team will work best when their goals are clear and every member of the team know very definitely what roles they are to perform, as well as the pace the other team members are working at.

Effective team management involves effective engagement not only with internal stakeholders, like those involved in the project and [the businesses] but the external supply base as well. Throughout our proven playbook for tender lifecycle management we place emphasis on interdependency and knowledge share, and this is especially true when it comes to team management. We believe interdependency to be significant to the success of a tender because it is important for us to acknowledge that we need the input of all parties involved in the tender to make sure that it is successful, especially our internal stakeholders and external supply base, without whom the tender would not be possible. Thus, we become the translators of the needs of our internal customers and engage the suppliers in a given market to provide us with sustainable options and solutions. We again translate the options out of the market in to the blended decision matrix to obtain the optimum decision for our internal customer where evaluation criteria such as price, quality, service, account management and sustainability are intertwined to get the best possible outcome.

Results Reporting:

For a successfully managed tender, it is essential for frequent and clear reports of progress and results. At the earlier stages of the tender, like supplier sourcing, we make sure to document every step and report to fellow members of the team responsible. When it comes to results reporting, and in all of tender lifecycle management, we ensure transparency to make sure that our clients are clear on every step we take and why we take it. Further, we keep detailed records of each step of each tender stage, so that our clients can track every move being made and what the outcome was.

If we have not focused enough in our previous paragraphs on communication, reporting is all about appropriate communication. In strategic sourcing, fit for purpose communication is critical for the success of any negotiation and we will dedicate another blog only on the topic of the value of communication in life-cycle tender management.

 

Now that we have outlined our playbook for you, you too can go forth and climb mountains, win games. Have successful tenders.

5 Critical Steps to Stop your Supply Chain Disintegrating

This global pandemic we are experiencing is the most significant economic disruption since the 1930s. Apart from the human tragedies every day, we have to consider the global disruption to business in general, and in the supply chain in particular.

In response to that the team at IDDEA are helping companies ensure they have what they need to keep delivering and keep their promises to their customers.

  • Helping a construction company source the materials it needs to build much needed homes.
  • Guiding a transport company to ensure that it can procure what it needs to keep trains on the track.
  • Partnering with a major grocery retailer to keep bread, flour and canned products on the shelves.

Supply chains are under pressure; but the winning companies have developed a Five Point Procurement Plan to increase the resilience of supply and build better relationships with key suppliers. (In many cases they have also achieved significant cost savings, by focusing on the problem.)

Step one: Where do you start? Identify your top suppliers

To assist with strengthening your supply chain, start with the information you have at hand. Look at the data which can be used within your business. Your financial data provides visibility and a window into your supply base; it is the first step in identifying your critical suppliers. This spend information will tell you the story of where you are spending most of your money. It is important to measure these suppliers by spend but also by the risk they pose to your business.

To help identify top suppliers ask yourself:

  • What would happen to my business if this supplier stopped trading?
  • Would there be an immediate impact?
  • Would you experience a supply interruption or how many weeks would it take to impact your business?
  • What are the attributes of your current critical suppliers?
  • How quickly can you change to an alternative?

Any single source supply channel, regardless of spend, may be a potential issue to your ongoing operation.

What supply criteria is key for your business? – it may be cost, quality, delivery or lead-time, service or brand reputation. Make a list of your essential requirements and reference it with your supplier base. Identify your critical suppliers and make a finalised list of who they are.

Step two: Reach out and communicate – suppliers

Once identified, it’s important to stay connected with these top suppliers even if you don’t need to buy currently.

Key questions to ask them:

  • Are they still operating? (and in what capacity?)
  • Have they new ways of working? If so, what are they?
  • Are their strategies changing? (responses to difficult times tells a lot – flexibility, determination to get ahead of competition, etc.)
  • What are they doing to minimise your risk as their customer?
  • How can they support you? (renegotiate credit terms, redistribution of stock, buy back etc.)
  • Can you work together to resolve any issues or think of better ways of working going forward?

Brainstorm to find opportunities within the conversation and ensure you continue to check in with them regularly.

Step 3: Establishing new suppliers – what’s involved?

If you feel you need to explore potential new suppliers, conducting market research will better inform you. Tools like Porter’s 5 forces, SWOT analysis and PESTLE analysis are very useful in conducting market analysis.

Think about the key questions you need to ask potential suppliers. Condition them effectively by developing an RFI (request for information) template.

This should include your important considerations and criteria such as:

  • Do you require quality standards or certifications (e.g. ISO, QS)?
  • Is the supplier financially viable?
  • Will they extend you credit terms and establish a line of credit?
  • What are the costs associated with shipping goods?
  • Is location something you need to consider?
  • What are the tiers of their raw materials?
  • What are their product specifications or technical information?

Also think about the key questions you need to ask yourself:

  • Should you change your sourcing strategies to include a more local approach?
  • How will establishing new suppliers impact your costs?
  • What is your breakeven figure?
  • Can you absorb cost increases, or will you have to increase prices?
  • Will new suppliers impact your brand?
  • What are your competitors doing? Market research into your competitors response can provide interesting insights.
  • Are there government funding schemes available to help with your capital and cash flow?

When you have answered the relevant questions above, finally ask yourself: How can you use this information to bring value to your organisation?

Step four: Reach out and communicate – key clients

Reach out to your key clients and share how you are building supply resilience with them; they will appreciate being informed and knowing that their demands can be met.

Points to discuss with clients:

  • Advise clients on the work you are doing to minimise risk.
  • Listen to their concerns and enquire as to how you can help.
  • Ask can you work collaboratively to joint measure risk and plan for future growth.
  • Inform your clients of the inventory you are holding and ask would they be interested in forward paying for this stock at a reduced cost?
  • Find out if their strategy is changing and find an opportunity for you to be involved, this will help to strengthen your relationship.

Remember, you are the vital link between your suppliers and your clients, and you must endeavour to tighten that chain of supply.

Step five: Use this time wisely

Finally, look at your existing business operations holistically. Companies rarely have time for reflection and observation, now is the perfect time!

To identify what you can improve on ask yourself:

  • What were those initiatives you felt were interesting but never had time to focus on?
  • Do you need to enhance your marketing capabilities?
  • Is there an opportunity for online trading?
  • If you’re already online, is your eCommerce platform fit for purpose?
  • Is it time to enhance your online presence?
  • Can you build specifications to future proof your business?
  • Can you avail of government grants and support to enhance your online platform?

Remember …

Use this time to improve your business and plan for the near future. We will shortly see the return of employees to work and the reopening of non-essential retail outlets. You will need to develop new and innovative ways of working, both in your company and with your suppliers, that are compatible with social distancing.

  1. Analyse your data and making note of your key suppliers and materials.
  2. Collaborate with your suppliers
  3. Communicate with your customers – remember you are their supplier.
  4. Identify risks and opportunities in your supply chain and broaden your supply base. (Look for local opportunities; we all need to help each other and the answer to your supply chain might be closer than you think.)
  5. Use this time wisely.

Finally, remember that we will emerge from this period of uncertainty. What is important now is to take the lessons we have learned to build a stronger foundation from which we will rise and rebuild our businesses. We can be changed by what happens to us, but we will refuse to be reduced by it.

Stay safe and stay strong.

At IDDEA, we are committed to empowering professional buyers to positively impact their businesses through strategic sourcing. Changing buying behaviours can prove challenging, however our strategic procurement framework is proven in bringing success and improving results for businesses. Get more info here: https://iddea.ie/

 

When ”I” is replaced by ”We”

As the Irish nation re-adjusts to life working at the kitchen table, it can be difficult to switch off after ‘’a day in the office’’.

The IDDEA team are lucky in one sense as we have been developing remote working skills over a period of time and working from home is part of our weekly routine. We have a good balance between visiting clients on site and working remotely. I would love to share our top tips for staying connected during these unprecedented times.

Top Tips:

Stay in contact: Zoom or Teams are great media platforms to connect with your colleagues. Iddea schedule a Team’s call every second day to check in with each other and we never leave without a smile on our face. It is great to connect on non-work-related topics and catch up on all the latest Netflix recommendations. If you are feeling demotivated, pick up the phone and contact one of your colleagues as it can be good to hear a friendly voice and its good to know that you are not alone during this isolation period.

Stay Active: Mary Ryan- IDDEA’s eAuction Coordinator aka our virtual fitness motivator has set up a great initiative to get the team moving. She has set up an online tracker whereby we list our weekly workouts. Whether it is the daily household chores or a 2km walk, everything counts and gets tracked. At the end of every month it is very rewarding to reflect on all the good work that you have done! Yoga is also a great way to start your working day and some Instagram handles that have come highly recommended by the Iddea team: ‘’yogawithmaura’’ and ‘’yogaandval’’ both accounts run free daily yoga classes from the comfort of your own home.

 

Come dine with me: You always have the smart (or lazy) ones who take advantage of a situation to create an opportunity. Working from home has its challenges for working moms so our CEO Ingrid proposed to her family to start a “come dine with me” competition where a rota was agreed that every day, everyone different in the household was going to show off their cooking skills. A balanced scorecard was set up to track the performance and criteria such as taste, texture, innovation and presentation were rated. So every few days, food recipes are being discussed on our zoom call and recipes have been shared. And she is happy to share that her youngest 15-year old daughter is showing amazing flavour combinations and is winning by a mile!

Party-Animals: The “Young ones” of our team have their own challenges with social distancing while keeping their social life active. Every time, the “Old ones” in the team are delighted to hear about what new social media game or virtual party was organised. Bingo Loco, which was Ireland’s, go to night out has now launched via Facebook live. Bingo Loco has the same concept as traditional bingo but with a modern twist. Stay tuned to their Facebook page for updates on their next virtual bingo party https://www.facebook.com/bingolocoie/ 

 

Meet the Fockers: We have been introducing our friends and families to one another via Zoom. In many circumstances we are away from our family during covid 19 therefore, we show photographs of our loved ones whom we miss dearly or family members that live in the household pop on the screen and give a wave. We are so close as a team and it is a nice to connect on both a personal and professional level.

Back to the Future: Making a list of future plans to offset somewhat the current feeling of loneliness, anxiety or the general feeling is a great mood-booster: when the “New Normal” starts, the top 3 things I will do is…..! Sharing the big and small things we look forward is very powerful and triggers a sense of hope, excitement and energy. The negative thoughts of cancelled holidays, festivals, foodie experience, city trips and family occasions, we turn in o future plans. Only the positive “what if” scenarios can be talked about and we all get excited about each other dreams. “The Return of Investment” of sharing each future plans is 2000:1 as that is where our hope and future self lies

Staying connected and staying true to yourself, we empower each other in good and hard times. There are 3 choices in life you can make: give in, give up or give it all you got! Finding a way together to give it all you got, will make you stronger. As they say, tough times never last, tough people do. Finding the “we “ in “I” is what we are trying to do at IDDEA. We hope some of top tips of our remote working experience, might work for you. Be well, stay safe, keep close and mind each other.