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.
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.
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.