What is e-tendering?
E tendering is simply where the procurement process is conducted online. So you create a user name and password, log on and from there you can:
- Submit an expression of interest (EOI)
- Complete and submit a PQQ (pre qualification questionnaire)
- Complete and submit a tender
- Download all relevant bid and tender documents
- Ask and receive responses for questions pertaining to your PQQ and Tender
- Track the progress of your PQQ and tender
- Receive notifications of any changes to the specification of the PQQ or tender
- Keep all you PQQ and Tenders in one place (for that organisation)
- Upload any relevant documents.
Benefits of e-tendering
E- tendering is useful because it guides you through a very structured process. Unlike conventional tendering, e-tendering takes you step by step through the tender and sometimes you even have to complete one part before you can progress to the next. Even if that is not the case, the e-tendering system will be divided into discrete sections and usually an e-tender will have very prescriptive questions so it will be easier to give the client the response they are looking for.
With the layout and the questions clearly stated you do not have to worry about format or form and no one has any advantages because of their flair for design.
I also believe that e-tendering goes some way to levelling the playing field, everyone is answering the same questions and often within a set word limit so it should be much easier for the evaluator to reach an objective decision with an e-tender than a conventional tender.
An e-tender usually has some fool proofing to it. So you cannot submit an e-tender unless you have completed mandatory sections or at the very least it will warn you that you have not attached the documents. This means it is almost impossible to submit a non compliant bid.
Using an e-tendering portal (e-portal) also means that it is much easier to pick up where you left off some e tendering portals even have a percentage telling you much you have submitted
Disadvantages of e-tendering
The downside of e-tendering is that there can be a lot of questions and I mean A LOT. It can seem like a marathon and often the questions do not seem to link through to one another.
This makes e-tendering difficult to do for long spells. With a traditional narrative tender I can often sit down and write for six or eight hours, sometimes even longer. With the e-tendering system it is more like two or three. The questions can be disjointed and badly worded and it breaks up the flow. Sometimes the tenders are very dense and confusing, difficult to navigate and even more difficult to access in the first place.
E-tendering can be quite prescriptive and as such it does not leave as much room for innovation. It can be done but it is much harder and I believe much more risky.
Whatever you do when you are completing a tender via an e-tendering system SAVE YOUR WORK REGULARLY.
Some sites are better than others but:
|The website can crash||Your computer can shut down or your desktop may be affected by a power cut|
|Your internet connection may suddenly go down||Your time on the e-tendering site may time out.*|
*Government regulations mean that they websites time out every 15 minutes unless you refresh the content, 15 minutes isn’t long!
Tips for submitting e-tenders
Write your answers in Word and then paste them into the answer boxes. This acts as a spellchecker and also retains a record should anything go wrong with the e-tendering e-portal.