E-procurement (or e-tendering) is fast becoming the preferred method for authorities to issue tenders and receive bids for public sector contracts.
You may be aware of portals such as Delta eSourcing, myTenders and Procontract, which various local councils and authorities use to manage their entire procurement process. Portals allow buyers to publish contract notices to potential suppliers, create documents available for download, receive responses online and then notify suppliers of the outcome.
Although the online method is designed to reduce administration, reduce costs and streamline the bidding process, it is often the case that companies become overwhelmed when they first logon to the portal. E-tendering systems are renowned for being difficult to navigate and tend to include a lot of information which is not always available in a user-friendly format for the supplier. Completing your PQQ or tender online also exposes you to possible technical errors which can be disastrous if encountered at the wrong time.
If you take time to navigate the portal and become accustomed to it, it can be a much quicker process than a hard copy tender submission. The questions and sections are presented in a very systematic way and as long as you fully understand them, there should be little margin for error as all word counts and limits are outlined explicitly.
Communication with the contracting authority is much more streamlined as all resources are available in one place on the portal and you can raise clarification questions and view notifications, rather than waiting for email or telephone responses.
Members of your bid team can review or contribute to the bid in one centralised location which makes submitting the final document a simpler process also – this is much more efficient than a hard copy submission which might have to be completed days in advance and couriered to the authority.
Common problems with e-procurement
PQQs and tenders come in a variety of shapes and sizes and often require a plethora of attachments and supporting documents alongside the pages of narrative and financial responses. This creates an additional job in itself: a compliance check of all work uploaded on to the portal. You may wish to work directly online, completing your responses in the text boxes provided, or transpose narrative from a word document—whichever method you choose, you must allocate sufficient time to check and double check that all boxes are filled, supporting documents attached and that your work corresponds to the correct section. For larger bids, there can be a great deal of information which needs to be submitted, and failing to do so correctly can result in losing that all important contract, due to a non-compliance.
Technology poses one of the main problems associated with e-tendering. Whilst completing your PQQ or tender, it is savvy to save your work regularly and keep a back-up document to prepare for any technical faults. In the hours leading up to the bid deadline, various organisations will be logged on to the portal and uploading their submissions—this can cause the website to crash or work particularly slowly. It is important when working on a portal to make sure you allow enough time ahead of the deadline in case there are any technical problems.
E-tendering also eliminates any design, imagery or formatting of the response, meaning there is even more emphasis put on writing a compelling narrative response in order for your submission to stand out against competition.
Professional bid writing assistance
Our team of in-house bid writers are well practised when it comes to e-tendering and navigating the relevant portals. If you are overwhelmed by the process, or simply do not have the resource in-house to manage your bid, we can allocate one of our bid writers to work alongside you and offer as much or as little support as you require. Over the years we have encountered numerous obstacles using e-tendering systems, from the authority not releasing the correct tender documents to the portal ‘closing’ before the allocated deadline – we’ve seen (and dealt) with it all!
For further information, call us free on 0800 612 5563 or email firstname.lastname@example.org