Regardless of the industry, scope of works or overall value of a tender, certain responses are permanent fixtures in the quality section of the tendering process due to their ubiquity in service delivery.
This includes responses on business continuity planning, contract examples, quality assurance measures and effective resourcing. Supply chain quality questions are particularly relevant given the current challenges to procurement, such as the impact of extreme weather due to climate change, the ongoing Russia–Ukraine conflict and industry changes following scarcity and subsequent adjustments during the COVID-19 pandemic. The challenges are so widespread and vast in their complexity that experts warn supply chain logistics could devolve into a ‘permacrisis’.
Now more than ever, purchasing authorities are looking for suppliers to demonstrate the resiliency, timeliness and efficacy of their supply chain. Here are some tips for providing comprehensive and high-quality responses to supply chain questions in tenders.
Outline your supplier selection process
To guarantee the provision of timely and high-quality plant, parts and materials, your supplier selection process should be robust and rigorous to eliminate any unreliable supply chain partners. Demonstrate your selection methodology in detail, making sure to mention:
- How potential suppliers are identified via reliable channels, such as through trade directories, industry recommendations or formal certifications
- Any selection questionnaires or supplier information forms which demonstrate their capacity to resource specialist and general parts/materials
- The location of suppliers, particularly if they are within the administrative boundaries of the buyer, delivering added value through circulating contract spend within the local economy and reducing carbon emissions due to shorter travel times.
Your internal process should also include a system for measuring supplier performance, with lines of escalation in place for preventative or corrective action for performance issues. Lastly, management-level reviews of all suppliers annually at minimum should be included in your supplier assessment plan, to facilitate continuous improvement.
Demonstrate effective risk mitigation
One of the most important principles to submitting successful tenders is demonstrating your organisation’s risk management procedures, thereby allaying any concerns held by purchasing authorities. Given the challenges to supply chains outlined above, you should include organisational measures for mitigating risk in procurement, avoiding unnecessary lead times and holding stock to overcome temporary shortages.
Best practice procedures include the following:
- Engaging multiple suppliers for the provision of commonly used plant, parts or materials, evidencing contingency should one supplier experience issues in their own supply chain
- Lead times and delivery methodology, including SLA conditions for extenuating circumstances, such as ring-fenced stock or emergency order timescales
- Maintaining minimum stock levels for commonly used and specialist parts in vehicles, local depots and central offices, avoiding a dependency on just-in-time delivery models.
To further eliminate risk, consider outlining your organisation’s measures for verifying quality standards for parts/materials, such as quality spot checks when receiving deliveries by suitably experienced employees.
Ensure your supply chain aligns with the specification and authority requirements
As supply chain questions are a routine part of tenders, there is a significant risk of evaluators judging your response as rote, stale or overly generic. To mitigate this, demonstrate how your supply chain can provide certain materials explicitly outlined in the specification, such as a specific brand of boiler for gas servicing contracts.
Equally, authorities may mention standards which are required for parts or materials, such as BS 8103-3 for the use of timber floors/roofing in housing projects. Including details of how materials align with standards mentioned in the specification will illustrate your professionalism, use of high-quality products and attention to detail when bidding for contracts.
Evidence your strengths when integrating subcontractors into workstreams/service delivery
If you are intending to subcontract portions of a contract or framework agreement, subcontractors are an important element in demonstrating the effectiveness of your supply chain. Subcontracting partners should be subject to the same working procedures and quality standards as your direct employees – this should be evidenced by outlining their role in:
- Initial onboarding, including the completion of a selection questionnaire which demonstrates their success in previous works, qualifications/certifications and sufficient resources
- Contract-specific inductions, ensuring they have access to similar training standards and information as directly-employed staff working on projects
- Quality assurance through scheduled and unscheduled audits, works-in-progress spot checks from supervisors and final inspections prior to client handovers
- Health and safety, such as mandatory training or certification, adherence to site-specific RAMS, and internal and external audits of working processes.
End-to-end processes for integrating, monitoring and reviewing subcontracting partners will assure the buyer of your responsibility in using trusted and pre-approved subcontractors to deliver workstreams.
Illustrate your lookahead/forward planning procedures for parts and materials
Forward planning within supply chains also constitutes a crucial element in reassuring purchasing authorities of your capacity to continuously deliver over a contract life cycle. To demonstrate reliability and consistency in supply chains, forward planning should consist of:
- Maintaining a dedicated stock management system with real-time updates on the total number of components, facilitating proactive adjustment to stock replenishment
- Identifying peaks in demand which will result in higher-than-normal consumption of plant, parts or materials
- Scheduling deliveries sequentially and in accordance with project phases, so depots and site storage areas are not overwhelmed.
A dedicated stock management supervisor should also be named within the response, assigning direct responsibility to one member of the team so the buyer is aware of the management structure for the contract.
Our tender consultants and writers have a wealth of experience in providing the highest quality responses to supply chain questions based on client information. To find out more on how we can support your organisation in a bid or tender, contact us free on 0800 612 5563 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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