As a potential tenderer for either public or private sector contracts, you are only really party to the specific areas that involve you directly.
But it is useful (and interesting) to have an appreciation of the full procurement cycle and where you as a potential supplier fit into the picture. Below is an overview of the full tender process as commonly used in the public sector and often modified by the private sector too.
1. The procurement Strategy
Prior to seeking bidders, the buyer will need to clearly define what it is that it seeks to procure. This means preparing a business case detailing the need for the product or service and how the process will be conducted. The pre-notice preparations will include calculating the contract value, developing the initial stages of the contract, specifying the exact goods or services to be procured and defining the broad qualities of the desired supplier.
2. Advertising the Tender
In order to attract interest and a broad range of potential suppliers, the buyer will place a notice in various relevant publications and websites. For high value contracts the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) will definitely be used. An array of local, regional or industry specific portals are also likely to be used to target the most appropriate suppliers. This is the first stage at which you, as a supplier, will be involved in the process. It is rare that a buyer will contact you directly so the onus is on you to be searching the right places at the right time.
As part of a normal tendering process, you will usually be asked to complete a pre-qualification questionnaire if you express and interest in being a supplier. This will be used to eliminate you from the process if you do not meet a number of very specific criteria on finances, company structure, policies and other non-contract orientated information.
4. Invitation to Tender
If you successfully pass the PQQ stage then you will be invited to submit an offer to the buyer. This is the tender itself and you should respond if you are planning to continue with the process.
The buyer, following the deadline for tenders to be submitted, will then evaluate all submissions to find the bid that fits all criteria, including most economically advantageous tender. Sometimes this can include negotiations with bidders to get a better price or better service or product or clarifying aspects of the tender submissions with bidders.
6. Contract Award
The final stage of the bidding process is the award of the contract to a tenderer. The winning bidder will be notified, notification will be posted publicly and the losing bidders may at this stage request feedback on their bids.