Debriefing unsuccessful potential providers is regarded as good procurement practice in a tendering process. So, if you’re in the position of having your tender marked as unsuccessful here’s what you need to do.
Using tender feedback correctly
Receiving a rejection to your tender proposal is never welcome news, but it’s important to make the most of the hard work you’ve invested by asking for feedback from the contracting authority. One of the main advantages of getting feedback is that it offers you the opportunity to learn from the exercise and, assuming your bid was compliant, understand your strengths and weaknesses, which can be put to good use when writing your next proposal.
The level of feedback provided by public sector commissioning authorities can vary significantly. Some will offer a face to face debrief with the aim of providing honest feedback, highlighting particular areas that contributed to the overall decision. Others might provide you with a few generic bullet points, or even no feedback. In this case it is worth making a request for further information – remember that where an opportunity has been advertised in the OJEU, the regulations stipulate that feedback must be given to the unsuccessful bidder within 15 days of a written request being received.
What is it worth asking for? The information you might want to ask for includes:
- Who won the contract? You will then know who your competitors are and can research the types of firms you’re up against. For example was it a local provider, a multi-national, a well-established company or a start-up? This information can help inform long-term strategic plans, such as whether it’s an area you want to be bidding into or whether it is outside your core business
- How many bids were received for the contract and where did your bid rank? This will give you an idea of the level of competition and your relative position amongst them
- What was the winning score and what was your score? Drilling down into the detail enables you to understand how competitive your submission was and to identify the areas you need to work on most.
For tender feedback to be really useful, it is worth considering the following areas and requesting the information if it hasn’t been provided:
- A breakdown of your tender submission scores against the evaluation criteria
- Were there any criteria where you didn’t meet the minimum standard required?
- Did the submission satisfy the evaluators that you could meet the requirements and had the ability to deliver the contract?
- Were there any particular strengths that stood out amongst the other bidders, and most importantly, the winning bid?
- Were there any specific weaknesses that caused concerns and why?
- What areas would you suggest we improve our approach on?
Sharing feedback for the next tender submission
Equipped with the information, you should have a clearer understanding of why your tender was unsuccessful and some useful insights into where improvements can be made. To make the most out of the unsuccessful tender feedback it should be shared internally within your organisation or bid team, to enable issues to be identified and plans developed and implemented to address any shortcomings. If you keep central records or a bid library for your tender submissions, it is worth collating any feedback here too, as even if your submission was unsuccessful, some areas may have scored well or received positive feedback that is valuable to refer to in future.
Hopefully the reward of the exercise is a stronger and more compelling bid next time you approach the procurement process.