Under-appreciated Things That Winning Bidders Do: Follow Instructions
I may have a more unique perspective than many Procurement Agents. For many years, I worked in support for a financial software firm, so when Sales would receive an RFP for my products (AP & PO), they would forward them for the Support Analysts to complete. From that experience, I know just how frustrating some of them can be. Many times, it felt as though the solicitations were asking the same thing in ten different ways. Maybe they were. Now that I am on the ‘other side of the fence,’ I sometimes feel that I am asking for the same thing in different ways. Now I have a better understanding of why.
When doing a city-wide solicitation for some types of goods, I am constantly amazed by the varied reasons for the different departments’ needs and how they plan to use the goods. Our goal as Procurement is to make sure the purchases we make align with the needs of those requesting it. That leads to what I think is the “Most Under-appreciated Thing Winning Suppliers do” and that is to FOLLOW DIRECTIONS.
Following the directions of the solicitation benefits all involved.
Suppliers can use the specification as an outline and respond specifically to what is being asked.
- Using the solicitation as a checklist helps to ensure the supplier has included everything that was requested.
- Marketing material can be included (unless specifically noted), but it should be separate from the specification response. That allows the evaluators to easily assess whether or not the specification was addressed and if it meets the need. There is a much greater chance that frustrations run higher and information could be missed when the evaluators have to sift through large amounts of data.
- Administrative reviews are easier to conduct.
- Administrative reviews typically happen BEFORE responses go to the evaluation team. These reviews determine whether or not the supplier is Responsive (i.e., did they supply required information and attachments). Organizing your response in the order requested helps key elements to be easily found and, in general, the administrative review go smoothly so the response can be forwarded for evaluation.
- Evaluators typically use either the complete or a shortened version of the specifications as the basis for the grading template.
- Short and direct responses make the evaluation less subjective.
So, while some solicitations may seem to have redundant questions and specifications, there is usually a reason. Suppliers that follow directions with their responses typically receive a more complete and accurate evaluation.
Cindy Fay has 12 years’ experience in public procurement with the City of Griffin, Georgia, and currently serves as the Procurement Manager. Prior to joining the City, she worked as an Application Analyst/Project Leader for the AP and PO products with a financial software company for 14 years. Cindy has been an active member of GPAG (Governmental Procurement Association of Georgia) since 2010, has served on multiple committees and as well as Chair of the Legislative Committee. She holds degrees in Accounting and Information Technology, has earned the CPPB certification from NIGP and the GCPM (Georgia Certified Procurement Manager) from Georgia’s DOAS. Cindy was named GPAG’s Buyer of the Year award in 2017 and Vendor Registry’s very first Purchaser of the Month in June 2017.