European Tendering can be learned: find your way during the tendering process

By Cleo van Engelen

Top 5 lessons learned

All the preparations have been made, everyone knows what is expected of them: the contracting authority is ready. But unfortunately, the reality is that not every process goes exactly as planned. A tender can fail for a variety of reasons. In my previous blog, I discussed the top 5 lessons learned for European Tendering during the preparation of a tender. This second blog focuses on the top 5 lessons learned during the tendering process.

Top 5 lessons learned

1. Strike a balance between trust and certainty

By setting more requirements for a supplier or product, you attempt to enforce more certainty, while setting fewer requirements places trust in the delivery of a good product or service with the supplier. Going to one extreme or the other can result in an ill-fitting solution. Therefore, an active search for a balance between trust and certainty is necessary. Give a supplier the space to come up with a suitable solution, but clearly state what you want to receive at a minimum. Make sure this balance is explicitly reflected in the discussions to arrive at a Schedule of Requirements. And how do you find that balance? Market knowledge!

2. Quality costs money

During a tender, it's tempting to pressure providers to offer the lowest possible price. Of course, a tender is also meant to avoid paying more than necessary, but sometimes the awareness that quality costs money is lacking. Try to approach the market fairly, but also allow the market to do its job. And how do you find that balance? Market knowledge!

3. Distribute responsibilities

Many people are involved in the process of a tender. All of these participants add value to the process and have specific roles. However, having multiple captains on one ship does not work. During the process, create a clear division of responsibilities. Consider distinctions like:

  • Execution
  • Involvement
  • Responsibility
  • Approval

4. Pay attention to transitions

During a tender, you should already be thinking about the phases that follow. Once you have completed a tender, you need to transition from an existing situation to a new one. Even at the end of the process, a (re)transition from the upcoming supplier to the subsequent supplier is needed. Both of these transitions require a lot of attention now. Ensure that the person responsible for the first transition is involved as early as possible in the tendering process so they can participate in deciding the right requirements and wishes for that transition. Above all, ensure that the second (re)transition is well-established so that the supplier cooperates optimally with the next transition and that all important assets are secured.

5. The devil is in the details

Don't get too distracted by all the details that come up during a tender. Of course, you should think carefully about all the details, but during the process, it can help to have someone responsible for the process who can "keep the big picture" in mind. Making a distinction between main and minor issues is important here, as is delegating authority to make decisions about all major issues and details.

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