The competitive tender process is exactly like a funnel. To win, you must complete each stage
Expression of Interest
All tenderers start off by making an Expression of Interest. This effectively means that they have “tossed their hat” into the ring for consideration to be included in the tender process.
Unless there is an overriding reason not too, usually most businesses who have expressed interest in the tender are invited to complete a Pre-qualification Questionnaire, or PQQ. The aim of this part of the exercise is to narrow the field down to all those companies with the credentials to undertake the contract. This stage can be pretty demanding on tendering businesses, but it is not necessarily competitive. There will be some sort of indication in the tender documents as to whether it is or not. The two possible scenarios are:
- Getting through is a yes / no decision. All tendering companies meeting the criteria get through.
- Only the top scoring companies are invited through to the next stage.
Invitation to Tender
The Invitation to tender (or ITT) is then issued to the companies who successfully passed the PQQ stage. This is when it gets really competitive! The company (or companies) with the highest score will go through to the next stage. Scoring is based on a combination of price and quality of bid.
The top scoring companies at the ITT stage may be invited to present. Alternatively a preferred supplier may have been selected following the ITT stage, and they may be invited to present. If a number of companies are invited to present it will, again, be extremely competitive. The presentation and, importantly, questions and answers, will be marked.
The preferred supplier is likely to be expected to enter into negotiation. This is a risky part of the process. The euphoria of having got through this far may cause lack of judgement, and expensive concessions may be made.
Finally, and with last man standing, an award will be made – and there will be a competition winner!