A few months ago my colleague Cindy published a blog on the Pet Hates of Buyers which went through some of the main issues that buyers have had when dealing with suppliers. This blog will consider the other side of the coin and cover some of the pet hates that suppliers have when bidding for tenders.

Through my experience working in the Tenders Direct support team I have put together this blog from feedback that we have received from our customers and other external companies that are involved in public sector tendering.

The issues can be broken down into two main areas. Firstly all issues relating to the tendering process (planning, identifying the needs, market analysis and tendering) and secondly all issues that relate to the post tender activities (contract management, supplier relationship management and the actual performance of the contract).

Issues with tendering process:

  • Unrealistic KPIs – if the requirement doesn’t seem feasible to the suppliers then this could discourage potential bidders.
  • Discontinuing a tender just before the deadline. A number of suppliers have said this is a big issue for them. They could have spent days or weeks writing a tender response only to get informed that the authority has discontinued the tendering process. They feel the time wasted could have stopped them from potentially winning other tenders.
  • Changing scope/Scope creep – this relates to the specifications that have already been agreed between the supplier and buyer. A repeated and gradual change in specifications or scope can be classed as Scope creep. This could put undue pressure on a supplier and could result in costs that were not originally budgeted.

The majority of these issues relate to the planning stage of the procurement cycle. Buyers should ensure that they are consulting all stakeholders within the organisation and make sure that they have good knowledge of what they need to procure, how many suppliers can provide this item and develop detailed documentation that makes it clear exactly what they need and has achievable KPIs based around the specification and needs of the organisation.

Issues with post tender activities

  • Setting up a framework agreement and not making any calls off from it. This is a major pet hate as it wastes a lot of time for everyone particularly the supplier and causes a lot of frustration as even if a supplier is ranked first there is no guarantee of work.
  • Communication is one problem that a large number of suppliers bring up. This can be due to too much communication (too many meetings, long email chains etc) or too little (no point of contact to speak to, very little contact except from placing an order). This can create issues of increased workload due to excessive communication or issues with supplier management if the supplier is unable to speak to someone or have a point of contact to call on if they are having problems or need to inform the buyer.
  • Following on from this, micromanagement is another issue, this is when the buyer attempts to get involved in all aspects related to the supplier in relation to the tender. This can cause unnecessary delays and frustration if this is seen to be getting in the way of the supplier meeting the specifications and KPI’s.
  • Scope creep – which means uncontrolled growth in the project scope that is not documented and in some cases not charged as an extra. During the contract the buyer will ask for the same product as agreed but with some extra aspects added to it.
  • Expediting unachievable deliveries – If the buyer has agreed a set delivery schedule and then during the contract puts in an order that is a lot sooner than expected it can put enormous pressure on a supplier
  • Negotiation techniques – If post tender negotiation takes place suppliers have found that it is autocratic and that the buyer always has the power. The idea behind this is to be more collaborative to achieve the aims of the tender, however, this does not normally happen and suppliers feel that it is a one way negotiation where they are being dictated to over what is required.

All companies seem to have some form of communication issues and the public sector is not immune to this. The majority of the issues above relate to communication and the best way that buyers can avoid this is to have direct contact(s) for the supplier to get in touch with, to ensure that the supplier knows exactly what is expected of them and who they need to contact at the organisation.

As a buyer how many of these supplier pet hates would you honestly say you are guilty of ? Do you feel that you need support to help enhance your procurement processes and make them more successful?

Millstream Associates offer Training and Consultancy services to both buyers and suppliers and can run an in house training course for buyers to provide an overview of the entire procurement process and cover the changes in relation to the new public contract regulations. For more information on the Training and Consultancy services we offer, visit www.millstreamlearning.eu or contact us on 0844 561 0675 or email training@millstream.eu.

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