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Tips to strengthen your infrastructure procurement bid

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The procurement process is no walk in the park.



The mad dash from the time an RFP, RFQ, or Tender is posted, until submission and bidding can mean long days—and sometimes long nights. It also requires incredible attention to detail, and most importantly, putting your best foot forward in order to win contracts.



Every contract has its own unique conditions and requirements, and as such there is no standard set of rules to follow for each one. But there are some strategies you can take to make sure your bids are as strong as they can be before submitting them.



We’ve spoken to a few procurement experts about things to look out for, so check them out in the list below. But first, let’s go over the differences between public and private procurement.



Public versus Private procurement



The end goal of both private and public procurement is to receive the goods and services needed. However, both industry sectors are responding to different external or internal pressures.



Public, or government tenders, have a responsibility to tax payers—which includes vendors submitting bids—when going through the bidding process. After posting a public tender, any vendor may submit a bid, meaning there are equal opportunities for vendors. The bids are then read out at a public meeting as transparency is integral to the public procurement process.



Generally speaking, because of the responsibilities towards taxpayers, as long as each bid has followed the tender’s instructions exactly, they won’t be disqualified. After any bids are disqualified, the lowest bid that meets all of the requirements is chosen.



Private organizations might be focused more on revenue and good relationships with their vendors, and therefore might not necessarily go with the lowest bid. Upon review of all bids, it gives them the discretion to decide which company will most likely do the best work for them, and not just offer the contract based on the lowest price. There can be considerations that are much more important than price, such as speed of delivery, quality of the final product and service provided during and after the process. Unfortunately, due to the competitive nature of private organizations, many do not disclose their procurement and bid selection process.



Private companies may also only choose to invite vendors that they have worked with before, or award contracts without a bidding process at all. They are not dealing with taxpayer money, and therefore have no obligation to provide equal opportunities for vendors. While this process may not seem fair to some, it does allow owners or consulting firms to avoid dealing with contractors or suppliers with whom they have had a negative experience in the past.



Things to remember



 We’ve spoken with some experts from the City of Toronto’s Purchasing & Materials Management office on things they run into all the time with the bids they look at. As we mentioned above, each tender will be very specific to the project itself, but the list below can apply to any tender, across the board.



  • Follow the standard terms and conditions of a tender to ensure that you fulfill all of the requirements before submitting your bid. If you don’t have the correct certifications or required experience, your bid will be immediately disqualified.
  • This also means ensuring that nothing is left blank in your bid. You won’t be allowed to insert any information after your bid has been submitted. This is considered bid repairment which will lead to disqualification.
  • If you have questions, ask the buyer. There will be a specific contact for each Tender. For public bids, make sure to only speak to those you’ve been told to contact. Too much conversation with project managers or consultations could be seen as trying to influence a bid and therefore lead to disqualification.
  • Keep a good reputation. This should go without saying, but following the rules will go a long way in the procurement process.
  • Make sure to submit your bid on time. Anything submitted after the time and date won’t be considered.



Resources



There are a number of organizations available to ensure that each procurement process is done fairly, and that each bid put forward is as strong as possible. Check out your local construction associations for help, as well as the nationwide associations below.



The Canadian Construction Association



Associated General Contractors of America



Council of Ontario Construction Associations