Earlier this week, I had the joy of being the person to inform my client that they were the winning bidders for a contract they really, really wanted. Usually it’s my clients telling me the result but, in this case, they’d asked me to find out on their behalf. My nerves were shredded as I opened the message portal.
They scored an overall 95% for their bid and it sounds like they were streets ahead of their competition.
It’s fair to say I’m as invested in the outcome as my clients are, especially when I know what a particular contract means for an individual client, so there were damp eyes all round. It was a pretty good start to October, all in all.
If you win, why bother with feedback?
We already know that they scored 60/60 on cost so that mystery 5% can only be from the questionnaire. And it’s really bugging me.
I’ve asked the client to request feedback on the scores from the contracting authority and I’m hopeful they’ll get a swift response. In an ideal world, I’d like to know both what the individual scores for each question or section were for our bid and how that contrasts with the other bidders. What we will get rather depends on the specific rules for the type of tender it is and, to some extent, the whims of the contracting authority.
95% is pretty good. So why bother indeed? Well, partly because I’d like to know just how far ahead of the other bidders we actually were, so I can find out how competitive the competition really is.
Mostly because I’d like to know exactly where we missed an opportunity, so that we can fix that for the next tender we go for. At this point, it could be anything. Maybe the H&S policy needs a bit of work, maybe we weren’t clear on one point of communication, maybe the staff training matrix wasn’t detailed enough. We don’t know.
Two key reasons to ask
Firstly, all contracts come to an end at some point. When that happens and this contract is tendered again, we want to win it. Again.
The existing competition might, by that time, have worked hard on bringing their own systems, processes and policies up to scratch. The gap between us and them might be much smaller next time. There may also be new competition; an unknown quantity who didn’t tender last time but might when it comes up for re-tendering.
Secondly, no two tenders are the same. In ‘What do points make? Confusion mostly’, I talk about how and why contracting authorities score and weight their tenders as they do. Another tender, for another authority, might be scored with different values in mind.
And if they place a higher value on that one thing we fell short on, that seemingly negligible 5% on this tender might actually be 10%, 15%, 20% or more on a different one.
The bottom line
It’s never a bad idea to ask for feedback. Even the most minimal information can be useful in the future.
A contracting authority might be surprised by a feedback request if you win but they won’t hold it against you if your aim is to keep on improving.
I’ve had a fair few 100% scores in my time and you know what? Once I’ve finished my victory lap around the office, I ask for feedback on them too.
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