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Following the Buyer’s Rules

Jack Bolton
Written by
Jack Bolton
Follow the Rules

As many will know by now, our mantra here at Bespoke is READ THE DOCUMENTS. If you want to know what the tender is about, what the questions are, whether you can actually bid or not, what the buyer wants, then this is what you must do. The same applies to the rules for the tender exercise.

Generally speaking, most buyers have similar sets of rules on things like:

  • The deadline for submission
  • How to submit the tender
  • What documents to include
  • Forms to sign
  • How suppliers may ask questions
  • How to complete any pricing documents

When you first read the documents these are some of the first things you should pay attention to. Disqualification often comes from ignoring or not properly reading fairly straightforward instructions.

You could also find yourself too late in the day to remedy a rule or instruction you have inadvertently ignored. The last thing you need is to realise you didn’t understand an instruction or worse, can’t actually comply with rules as they’re written.

You may find yourself being unable to submit a compliant tender or having to guess requirements because it is too late to ask a question.

But I’ve read the rules and I don’t understand some of them. What do I do now?

We have all probably sat scratching our heads at some point about tender instructions which are incomprehensible or just plain bizarre:

  • Instructions on fonts, margin sizes, line spacings that mean page limits cannot be kept to.
  • Return envelopes that are nowhere near big enough for the documents that are required.
  • Requirements for wet signatures on electronic submissions.
  • Duplicate questions which must both be completed.
  • Instructions that contradict each other.
Ask questions if you don’t understand the rules.

If you don’t understand the rules, ask questions to get some clarification on what the buyer wants.

Procurement teams make mistakes, they are not perfect. If you ask a question, they may admit they have made an error and will correct this. Make sure to ask any questions of this nature before the clarifications deadline.

What if they don’t answer or don’t clarify the point?

Then if it is possible, make reference to their lack of an answer in your response. If this is not possible, for whatever reason, make sure that if your tender is rejected you pay close attention to the reasons why. If any of the reasons are connected with their not answering a clarification, then you need to draw their attention to this within the 10-day standstill period.

Writing to ask for feedback and express concerns in this way, can be enough to challenge their decision and stimulate a change of heart. This is far easier and cheaper than going down the formal challenge route.

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