Groucho Does Tenders

Friday, August 10th, 2012

I’m not a vegetarian, but I eat animals who are – a classic quip from Groucho Marx but do you ever notice companies trying to bid for your work claiming principles or behaviours that they do not demonstrate.

Many PQQs (Pre-Qualification Questionnaires) seek binary answers to questions. E.g.

Has your organisation, its Directors or Principals ever been convicted of Fraud? Yes or No.

Do you have an Environmental Policy? Yes or No.

It is usually clear what the right answer should be. However how many of these which are completed in correctly and misrepresented, are ever found out?

Unless you undertake a little due diligence you may never know.

Pre-Qualification Questionnaires and Tender documents will often ask questions of the bidders about  their policies, methodologies and approach to certain topics. These may include Health & Safety, Quality, Diversity, Equality, Environment and Sustainability to name but a few.

These questions are designed to gain a better understanding of the bidding company and differentiate the potential vendors on a qualitative basis.  This can provide some interesting reading. Imagine for a moment you had to answer the following question.

“Please detail, in no more than 2000 words, your approach to Health and Safety Management”

You would be considering how you can within the word limit convince the evaluator of your excellence in this area by reference to your internal processes your H&S awareness campaigns and briefings H&S structure, responsibilities and methodologies and examples of risk assessments. You may include the CVs of the relevant personnel and copies of OHSAS 18001 accreditation or other external verifications. Your objective would be to gain maximum marks.

Consider this reply

“We think Health and Safety is very important”.

This is a real example we have seen. Clearly the organisation was clueless as to what was required. An answer like that will score 0. These kinds of answers are easy to deal with. The more sophisticated ones take a little more thought.  More so about what is not said than the written response.

Take for example this sentence in response to a question on Quality Management

“We are proud of the fact that we are accredited to ISO 9001:2008, and a copy of the current certificate is enclosed

The ISO 9001:2008 is relevant and is the current standard. However, I have seen this boast only to look a little deeper and discover the wider picture.  In  requesting further details including the full scope of the accreditation to find the service they were bidding for was not included in the scope of the certification and  neither was the location covered.

Was this intended to mislead? I leave that for you to judge.

Some organisations will tell you what you want to hear or as Groucho Marx would put it.

Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them, I have others!

If this makes you think that Groucho does tenders and you need  help to combat that when compiling questions for PQQ and Tender documents, or need help with responding to them but  are overwhelmed. Please give us a call on 01744 20698 or email me at r.gambell@brianfarrington.com