Advice to Procurement Professionals: Consider the Order of Questions

Bidders are highly motivated to do well: to submit, on time, a compliant proposal that will score well and offer the lowest price they can. So why don’t they do better? A major reason is the complexity of bid documents.  Simpler documents will lead to fewer questions during the process, and to better responses at the end of the process, where “better” means closer to the requirement, easier to evaluate, and more competitively priced. Herewith, one practical suggestion for keeping it simple.

Think about the critical-path order of all questions: What do you need to know first?  The organization example given here arises again and again, causing an entirely preventable problem: The order of the questions doesn’t help evaluators understand the answers.

Ask about the Organization First

The gold standard in RFP responses is to say who will do something, where that “who” is a position, not just the bidder’s company. It shows that the bidder has thought through how they’re going to provide the services you need.

So what?  Bid documents often ask about ten other things before they ask about the proposed/promised organization, so that bidders have to decide whether to repeat the organization content at the outset.

So what?  Putting information where it hasn’t been asked for is bad for three reasons:

  • It’s out of order: That can annoy evaluators who just want to see what they asked for, where they asked for it.
  • It’s repetitive: That can lead to inconsistency when the organization changes, as it surely will during proposal development.
  • It eats space: That causes problems with page-limited proposals.

Eliminate these problems by putting the organization question first: in the response and in every applicable section.



 

This post is based on an article I wrote for the National Institute of Government Purchasing, Canada West Chapter.

 

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