The digital transformation towards electronic tendering
As technology continues to evolve, e-tendering processes now dominate the procurement industry. With this move to online processes, the question is no longer “is e-tendering right for my company?”. Suppliers must now adapt to the digital transformation of procurement.
Software solutions are now no longer exclusive to larger, more resourceful companies. Small to Medium Enterprises are now able to access these electronic procurement solutions and reap its benefits. This transformation typically aims towards goals such as cost savings, greater efficiency, and improved strategic and competitive decision-making.
Like all digital transformations, electronic tendering also has its share of advantages and disadvantages. Despite its cons, it is rapidly taking over paper-based solutions. It is important for suppliers to not only understand the benefits this yields, but how to successfully navigate them.
The e-tendering platform
There are a number of online portals that are used for submitting your tender online. These portals provide a secure online platform that improve the speed and efficiency of submissions. Such portals include but are not limited to: ProContract (Proactis), YORtender, DELTA eSourcing, and Oracle iSupplier.
Once you are registered on one of these portals, there are multiple utilities at your disposal. You can:
- Express interest in opportunities
- Complete and submit a pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ)
- Complete and submit a tender proposal
- Access the tender documents, such as the buyer’s specification
- Ask the buyer clarification questions
- Receive notifications of any changes to the tender requirements
- Upload any appendices to support your bid.
What are the key advantages for suppliers?
The electronic tendering process provides a structured approach to submitting bids. While each portal may have different formats, they often abide by a sequential process. For example, when taking you through the tendering process you will often be required to complete parts before moving on. This mitigates the potential for error, such as accidentally missing out important parts of the proposal.
Depending on the tender portal used, there are also the following structural benefits:
Formatted text fields
Not all online portals require you to submit your bid in the form of Word documents. Portals such as ProActis provide text boxes for question responses. This removes the burden of formatting from the supplier, putting all of the focus onto the content. This also means that no bidder can be at an advantage due to unique formatting or design.
Clarifications and post-clarifications
Electronic tendering systems have processes in place to allow both buyers and suppliers to seek clarification from each other. If a requirement in the specification is unclear, the buyer would be able to clarify this in a timely manner. Buyers often get in touch with suppliers for clarifications post-submission. This reduces the chances of the submission quality being marked down automatically due to error. Additionally, all communications are within a clear, legally binding trail.
While the online procurement process can take some time to adjust to, most interfaces are user-friendly. This greatly simplifies the submission and information acquisition process for suppliers. Not only is the paper-based alternative more costly, but it is also more tedious in general. Using this interface, it is also easier to manage documents for submissions and make edits where necessary. This is something that would be far more tedious with the paper-based option!
As touched upon previously, the e-tendering process is usually fool-proofed to reduce error. This is achieved by dividing the proposal up into mandatory sections, requiring you to complete each section. Using an e-tendering portal also means that it is much easier to pick up where you left off. This is typically done with a completion tracker or visual cues indicating which fields still require responses.
8 tips for submitting electronic tenders
Electronic tendering improves access to opportunities with a structured format. However, it is still worth noting these e-tendering tips:
1. Don’t wait too long to submit clarifications
There is typically a deadline for submitting clarifications to the buyer before the official submission deadline. By getting your clarifications resolved early, the sooner you can submit your bid. You should aim to be clear about which part of the tender you are referring to. Taking too long to seek clarifications also means there is less time to make the amendments in question. It would be ideal to get these sooner rather than later.
2. Try not to submit your tender at the last minute
Leaving the submission of your bid to the last minute can run you into problems. If there is something wrong with the portal or the submission, you may not have time to resolve this. It is always good to submit the tender a decent length of time before the deadline. When it comes to the submission, if you do run into problems, it is important to evidence this. This can be done in the form of screenshots relayed to the buyer or portal administrator. It might also be worth submitting different parts of the tender when they are completed – instead of in one go.
3. Don’t forget your login details
While it may be obvious, losing access to your account can cause you to miss looming deadlines. Some electronic tendering systems will put a lock on your account after too many incorrect attempts. If you anticipate going on leave, it would also be worth passing these details over to colleagues. Losing access to your portal account would also mean any opportunities curated need to be found again. Avoid the unnecessary stress by keeping your login details handy!
4. Monitor your system notifications
Online portals will send you system notifications for various reasons. You will receive notifications when clarifications are responded to, or the buyer has relayed an update. You will also receive responses to clarifications made by other bidders for fairness reasons. It is important to keep on top of these so you don’t miss any crucial information. If you miss a notification about amendments to specification criteria, you may then be at risk of rejection.
5. Check grammar before you submit
Consider drafting your responses up in MS Word before pasting them into the text boxes. This yields the advantage of a visible word count, and a spellchecker. This will also ensure you have access to your proposal drafts should a problem occur with the portal. Have a look at our Tender VLE video for information on the editing process and proofreading tips!
6. Be careful of timeouts
Most electronic tendering systems have an automatic timeout system. This logs the user out after a period of inactivity (typically 10-20 minutes). While many portals have an auto-save feature, you should ensure your progress is saved before leaving it for this long.
7. Double-check portal submissions
Before you click that “submit response” button, it is definitely worth checking over your response to ensure accuracy. It may also be worth handing over to another team member to check over with a fresh pair of eyes. This reduces the chances of something being missed or completed incorrectly. Take note of the submission requirements in line with the documents you have attached. If something is out of line with the specified requirements, this can result in automatic rejection.
8. Opt-in to notifications for relevant opportunities
Many online tender portals boast a feature that automatically presents you with opportunities in your industry of choice. This is typically based on inaccurate CPV codes, and it is not always sector-specific. If you’d like more help finding tenders that are right for you, get in touch with the Hudson Discover Team.
Developing technologies in e-tendering
At Hudson Outsourcing, our goal is to help every business we engage with grow. We aim to propagate this by using innovative procurement technologies and smarter methods of working.
Currently in development is our Procure Smart software. This is a prospective technology and compliance solution that uses Artificial Intelligence to bolster procurement efficiency. Procure Smart will use this AI to not only improve the procurement process, but keep in adherence with regulations. The end-goal is to equalise the procurement process and make it more accessible for both suppliers and commissioners.
Need help with electronic tendering?
Many of the mentioned tender portals can be difficult to understand at first. It can take some time to get used navigating them comfortably without detrimental mistakes.
For help and support with the electronic tendering process and writing persuasive bids, contact our Bid Writers at Hudson Succeed.
We have over 60 years of bid writing experience and an 87% success rate. Whether you’re completely new to tendering or aren’t seeing results – they can help. There are four bid writing packages available:
Once you’ve found a tender you’d like to go for, send it over to us. One of our Bid Writers will write the tender response for you. They’ll provide a full Tender Writing breakdown and even submit it on your behalf.
Tender Mentor can give your tender response a once over before you submit. The Bid Writing Team will analyse your response, notifying you of any errors and opportunities for improvements prior to submission.
During the Tender Ready service, our team will create professional policies, procedures, and case studies in your company branding. If you already have this content, we will review everything carefully to ensure that nothing is missed. This service also helps businesses who are new to tendering with terminology and industry knowledge.
The Tender Improvement package can help those who have tendered before but aren’t seeing results. Our Bid Writers will assess your previous responses and work with you to develop improved content.
Get in touch to find out how we can help your business grow.