Tender bids and proposals
One of the most common defects in tender bids and proposals is claims and assertions of competence and excellence, which are entirely devoid of supporting evidence and far from the truth. Skill with smoke and mirrors too often helps to win contracts just as it too often wins in politics. Both times, it leads to disaster for many.
The multibillion-dollar leaky homes crisis and the tragic failures at the London high-rise are examples of failed contracts. The contract winners who can even be public companies would have used smoke and mirrors in their bid documents when their integrity was merely a fiction.
Every day in the media, we read of technical designs with promises like “warmth, health, comfort, quality and significant cost savings”. These designs can even win “independently verified” awards when in reality they are only hollow claims yet to be proved.
In New Zealand, there is no mandatory requirement for professional technical specifications that would enable design, installation, inspection and maintenance to meet Code requirements. When anyone involved with a contract has to guess, you can expect, sooner or later, major if not tragic failure.
Many invented claims
I’m always dismayed to read tender bids and proposals with one let alone many invented claims. Yet it seems that many bid evaluators hear no alarm bells. Maybe they like reading fiction.
Two issues arise. First, managers should spend effort and expense on ridding bid documents of every bare assertion whether cunningly worded or not. Bid checkers and reviewers should deal very firmly with this.
Second, every bidder’s Competitive Strategy process should note where competitors might use smoke and mirrors to prop up weak products and services, and draw evaluators’ attention very clearly to the pitfalls that lurk.
Bottom line: Tragedies are caused by the awarding of contracts to clever illusionists who are no better than shysters. Good firms should stand out from the crowd in their tender bids and proposals by pointing out the fiction, smoke and mirrors so that bid evaluators can easily spot and exclude the culprits.
(c) This Opinion by Tom Evison was first published by Tecads in July 2017