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A trail of missed faults

Tendering management

It’s well known that tendering management is a dicey business due to so many variables and unknowns. The main variable as I see it is the trail of missed faults which are chances to get things right.

Consider this true story from years ago but still very relevant today. A contract engineering firm well-known throughout the country upset an important client due to a trail of failures and omissions. It started with a top draughtsman failing to ensure his work was checked for errors. 

The drawing office boss made copies of the drawing and gave them to a clerk to be pasted on to cardboard.  Another clerk took the mounted drawings to the tool stores. The stores boss filed them and later issued one to a foreman whose top machinist duly worked overtime turning a heavy bar of titanium steel. Along came an inspector who found an error in the job. That meant it had to be scrapped and another heavy bar of titanium alloy flown out at great expense from England. 

Seven people failed to get things right

No fewer than seven people had failed to note and report the fault that the drawing had no signature in the “Checked by” box. Under the current management regime that wasn’t their job. Every contract ran late. Many made a loss. Getting things right was not a priority. It surprised few when the business failed.

Tender proposal bid documents and the RFTs ahead of them often contain variables and unknowns caused by a trail of errors and omissions that no-one is detailed by tendering management to spot, correct and ensure that they never happen again. The bigger the firm, the bigger the trail of faults. If I were a cynic I would say that getting things right would take the fun out of it all.

Bottom line: Any error, weakness or omission in tendering points to feeble management whose key performance indicators don’t include getting things right. Maybe these managers are having fun following a different trail.

(c) This Opinion by Tom Evison was first published by Tecads in May 2019

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