What it takes to win Technology Tenders in Kenya.
I recently had the opportunity to sit on a tender selection committee for an organization where I am involved at the board level. This is an organization that has an outstanding operational model and works in a professional manner. Therefore, it was an exciting opportunity to be involved in the selection process from the start to the end.
It was an eye opener being on the opposite side of the table for a change – selecting from a range of bidders rather than being a bidder for a change. The tender in question was for a range of technology services from the marketplace. We had a good number of bidders comprised of companies that ranged from the one man show variety to the very large multi-million shilling enterprise – it ran the whole gamut.
So, here is the thing, when looking at all the tenders submitted and spending a good number of hours drilling down to the short-list and seeing their presentations, it occured to me that there are several steps that can either make you win or lose a lucrative technology tender bid.
Contrary to popular belief, tender selection processes are more often than not completely transparent and impartial. Its a shame how many good firms lose out by not following tender bidding procedure when they stand to make millions of shillings, and possibly, permanently transform their business prospects.
In nutshell, these are the 5 steps I see as being critical to winning lucrative technology tenders in Kenya, from my perspective:
- Compliance to bidding requirements – These are the basics. There are typically explicitly stated requirements for a tender before even a technical or financial proposals are reviewed. This can be as simple as labelling your envelopes correctly as per instructions to ensuring that you have a tax compliance certificate in your bid as well as a bid bond. If you do NOT have these compliance items in your bid you are immediately disqualified meaning that your proposal is not even reviewed – its as simple as that. You don’t even get to the party, let alone have a chance to dance.
- Responsiveness to the terms of reference – In this scenario, assuming you have passed the basic bidding requirements, the next step is to elaborate on the proposed technology solution. More often than not, the responsiveness to the terms of reference needs to be as detailed and as accurate as possible. A one line sentence describing how the security of an online system would be guaranteed safe simply will not cut it. The devil really is in the detail. At the end of the day, when all the numbers are tallied, the total will be based on these factors and will determine whether or not you win the bid for your firm.
- Team credentials and case studies – Another major factor to winning technology tenders is the quality and size of the team that will execute the project should it be awarded. The depth in terms of years of experience as well as qualified credentials for similarly scoped work will tip the balance. For this reason, more often than not, larger technology firms simply tend to win all the work because they have the best teams who have the “been there and done that” background with case studies. Most organizations are unlikely to give an unproven firm a technology assignment if they are not satisfied with the team credentials and work record.
- Financial proposals – Assuming that your firm makes it through the technical proposal evaluation process, and meets the minimum score to qualify, the next step of the tender proposal is to review the financial proposals. This process can be tricky since there can be massive disparities in pricing. Its not uncommon for smaller firms to overprice their offerings whereas larger firms can tend to bid much lower. Whatever the case, the tender will be won by the firm that has a combination of the highest technical score as well as the most competitive financial proposal for the assignment.
- Final presentations – If you firm makes the cut through the financial part of evaluation and has a good combined score with the technical proposal, it is possible you will be called in for a final presentation to the tender committee. This is the last step and a specific agenda for the presentations will normally be communicated to bidders. In this respect, this is where even the largest and most successful firms can stumble. It is vital that your presentation is as comprehensive as it is compelling. It must cover all the bases and essentially “close” the business.