Taking tenders online

I’ve spent the morning in a training session. Haven’t done had a day like this for some time, and it’s refreshing to be able to focus upon only one technology for a short period, rather than many!

Tendering for supplies or services has always been a labour intensive and administratively demanding process – in my experience, at least. Although in The IT team we don’t conduct large tenders on a regular basis, to be able to move to an electronic system that provides the workflow, security and audit trail is a godsend.

We’ve taken a subscription to the In-Tend e-tendering application. It’s a browser based tool, hosted centrally by the product suppliers and, for the tendering process, administered by the subscriber. I’m really picky when it comes to applications with specific purpose. They have to be just right for me to really make best use of them. Whilst the In-Tend product isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing, often awash with many different browser pop-up windows, it does it’s job very well. Unusually, I was quickly convinced of it’s suitability when we had our first demonstration with some colleagues!

We’ve already conducted a couple of tenders (yes, use it first, training later!) with reasonable success, and sitting in the classroom today it’s clear where we slipped up. One thing we did learn for the process is that our specification for new equipment, and the assessment process we then apply to bids, needs more consideration. We’ve already given a whole lot more thought to our specifications, moving to EU compliant terms, and will be revisiting this again in the near future. In addition to this, our assessment criteria will continue to evolve. We have found – largely through experience – that many brands suit our needs perfectly. However, reviewing the reasons for our satisfaction is a worthwhile exercise. We have already realised that complacency in regard to those products and services we employ is something we must not allow to dominate our approach to procurement and purchasing decisions.