How well do suppliers receive your RFPs?

What does it feel like to be a bidder or tenderer responding to your Requests for Proposal (RFP) or Requests for Quote? Trained and experienced Procurement professionals labour under the common misapprehension that their RFPs or similar tender documents are perfectly constructed, fully understandable, complete and with no errors. Sadly, this is not always the case. Just speak with your key suppliers and those responding to your requests.

However, the quality of tender documents supplied to the market is improving, owed in part to the world-class training and coaching that is publicly available to the Procurement fraternity. A new trend can be seen in large organisations where they are actively welcoming feedback on the quality and content of their documents with the intention of improving the responses. Some of the global companies in the banking and pharmaceutical areas as well as one or two government bodies are leading the way in providing better tenders.

As this improvement is happening in procurement, it is gratifying to see that it is happening on the other side of the fence. Don’t you sometimes wonder who is (is it effortlessly?) putting together the submission for you – complete, with no frills and on-time? You have a vested interest in uplifting the quality of the responses you get.

Proposals are mostly written at high-speed, under intense time pressure, while ensuring all aspects of the response are in agreement with the mandatory RFP guidelines. “Unfortunately in South Africa, most proposals are still written at the last minute with some vague idea that copy and paste by the company PA will be enough,” said Accenture Bid Centre Manager, Debbie Colhoun. As a result, the quality of the document you receive may be less than perfect.

Successful bid practices will be under the spotlight at a forum to be held in Johannesburg in February where recent real-life experiences in responding to tenders will be discussed. ‘Guerillas in the Midst – and other bid management war stories’ will be presented by Bill Graham, a seasoned ICT industry bid specialist and registered professional engineer who will provide practical advice and recommendations.

The forum will be hosted by the Association of Proposal Management Professionals in South Africa (APMP), which has recently been formed with the aim of providing a platform for anyone involved in improving proposal quality. APMP aims to influence and assist government tender board bodies and companies in setting guidelines and standards around the tender process. Those who have similar ambitions and desires are welcome to join us at their regular forums and seminars. Contact or for more information.

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