Observe parity of tendering

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One of the most difficult aspects in tendering is making sure that the offers put forward are compatible and are based upon the same information.

A tendering process is aimed at achieving fair competition. As a general matter of good practice, competitors must know the rules of the game.

All tenderers should be made aware of the variables that they shall be evaluated against. The criteria that shall be used need to be clear to all prospective tenderers and must be elaborated in the tender document. Any changes that are made to the evaluation process must be communicated to all tenderers who have expressed interest in participating in the tender to ensure parity of tendering.

Apart from deciding on the technical evaluation criteria of the tender, other variable commercial variables such as expected delivery time, shipping terms, and payment terms need to be detailed in the tender document.

The task of evaluating tenders is meant to select the bid or tender that will give the best value for money at the best overall cost. This requires a balance of cost, quality, delivery, performance and risk.

The necessary criteria used in making such a decision will include technical compliance which relates to product compliance to stated specifications and the tender compliance that relates to the capacity and capability of bidders. Bidders’ capacity relates to their ability to perform in the contract and is mainly measured by the financial strength of the organisation. Capability relates to the competence of the bidder and may relate to availability of after sales services.
We are now operating in a global village exposing buyers to all sorts of languages. It is also important to state the language that shall be used in the tender.

However, if this is not desirable, buying organisations must take into consideration the cost of translation in the event that a foreign bid is in another language. This cost is significant if the tender document that needs translation is very long. It is also important to note that translation can also affect time scales and should be considered at the preparation stage of the tender document.

Technical specifications must be neutral. There is need to eliminate any small print which might qualify a tender in that the product being offered is different from that of other tenderers.

A neutral specification excludes brand names. With the exception of spare parts, specifications must state the acceptable dimensions. The upper and lower limit must be defined if a specification to allow for fair competition in tendering.

Parity of tendering is mainly compromised when tenderers seek clarifications or query tender documents. Tendering requires confidentiality to the extent that other tenderers are not supposed to know the source of the request for clarification. As a general rule, clarifications to tenders are communicated to all tenderers without disclosing the source of the enquiry.

The information sent to tenderers must be the same. If bidders base their tenders on different levels of information, then the lowest tender may arise as a result of a mistake and under-allowance of costs in construction projects.

Tenders must be on the same basis for two reasons, to assist in the selection of the contractor or supplier who best meets the tender requirements and, to ensure that the client accepts the best value offer. It is therefore critical that parity in tendering is observed.