May 092018
 

Photograph Credit: Mediamodifier

There is a question among suppliers regarding the tender and procurement websites that are available in Canada. In order to clarify the muddle and compare and contrast the options here is an explanation on the options in Canada.

There are several portals for accessing, participating in, bidding and winning business, which is advertised through a RFx, which is an acronym that is a variation on RFP, RFI or its lesser-used sibling RFQ. Suppliers can access competitive contracts and bid for the business available publically.

The majority of this business is centred on the Public Sector as the government, and its related entities and organizations, is bound by legislation to offer its business openly, but on occasion private business is offered to bidders and suppliers on the private portals as well.

 

  • Name: Biddingo (www.biddingo.com)
  • Cost: $250 (annual)

Toronto-based Biddingo competes with Merx and roughly provides the same service. It hosts tenders for provincial, territorial and municipal governments as well as related pubic sector contracts. It also scours the Internet for a limited number of private sector procurement bids. As of this writing Biddingo showed 1,884 tenders available for the last 30 days.

 

The Government Of Canada began making its tenders available on this portal beginning June 1, 2013. It is a free portal that hosts all current (and expired) Federal Government tenders and does not require registration. However, by registering a supplier could leave a profile behind and obtain its Procurement Business Number. Once an organization wins a contract the organization can get on a Standing Offer. The portal is run by Public Works And Government Services Canada (PWGSC). More recently, the government made moves to decentralize some purchases away from Public Works, but this portal remains the main source for procuring government needs. Since the government has various laws and international trade agreements it abides by there is a minimum threshold for bids which must appear on the website. As such, contracts for lesser amounts (typically less than $25,000) may or may not appear on the website.

 

  • Name: Merx (www.merx.com)
  • Cost: $233 (annual)

Ottawa-based Merx was previously the sole portal for hosting the Federal Government Of Canada’s tenders. This contract ended on May 31, 2013 and the Government Of Canada moved its tenders to Buyandsell.gc.ca. It hosts provincial and other government tenders now as it competes with Biddingo. As of this writing Merx showed 2,998 tenders available for the last 30 days. The portal is a unit of Montreal-based Mediagrif.

 

  • Name: Ontario Tenders Portal (https://ontariotenders.bravosolution.com)
  • Cost: Free

Here is a bonus inclusion as it is pertains to only one province. The Ontario Tenders’ Portal is run by US-based BravoSolution since April 1, 2014, which was recently acquired by Jaggaer. This website hosts Ontario Provincial government’s tenders. Its interface and search capability are archaic, but is the source for tenders for Canada’s largest province. Moreover, as of April 1, 2018 vendors will no longer be required to pay user fees for online bid submissions on the Ontario Tenders Portal.

 

All the abovementioned websites offer search and e-mail notification services.

Post it in the Comments’ section if you have a question about any of these and I can help.

May 232016
 

Request For Proposals are document vehicles through which private and public organizations procure goods and services. The process to use an RFP, or its variants namely Request For Quotation (RFQ) and Request For Information (RFI), are occasionally mandated by organizational policy and more often simply used to ensure the issuer receives the best and most appropriate goods and services from bidders at the most favourable terms. More completely, a RFx ensures there is clear communication between the two, or more, parties.

Naturally, the system is not fully efficient or fool proof. Additionally, resources are expended on the creation, consumption and reaction phases of a RFx. This is true to such an extent that organizations have dedicated units to creating and to answering these documents. Moreover, the process is developed to such an extent that there are consultants who write these things for organizations, sell pre-written and pre-compiled ones or websites that centralize the repository for such documentation.

Suppliers, however, do not typically like these documents. In sales circles there is little confidence that these procurement vehicles lead to business. Anecdotally, the success rate is low.

  • For one, there is nothing stopping organizations from not moving forward. There is no obligation by companies to do anything.
  • Secondly, the very fact that many organizations are bound to issuing a RFx may mean that, while a supplier has already been unofficially nominated, the buyer still has to go through the motions.
  • The most obvious reason, and the third, is that in a game to stack vendors the winning provider may have little profitability or joy to proceed. Indeed, there are several books out there on how to avoid, ignore or respond to an RFP (if one must).

No surprise then that many vendors have stopped responding to these documents. The manpower to entertain these documents and the payoff is considered unjustified.

RFP process

However, there is a time when you and your organization decide to play the odds and respond to an RFx despite the three points above.

Here are tips to increase your chances of winning the business:

  1. First and foremost be truthful in your response. It is important to describe your capabilities and qualification accurately and systematically. This not only mitigates future problems – one of which could be legal –but also allows you and the organization to focus on what you do best. The law of comparative advantages certainly applies here – not to mention your eternal soul should you believe in that sort of thing.
  2. As mentioned, sales organizations typically insist on having input into the document and its creation or having a level of prior relationship before engaging. Lead an honest internal discussion on your chances, your cost (time and money) to participate in the process and estimated profit you may derive. Regular sales factors like likelihood a solution will be adopted and a set deadline for a sale being present also apply. Is there potential additional business? Do you have the scope to offer an elastic response, which gives you and the buyer several cost, material and scope options thus increasing the odds that one of your solutions will be adopted? Speaking of which, should you be the winner your offered price will not be the accepted price. Expect to face price negotiations. Have you bracketed if needed?
  3. Think about the problem you are solving for the customer. This is a different proposition than answering the document point by point. As experts in the field, it is necessary to express your solutions and bring your know-how to bear in addition to solely addressing the questions posed. This includes understanding your audience. Is the end ‘customer’ technical? Is the end customer the manufacturing manager? Is there a financial audience that will review your proposal? Are you speaking their language?
  4. Do not be shy about selling. The sales process did not start or end with the receipt of a RFP or delivery to the customer of a RFI. In fact, sellers are often asked to present on their proposals and answer follow-up questions. It is a must that you explain what you can do, better and above and beyond the competition and how your experience and subject-matter expertise can contribute in addition to what is obvious and written in the document. Remember that your number one competitor is not your competitor, but the standard do-nothing laziness. This does not mean you have license to ignore your closest industry competitor. It is necessary to contrast yourself and to do so explicitly. Do you have differentiators that you should state even if you are not being asked explicitly to do so?
  5. Most obviously, understand the rules. There are typically pre-deadline Q&A sessions, conference calls or information sessions. You may be surprised to know how many times organizations are disqualified due to procedural errors, mismatched expectations or prohibited stipulated criteria (see ‘elasticity’ in point II). Spending some time on this factor saves time, regret and even schadenfreude later on.

 

On the flip side, should you decide you do not wish to proceed explain it to document issuer within the parameters of your organizational context, offer your free additional consulting and do express your wish that you work together in the future instead.

*Things That Need To Go Away: Organizations picking a supplier and subsequently issuing a RFP.

RFP