At last our holiday – a week in Italy with family and great friends. We had a nice place booked for all of us just outside Siena for seven days to rest, relax, chill out and generally recharge the batteries.
Myself and Dee got there a few days in advance and we were due to pick up our buddy and his girlfriend from the train station in Siena for their much deserved break – he works his ass off all year round and the odd time we get to collaborate on work projects.
I called him the day before we were due to collect them to confirm arrangements and he was a little upset – his company was on a supplier panel for a semi-state body and a project was just put out to tender.
This project, which was right up his street and closely related to a bigger project that we had worked with him on was given a one week deadline for responses.
A one week deadline on a tender for a complex project like this is highly unusual and quite unreasonable. At this holiday time of the year it is more so.
Not only is it unfair but if this organisation are genuine about getting the best providers pitching then one weeks notice just shoots themselves in the foot – you have to ask the question, is it a genuine tender process or is designed for their preferred supplier who are fully briefed and ready to submit to win?
Dilemma – Was he to grab a laptop from somewhere and work on the tender submission, which would take up at least a full day of his hard earned holidays or pass? A contract like this would be important to him and his company so it was a big decision.
My buddy did the reasonable thing and asked for a one week extension – surely this was quite reasonable?
They would have done well to allow him this “break”:
- There was no real urgency on this work (this semi-state have dragged their heels on this project for well over a year already)
- He is hugely knowledgeable on the project and would provide a valuable tender (they know he has this knowledge)
- A weeks notice is unreasonable and highly unusual
- The request was ‘fair’ and reasonable
- They will have a better chance of more quality tender submissions
As expected he got his response;
“I have contacted the evaluation team to review the possibility of extending the deadline, unfortunately we are unable to extend”
I know a guy working there who holds quite a senior role and asked him to look into it.
He investigated it and confirmed that nothing could be done …. the thing is of course it can be. When it suits them anything can be done.
My buddy as he was taking a rare week off with his other half decided after much torment against working on the tender proposal and ruining a big portion of his holiday but it did upset him.
In truth I believe he made a great decision because if they really wanted a proposal from his company it would have happened.
I suspect that if he had given up his time and submitted the best, competitively priced proposal of all time it still would not have won him the job.
Readers of my blog will have heard me giving out about the tender process before – some agree with me and others feel I am moaning and I should accept that this is just the way it is and ‘shut up‘. It has been suggested by some that most tenders are done and dusted in advance of them being published and this is ‘Just the way it is‘.
I strongly believe that tender processes are too often being manipulated, including the use of every possible trick at times to ensure that fairness and the very reason that these processes were introduced in the first place are not applied – this happens over and over.
I have also come to believe that complaining is a total and utter waste of time and probably ends up working against you both in the short and long run.
The sooner there is a body with real power that can oversee the proper application of our tender rules (these are the government agencies that we pay for) and processes and genuinely investigate complaints the better. Without this nothing will change and these farcical situations will continue as they always have.
As for my buddy I suspect his frustration will last longer than his tan ..
Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR, Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland