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Going, Going, Gone (Bid Perfect at the 2016 Target Trade Show)

Posted On - 12/08/2016 08:07:50

Auctions. Typically they work by presenting stuff for offers and selling to the highest bidder. It's a tried and tested method used for thousands of yearsAuctions. Typically they work by putting stuff up for offers and selling to the highest bidder. They're a tried and tested method used for thousands of years.

So how about this? How would a business auction the chance to pay you? And if you could bid for that, how would you do it?

Daft? Nope: welcome to the world of ITTs, RFPs and Bids. Like to know what all that means? Read on…

Special procedure

A business has an IT problem. They call you, you do the work, bill them and get paid. No probs. Six months later the same happens again. Twelve months on, ditto. Each a stand-alone job, each with its own paperwork. ‘nuff said.

So what happens if the business has problems more often than that, say once a month? And what if they don't just need that level of support, they want you looking out for their IT every day? Daily purchase orders and invoices!?

Well, there are all sorts of ways of administering this and reducing the paperwork. One of them is to use contracts. 

Abbreviations

Contracts define business relationships. They're formal, legal agreements that set out the terms of the arrangement. So all sorts of stuff but essentially what will be supplied at what price as well as the mechanics of payments and administration. The benefits? Predictable work for you, predictable supply and prices for them – usually at a discount because of the ‘promise' of the opportunity.

As for what ITT and RFP mean – one stands for ‘invitation to tender' the other ‘request for proposal'. Both are the accepted ways businesses prompt interested suppliers to quote – often referred to as ‘bid' – to supply them. They're the way businesses auction the chance to pay you.

Mugs game

Tendering for contracts can carry a certain image. People can have a certain idea about where the opportunities are. Right or wrong, the public sector contracts out all sorts of work. We searched www.contractsfinder.service.gov.uk and found over 1,000 opportunities, 145 of them in IT. Everything from cabling to providing a help desk to supplying scanner consumables – valued in the £50,000 - £100,000 range. So plenty of work.

But just as there's a trove of business out there it comes with a problem. Public sector tendering is tough. It's notorious for being ‘lowest price wins'. If you asked us we'd say there are better ways to spend your time. But if you think that means all contract work is cut-throat and to be avoided think again. There's good work to be had at decent rates in the private sector.

Successful bidding

Tendering and winning contracts is as much an art as a science. You have to know the nuances of successful bids so that you can compete across price and competence and confidence and professionalism all at the same time. [Yes, the 'and's' are intentional.]

Unlike government contracts, being the lowest bidder doesn't mean you'll always win when chasing ones with private businesses. What matters is being the most attractive bid. Sure, part of that is about price, but it's also about quality – about how well the bid shows you've got to grips with the real needs of the invitation. And how you've really taken that into account and pitched your offer accordingly. Everyone knows you get what you pay for – just make sure your price is reasonable given what you're offering. Make sure it's clear you're offering value-for-money.

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