Found! An ‘Inviting’ Invitation

By David Lunn, Principal, CP APMP, MCIPS

Did you know that an organisation’s procurement function also performs a sales role?

Over the years BidWrite has written and presented a number of times about this seemingly oxymoronic concept (ie ‘buying’ people also ‘selling’).

Procurement’s rise as a sales organisation is founded in a number of principles:

  1. The emergence of procurement as a profession meaning that selling type soft skills are part of the practitioner’s toolkit, just like any other profession
  2. The need for procurement to deliver value to its internal customers – which is sometimes difficult to achieve without first selling (and of course then delivering!) its promised benefits
  3. Procurement recognising that suppliers and contractors have choice. If procurement wants to secure the best goods and services, it has to entice the market to participate by ‘selling’ its valued customer credentials.

Inroads are being made re (1) and (2).

But recognising and delivering (3) is, in BidWrite’s view, still rare.  We have always advocated that persuasive principles that sellers use to differentiate their offer from their competitors’ can (and should) also be applied to sourcing processes. This is clearly demonstrated through the development of invitation documents (RFx’) that generate marketplace excitement, interest and more effective participation.

Imagine our delight when we recently saw, first hand, an RFT that ticked all these boxes!

  • It was perfectly clear, well-structured and used personal pronouns to make it friendlier and easier to read
  • It put important information right at the front of the document
  • It went to some trouble to detail the opportunity including its broader context
  • It said what the buying organisation wanted (and – importantly – what it didn’t want)
  • The response requirements were clear, insightful and demonstrated an intention to solicit ideas, insight and understanding – not tick and flick compliance criteria
  • The evaluation process was clear
  • All the necessary legal requirements were of course present (conditions of tender, proposed conditions of contract etc) but these were positioned in their rightful supporting roles in the document – not front and centre in a manner that pretty much shouts ‘master/servant’ not ‘joint problem solvers’
  • There weren’t typo’s, cross referencing errors or other annoying drafting glitches that detract from interpretation and readability
  • It was supplied in an editable form to aid response preparation and also included active links to help document navigation

As an Aussie it deeply pains me to point out the architects of this fabulous invitation document were New Zealanders – a government department to be exact.

Bravo!  Really.  Bravo!

The NZ Government recognises that contractors and suppliers have choice. If, as a buying organisation, you want the best that the market place has to offer then you (and by extension your invitation documentation) need to be just that – inviting.  These are the sorts of opportunities BidWrite loves to work on because there is a clear intention to receive and evaluate strong, interesting offers.

We also suspect that this RFx took no longer to produce than the boring, somewhat clumsy and unappealing invitation documents we see too often.

Let’s hope this ‘client’ focussed invitation attracts equally client focussed responses and leads to a fulfilling well managed and well-executed contract. We expect this will be the case.

And maybe these excellent tendering documentation principles and practices might continue finding their way across the Tasman…

Feel free to contact us if your invitation documents or tenders just aren’t delivering the outcomes you need.  More persuasion is probably needed.


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