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Sheridan’s eight tips to avoid common tender mistakes

by Chris Huckstepp •
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Do not assume that there will be a second opportunity to provide pricing during the tender process, Australian Government Chief Technology Officer and Procurement Coordinator John Sheridan cautioned suppliers at the GovInnovate Summit in Canberra yesterday.

In his presentation ‘New is not always innovative’, Sheridan listed eight mistakes that are frequently seen by the Department of Finance when reviewing tender responses.  

The mistakes are “gathered from our extensive experience in whole of government procurement - literally thousands of tender responses,” he said.

His first piece of advice was that ‘mandatory means mandatory’ – suppliers often fail to understand the mandatory requirements and conditions of the tender.

Secondly, do not assume that the tender team will know something about your business. “Write it down,” he said. The advice is especially relevant to incumbent suppliers.

Thirdly, suppliers need to address the criteria and endeavour to demonstrate ability. They often fail to provide factual and focused responses with examples, he said.

Sheridan’s fourth and fifth pieces of advice were ‘don’t be vague’ and ‘don’t submit unsubstantiated claims.’ Suppliers sometimes submit broad, vague and repetitious statements, and non-relevant marketing information, he said. They instead need to quantify and qualify responses – don’t submit meaningless claims such as “we will save you 50 per cent…” or “we are the only one,” he warned.  

The sixth piece of advice was to avoid cutting and pasting from previous non-relevant tender responses.

The seventh was to put your best offer forward the first time, as there will not always be a second opportunity. Don’t think you can game the system, he warned.

Lastly, Sheridan encouraged tender applicants to phone the procurement officer and ask questions. “Don’t guess,” he said. 

Sheridan also used the presentation to outline some of Finance’s initiatives to improve procurement processes for agencies and suppliers, including:

  • The Commonwealth Contracting Suite – intended to simplify and standardise Approach to Market (ATM), Response to ATM and contract documentation;
  • Dynamic Sourcing for Procurement (DS4P) – to assist lead agencies manage panels. “Entity buyers can search for panels and supplier capabilities that match their procurement requirements, create short lists, issue Requests for Quotation and accept quotations online,” said Sheridan; and
  • BuyRight – an “innovative” tool used by Finance to simplify procurement processes internally. “With the tool, procuring goods and services under $200,000 has been de-mystified. Finance has taken the approach that you should not require expertise outside your immediate work area to make purchasing decisions in this space,” he said.

Related articles:

Sheridan eyes future strategic sourcing opportunities for software

New WofG ICT contracting framework released

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