The Buyer organization has derived lower costs, better supplies, and transparency by automating the buying process. Time the Sellers looked at their back yards.
What?! You guys used to submit 3 boxes as tender response!!!
An executive whom I was interviewing for a sales role burst out laughing! As a young rep he couldn’t believe this was true. Now a days he just uploads the technical and commercial bids on to client's procurement portal and he is done!!
A lot has changed about - how the tender process is done:
1. From researching newspapers for tenders >> to getting daily e-mail feeds.
2. From buying tender docs >> to downloading it from the client website
3. From submitting 3 hard copies >> to uploading the technical & commercial bids
4. From bid opening >> to online reverse auction
These process changes have thrived and provided enormous benefits – to the buyer organizations. Faster processing, quick and accurate comparisons, better evaluation, price/solution discovery, reduced efforts, and systematic process adherence.
No wonder most organizations are slowly but surely migrating towards online procurement platforms.
Now let’s take a look on the other side of the table – the seller-side. Can we say that things have changed on the seller side too? Let’s examine.
The bid response process at many seller organizations will involve most of the following steps:
> Create and track progress thru weekly trackers
> Match and consolidate pre-bid queries from all concerned asynchronously
> Re-create BOM/estimation/pricing formats
> Consolidate/revise/reconcile the inputs multiple times across all participants until the last moment
> Create, distribute proposal format, and merge/re-concile the inputs together every time a team member makes changes.
> Record reviews. deviations, approvals over emails
> Innumerable follow-ups over phone and emails
> Develop weekly, monthly MIS
While the volume and velocity of bids has increased over the years, bid teams continue to be handed down traditional office productivity tools. While they serve a certain purpose, they also create productivity road-blocks for the bid teams, as well as information silos for the organization as a whole.
A common bid response scenario could look like this:
The bid processes are defined but not automated or digitized. Obviously bid teams default to office suites with emails becoming the system of record. Further creating information asymmetry. Tasks are assigned in trackers but there is no visibility of the progress. Everyone works on different sheets and sends last minute changes to the bid manager to consolidate – whether it is pre-bid, pricing, proposal, or estimation. Often leading to delays and errors. And once the bid is submitted everyone’s scrambling around to find the final version of the document submitted.
While the bid response development stage has operational issues, the review and approval process also adds to the challenges. No track if the changes suggested by the Reviewers were done or not. Who approved? When? All such crucial information gets lost under piles of emails. This especially hurts when deals come-up for renewals. Unless the same team of SPOC or approver was involved, it is unlikely that the accurate information will be available for the renewal negotiation.
Lastly, the competitive info gathered during/after the bid is left without capturing it for organization-wide study. This is probably the biggest loss!
No wonder analysis is postponed, forgotten or kept for another day. Impacting decision making and eventually win rates.
Now let’s imagine a different scenario. To begin with, the tasks are assigned and tracked to offer real-time visibility of the progress. All the bid response work, whether its proposals or pricing is created on a single user instance. Auto-updated across the team. No unnecessary to-and-fro of docs over emails. Clone past bids to re-use earlier bid work units. Upload and find all documents at one place.
Reviewer changes go directly to the respective task owner. Different Approval processes based on Territory, BU, and deal value. And when the bid is decided, capture the win/loss information is as much detail as available – both qualitative and quantitative.
All the processes and data getting automatically consolidated into a single repository. Thus, deriving analysis at the bid and business level – similar bids, bid funnel, productivity, stages, and win-loss.
So .. which scenario would you rather have? If we replay the above, we will realize that there is enormous opportunity to improve the process, productivity, and win rates on the seller-side too. 10-15% improvement in bid win ratio or 30-40% improvement in bid team productivity is achievable! Additional benefits will accrue from – better quality submissions, and enhanced governance and controls.
Sellers, you too deserve a bit of fun (advantage)!
Comments and observations welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.