Carina Vibenius has just assumed the role of Head of Legal and Tendering at Semantix. She has extensive experience within purchasing, and joined us from PostNord. I spoke to her to find out about the most important things to consider when it comes to tendering and procurement.
What do you think is the most important skill for a company to have in order to win a tender?
It’s important to understand what the procuring authority or company’s needs are. I find that the tendering documentation can sometimes be unnecessarily stilted and hard to read, and I think this is often because the buyer or the procurer is scared of making mistakes and overlooking any legal aspects. Most buyers and procurers are incredibly competent, but there’s great pressure to identify savings and time is short. It’s a matter of being patient and continuously asking questions during the tendering period so that you can be sure of having understood the documentation correctly.
Can you see what your competitors have asked and what information they’ve submitted?
Yes, everything submitted as part of a public procurement becomes a public document. But it’s important to be aware that the same doesn’t apply to private sector procurement.
What kind of background does a procurer tend to have?
There’s no university qualification for working as a buyer or a procurer. Many buyers have a background within economics and have carried out additional legal training to meet the requirements of public procurement. However, I trained as a lawyer and have since completed courses in purchasing.
What is a ‘must’ requirement?
A ‘must’ requirement is an absolute requirement that the purchaser or procurer places on the tenderer. For example, this could relate to how much you can deliver, your capacity and a specific quality level for your product or service. The procurer may ask you to be able to deliver within a particular time frame. There are often environmental certification and CR (corporate responsibility) requirements, and a specific rating or financial status.
How is a tender evaluated?
The evaluation process normally consists of two elements: quality and price. How these two factors are weighted against each other or scored depends on the evaluation model the buyer or procurer chooses to use.
What does an SLA involve?
An SLA, or service level agreement, is used as a measuring tool to establish how well a supplier performs a service or delivers a product.
Can I use SLAs with my subcontractors?
Yes, absolutely. The procurer or buyer often imposes a requirement that the supplier will be responsible for all its subcontractors in the same way as if the supplier had delivered the product or service itself, so this can be a useful solution.
What capacity does my company need to have?
Find out about the capacity your company needs in order to comply with the agreement, how much you can deliver and how quickly. You should of course do everything you can to win the agreement, but not at any cost. If you can’t deliver in accordance with the agreement, the agreement with the procurer won’t work and your brand may be harmed.
How will I be paid as a tenderer?
Find out how your industry operates and what your competitors do. What price models are used? How do your competitors package their services or products?
What can I do if I’m uncertain about the contents of my tender?
There’s a wealth of free information and templates online that you can download to get ideas about what an environmental appendix might look like, for example, and you’re always entitled to ask the buyer or procurer questions during the procurement process.