Tenders are a waste of time, effort, and money. There, I’ve said it. Every business I’ve been involved with when selling a product turns tenders away (unless there has been involvement prior to the tender being released). Why?
What is a Tender?
A “tender” is a a process by which a company that is going to market in order to find a solution to a business challenge or to assist in growing the business, asks a number of vendors to submit multiple pieces of documentation in order to compare, contrast and eventually select and implement a solution presented by one vendor.
The process starts with the company performing internal requirements analysis. Typically, the tender process is championed by one internal stakeholder who then asks each department that will be involved in using the end solution to submit a list of desired functionality. This internal stakeholder then compiles these responses into one document and often a spreadsheet, the latter being kept internal for the process of later comparison. The document itself is normally a set of questions in the nature of “Can your system perform X? What is the process to perform Y?” etc. These questions are aimed at covering off each of the desired pieces of functionality that the departments involved have requested. The resulting document is then either issued on a website and available for any vendor to respond to, or the champion handpicks a few vendors to participate in the tender.
Each vendor must then compile a response document answering each of the questions (there could be dozens and dozens) in as much detail as possible, including use cases, screenshots, and anything else they feel would help win the business. The vendors then submit these responses back to prospective client. The client reviews (this is a problem in itself), updates their internal comparison spreadsheet and more often than not, a few shortlisted vendors make the next step of meeting with the prospect to discuss moving forward.