If you have ever responded to a request for quotation or a competitive bid, you will have encountered a Briefing Session, Site Meeting or Information Session. These are meetings held before the quotation or competitive bid (tender) is due.
Most of the time these sessions are compulsory and not attending these, will probably lead to your tender response being disqualified.
Here are a number of things that you must remember or do when you attend one of these sessions:
- Be on time. In the old days you could arrive an hour late and you would still be allowed to enter the session. These days there are cut-off times, normally not later than 15 minutes after the sessions has started. They lock the doors and you will not be able to get in. The cut-off time is usually stated in the tender document or in the tender advertisement.
- Sign the attendance register. Remember to sign the attendance register in the name of the company that you are going to respond in. Many people have multiple companies. Ensure that you use the correct name. When attending the session and knowing you are going into a joint venture to the tender, use the joint venture’s name.
- Buy the tender document. If you have to purchase the tender document beforehand, especially at municipalities, go at least an hour before the session starts. Remember that you are not going to be the only person attending the session and there will most probably be other people queuing to buy the document as well. This might cause you to be late and unable to attend the session.
- Ask questions. The information session is the time to ask questions. You will not get a better opportunity to ask questions. Quickly scan the scope of the tender as well as other requirements and ensure you know exactly what is required from you by asking questions during the session.
- Check out your competition. This is the time to see what your chances of winning the tender are. If there are only three or four attendees at the session then you know you are in with a chance but if there are three hundred attendees, you know it is going to be tough to win the tender.
- If you are going to respond using a joint venture partner or a subcontractor, it might be a good idea to take them along to the session. Let them get the information first hand, as second-hand information is usually not good information.
- Evaluate the opportunity. Sometimes tender descriptions are vague. You might think that the tender opportunity is for you but once you have attended the session you might think twice about responding to the tender. Responding to tenders is time consuming and there is always a cost involved. Evaluate the situation and determine if it is for you or not.
- Finally yet importantly, we always recommend that those who are going to be responsible for responding to the tender attend the briefing session. Important information is shared at these sessions. If you are not there, your tender response might be non-responsive because of information that you did not provide. Do not send your driver or secretary to attend.
If you follow these guidelines, your chances of being awarded a tender will increase tremendously.