How do you pick the best cow from a herd?

It is a common misunderstanding that doing a cattle call when you go out to tender will lead to the lowest price. It starts with your definition of ‘lowest price’. Have you clearly defined what you would like to purchase? Did you only think of products and features or also of longer term aspects of the facilities and furniture you plan to buy?

More information will lead to a worse decision. This sounds like a paradox but is especially true in competitive bids. The reason companies go out to tender is that they want to make an objective comparison of what is available on the market, right? So what do you compare? And how do you compare? I have seen tender questions such as: ‘What is your company’s approach to quality’. How do you compare the answers? How would you rate them? How does this help in your decision which supplier to go for?

So you would have to define exactly and clearly what you want. However, the more comparable you want to make the bid responses, the more general you have to make your requests, with less detail and with unambiguously formulated questions. This will lead to less information from the responses, which will make your comparison more difficult, which will lead to a sub optimal decision.

Here you are: you do all this work, you spend all this money, time and effort (which is not counted as cost of the purchase) and then you end up with phone books of data which do not help you in your decision. And you end up buying something that very quickly turns out to be not what you had hoped for. In the end, cheap is just that, cheap. You get what you pay for: cheap is always more expensive in the long run.

The alternative is to use the experience of others. After all, you will not be the first organization to purchase furniture or facilities. And you will spend less money, reduce your waste and improve your decision.


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