Monday, March 22, 2010

A business proposal that never was

I was involved in writing a proposal for a client recently. The contracting buyer was a large public sector quango, who had issued an Invitation to Tender to a range of suppliers who had been consulted over a long period of time about the proposed project.

My client had an opportunity to consult with the buyer beforehand and qualify the opportunity on several occasions...including one-one-one meetings and a supplier's briefing. Then the ITT came out with no surprises. As one of the only providers in the country who had the technical capability (and part of the specification was based on my client's solution) my client was confident.

The ITT was issued as expected and we spent several days putting the proposal response together. The process was managed, we reviewed and edited the proposal. When we were satisfied, we submitted it.

After following up several times with the buyer, a letter was received. We had not been awarded the contract. Damn!

Had we not met the specification?
Did we exceed the available budget?
Was our proposed schedule missing the target delivery dates?
Did we have a poor track record?

No on all the above.

It turns out that the buyer, as a publicly funded body didn't want to waste tax payers money by funding a service that was already commercially viable. How did they know it was commercially viable? Because my client's tender response (and that of a competitor) showed it was.

Why the client didn't realise this was the case before issuing the ITT? They had met with my client and had knowledge of our solution before we put pen to paper. Why ask us to spend all that time telling us that this project was coming up to bid, then asking us to bid, when they knew they would be funding a commericial service?

It was qualified, yet still the buyer didn't buy. Just because they didn't do their homework properly on what they could fund or not and let the bidding organisations know.

At least no tax payers money was wasted. Just my clients in preparing and putting together the bid. But a public sector organisation that can't do it's job properly is wasting public money.