Compliance: Where is Thy Sting?

Yes, the Devil is in the detail! Never, never underestimate the value or the investment you need to make in ensuring your tender response is compliant!

checkKey Points

  • Take compliance seriously - very seriously!
  • Create and include a Tender Compliance Matrix in your offer
  • Utilise external consultants to verify compliance

Yes, the Devil is in the detail! Never, never underestimate the value or the investment you need to make in ensuring your tender response is compliant!

A Case In Point

I learned a lesson vicariously I'm pleased to say, very early in my tender response career which paved the way for a new-found respect for compliance and the way to approach it.

The lesson involved a very large government contract which was worth hundreds of millions of dollars annually and the incumbent employed about 200 people fulfilling the contract requirements. In this particular case those preparing the response to the tender had failed to meet one minor but essential compliance requirement which triggered their disqualification to the shock of all concerned.

The loss of 200 hundred jobs resulted and the implementation of a Transition-Out Plan became the focus of the last ones standing.

I later learned that the client was particularly dissatisfied with the incumbent and was keen to make its disappointment public by awarding the contract to another provider. How easy it was once the tender response failed to meet the tender compliance requirements. How much more difficult it might have been if the incumbent had submitted a fully compliant tender.

The Lesson?

A Compliance Matrix can be used to review the document throughout the process.

Take compliance seriously - very seriously!

Responding to this lesson in a practical way has led me to a number of approaches aimed at ensuring the Tenderer has ticked all the boxes when it comes to compliance. For large and complex tenders it is useful to use a Tender Compliance Matrix to manage the process.

This process involves a forensic evaluation of the Tender Specification to ensure that all aspects of compliance are identified and documented. A Tender Compliance Matrix is created and populated with all compliance items and used as a working and review document throughout the tender response process.

For major tenders, particularly those for government, I recommend the engagement of a legal provider, usually managed by in-house counsel, to check and certify that the tender response is compliant. This would also be a recommendation for any complex and valuable tenders whether in the public or private sectors.

The finalised Tender Compliance Matrix can be included in the tender documentation with a letter from the legal consultant stating that the tender submission complies. This does two things:

  • It demonstrates a very serious approach to compliance, and
  • As a risk management measure it puts the potential client on notice that any challenge to compliance will be met with legal representation.

The cost and effort in responding to and complying with Tender Specifications can be very expensive and taxing on the business. Compliance is often regarded as part of the drudgery of writing a tender response. Failure to take compliance seriously and manage it properly can result in disaster. By putting some simple processes in place, you will not only make sure you never get disqualified for non-compliance, but you'll add value to your response.

robRob Machin is a principal consultant for Tender Success and has assisted a number of suppliers navigate the minefield of complex compliance requirements.

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