Mastering the Bidding Process For Govt./Defence Contracts From Tender to Submission To Improve Your Opportunities For Securing A Bid

<p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>What is this &lsquo;Mastering the bidding process&rsquo; about?</strong></p><p style="text-align: justify;">This quote of &lsquo;Vernon Scannel&rsquo; is very rightly placed to refer to the present context of defence-bidders. They must adapt the style, first do the groundwork and learn to master the first moves of the bidding process if only they aspire to win and secure the bid. Government&rsquo;s military acquisitions are difficult endeavours. In most countries, the procurement process must conform to a host of laws, regulations, procedures and policies. Experience has shown that many decisions are required to flow from different quarters of the Government wings and the Forces&rsquo; Headquarters if any defence capital procurement is to succeed; and larger the size of the capital procurement, these decisions becomes more complex and much longer in the decision-making process. India Govt./defence procurement is perhaps no different. There are many influencing factors that affect the decision- making; and all the stake-holders have to be exceptionally cautious and alert in realisation of the procurement goals. Bidders have more stakes and challenges in this entire procurement-structure and therefore the bidding process calls for complete professionalism and absolute thoroughness in many angles of crafting each such bidding proposition. Within the most open systems, world-class providers are bidding to supply innovative solutions to help the governments meet the challenges they face. In less open systems, bidders are often limited to those that have privileged access to information, or to the procurement process itself. Taxpayers, citizens, government officials and the local markets of such Nations can therefore either be the beneficiaries or the victims of these kinds of differential practices.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Frankly speaking! So called factor of &lsquo;transparency&rsquo; in procurement mechanism is more often said and talked about; but less practiced and never ever completely visible nor written anywhere. Therefore, the bidder&rsquo;s journey continues to be anxious and perplexed amidst known and unknown factors. Opportunities don&rsquo;t mean ready successes unless there is a substantial effort with acts of wisdom in securing the bids. Bidders can no longer afford to be simple novices and gullible. Govt. procurement (and more so Defence procurement) is a professional domain with challenges that calls for &lsquo;knowledge&rsquo; of the procedures and policies, &lsquo;intelligence&rsquo; to research and establish the compliance criteria and also the &lsquo;wisdom&rsquo; to make things happen with acts of precision &amp; correctness everywhere. Therefore, professional bidders do need such knowledge, intelligence and also the wisdom in right ratios &amp; proportions and such a judicious mix of this combination alone can bring in the required craftsmanship and mastery over the bidding process towards securing the order; and converting that so given &amp; available opportunity in to a realisable bid to secure.</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>Bidding Strategy and its fundamental</strong></p><p style="text-align: justify;">The bidding process and the discussion to follow here in bringing out the &lsquo;mastering that process to improve the opportunities for securing the bid successfully&rsquo; are typically outlined for the capital procurement wherein the defence equipment and military systems are procured. The discussion typically connects to the bidding process for India Defence procurement.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Unfortunately, governments in many countries still often procure on a low bid basis, ignoring experience and past performance; and often thus favouring incumbent suppliers, distorting trade flows, limiting competition and increasing prices. While discrimination is sometimes explicit, it often takes the form of opaque bidding processes lacking clarity and transparency. While one can&rsquo;t demand more and more transparency, one should eventually live with this&rsquo; opaque process&rsquo; and turn the same into an advantage. Once one learns to think about one&rsquo;s business the same way the government does, then readiness happens to move along the process that leads up to a successful contract-bid. Of course there is no guarantee of success when competing for any business, but there are some basic rules and better practices that will help to ensure the bid for government- contract has the best possible chance of success. The military applies strategy and tactics to its operations to win. Strategy is the &lsquo;overall business plan&rsquo; and tactics is the &lsquo;methods&rsquo; used to achieve the strategic goals. The same concept applies to bidding. The goal is to win work and make a profit at completion of the project. The bidding strategy lies indirectly in placing oneself as the Govt. customer and analyzing how the bid that one submits would get treated for its complete acceptance. The bidder must mimic the Govt. customer in his thinking &amp; practice while preparing himself for the bidding process and during the construction of the bid that is to be submitted in response to the tender. That&rsquo;s the fundamental aspect in the bidding strategy.</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>Decision-matrix in bidding propositions</strong></p><p style="text-align: justify;">Whilst bidding for defence contracts, the bidder must necessarily decide whether or not to bid on a given opportunity. All opportunities are not necessarily to be merited for any compulsive bidding. It&rsquo;s the choice and selection of the bid to quote/or the case to handle that any bidder should be extraordinarily cautious and diligent. Therefore the bidder is required to answer to himself essentially four questions:</p><p style="text-align: justify;">(i) Is the procurement real?</p><p style="text-align: justify;">(ii) &nbsp; &nbsp;Does the business have the requisite capability to perform the work?</p><p style="text-align: justify;">(iii) Is it good business</p><p style="text-align: justify;">(iv) Can the business win the procurement?</p><p style="text-align: justify;">The very first question is - Is the procurement real? This question is usually addressed first. Any business opportunity, particularly in defence procurement, that a company judges not to be &ldquo;real&rdquo; warrants little further consideration. There are many considerations in assessing whether or not an opportunity is real. There are further exploratory questions such as (i) what is the realistic schedule? (ii) what is the likelihood of award? (iii) what is the scope? (iv) does the company enjoy good communications with the customer? (v) Is the contract program mission-critical? (vi) does the company connect to buyer&rsquo;s support and end-user&rsquo;s support and guidance? (vii) what is the funding required and how will the company secure the financing/funding support? These basic questions address whether the system on acquisition is really needed by the procuring entity and also whether the bidding company has sufficient support and wherewithal to enable it survive the battle for resources in coping with the bidding process and also the contract-execution if awarded. Key factors include evaluation of the extent to which the system on acquisition supports the government&rsquo;s priorities and end-user needs; whether key decision-makers in the government support the acquisition process and if contracting could really happen, and also whether the system on bid and acquisition by the government would really be procured and the definite point that such procurement is real and budgeted. If there is any doubt after a thorough evaluation that the bid is unlikely to get converted into the contract-decision at a later date, one would automatically appreciate the reason not to get excited unduly about the case in question and invest time, resources and effort for bid-participation.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">The next question, &ldquo;Can the Business do it?&rdquo; This is actually a two-part question relating to the bidder&rsquo;s ability to assemble a winning team, as well as his own internal capability to perform under the contract. Basically the issue involves talent, time, other resources, and also the ability to make the necessary resources available at the appropriate times. Bidders compare each acquisition to other tradable opportunities and commitments. They</p><p style="text-align: justify;">must make objective assessments of the resource-requirements and must carefully evaluate commitments from their partners. Adequate time must be available to execute successfully both the proposal and operational phases. Comprehensive risk-analyses are very important, especially if significant development requirements or other technical or business uncertainties exist. An assessment regarding the stability of the department&rsquo;s &lsquo;requirements-definition &amp; acquisition approach&rsquo; must be made and re-visited thoroughly. Finally any danger- scenario &lsquo;to win a contract for which a bidder can do the works but not make a profit&rsquo; must not be lost sight of. Obviously bidders seek to avoid this situation. The most important question thereafter is, &ldquo;Can the Business win it?&rdquo; This is the most subjective and problematic point of the four questions. It is also the most dynamic one since the answer can change the approach and bid-intention abruptly and irrevocably at any time during the procurement process. In most instances, bidders do not definitively have the answer to this in advance of the award. Therefore bidders seek to evaluate and maximise their probability of winning in spite of many indecisive factors and unknowns that impinge on the question. Partnerships and competitive bidding are major factors of analysis in assessing the probability of winning. Even though some very large and competent companies do go ahead and bid alone in some major defence-contracts, sometimes no single firm, however outwardly capable it could be, can successfully win and perform alone. It is important on large contracts, particularly with those of government, to create partnering relationships and strategic- consortiums for a bid. Forming the right set of relationships or consortium-mix/or SPVs can often produce a significant competitive advantage. Conversely, forming the wrong set can preordain a serious loss (both in reputation and revenue) in spite of the good works carried out by the bidder. Understanding the strengths of the partnerships and the strengths of the potential competitors is highly crucial. Understanding the current competitive environment is also very important. Information about a competitor&rsquo;s current workload status and strategies, and analysis of the fit between the experience-set of the bidding company and the contract requirements are quite important. Most bidders maintain a significant competitive analysis capability to help them answer these questions and obtain the information. This analysis and assessment of responses to this question become important in the bidding strategy. Mastering this is perhaps an essential requisite in securing the bid and also doing the business too.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">The next relevant question is, &ldquo;Is it a good Business?&rdquo; Bidders use the term &ldquo;business case&rdquo; to describe an overall assessment of the potential contract from a bottom-line perspective. They compare the investment required in Bid and Proposal (B&amp;P) funds and other resources to the potential life-cycle profits under various scenarios. B&amp;P costs can often run as much as 10% of the total contract value in complex procurements. Bidders weigh each potential bid against others that compete for resources and against corporate expectations. These expectations result from financial performance-measures and risk-analyses, as well as product, service and growth strategies. The business case says it all. There are many aspects in working out this business case. Is the requirement of the customer repetitive? Is it one time requirement? Will the order-quantity be worth the research and development &amp; engineering costs? Will the non-recurring expenditure get amortized over sufficient order-quantity? Is the funds-flow in tune with the business-merits of investment and effort? What would be the financing model, the revenue model and P&amp;L model? These questions become quite relevant for looking at bid- prospect. In summary, bidders deploy their marketing forces &amp; management resources to assess the relative merits of a potential bid. They consider first whether or not it is &ldquo;real&rdquo;; then they assess their probability of winning the bid and their ability to perform under the circumstances of the contract. Given heavy demands on limited B&amp;P funds and other resources, bidders have no choice but to be selective in deciding which bids to pursue.</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>Uncertainty Management in bidding</strong></p><p style="text-align: justify;">The most important step, unarguably, is to develop a winning proposal and this is the step where cost- estimation is largely involved. In order to develop a successful proposal that secures the deal and results in winning the bid, as accurate as possible cost-estimate is required. What makes the bidding process important is the fact that considerable expertise is required in preparing bids as the terms of the bid not only influence the chances of winning but also shape the working context for successful bids. Effective and efficient bidding processes, that are based on a sound understanding of all the important issues and the concerns of all parties involved, are quite critical success-factors for contractor-organisations. Thus preparing the bid is undoubtedly the most important exercise and an uphill task in sizing the compliance matrix and determining the price, particularly those where the contracts are meant for major systems and equipment with stringent technological considerations. Uncertainty management lies in this price-determination and that requires to be handled with all prudence and in all diligence.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">One must understand that an estimate one makes for the proposed works and contract-value is entirely different from contract-price determination. Estimates only aid the price-decision of the proposal; and the price- fixation in submitting the proposal has a lot of other factors of influence, which combine both predictable and unpredictable. Predictable parts are usually the estimates for the build and construction of the product(s) and contract-handling. The unpredictable part of the price emanates from the uncertainties arising out of FE variation, possible work-scope enhancement, extended field-trials duration, long deployment of engineers to the fields for installation, commissioning, trials and acceptance, the subjective processes which could creep into the final assessment and evaluation, changing priorities and dynamics of the customer-hierarchy in the defence- organisations which can lead to different expectations at variance from those initially discussed, changes in assessment criteria and the drag thereof on the contract-duration. The winning bid has to review carefully this unpredictable aspect which in turn amounts to managing the &lsquo;Uncertainty&rsquo;.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">The focus of the bid-submission therefore is placed upon the identification and control of uncertainty in the context of the bidding process. Uncertainty is a relatively new concept, in that it is not fully understood even by those that are appointed to manage it. There is a lack of a coherent definition for uncertainty. There is considerable ambiguity between uncertainty and risk within the industry. One reason for this confusion may be due to the fact that uncertainty is present within each risk. There are different types of uncertainty (e.g. epistemic and variability), whereas risk is a singular concept of an event leading to an unfavourable impact. Uncertainty is comparatively different from risk. Uncertainty expresses a lack of definitive knowledge around a task or activity, and for that reason, as opposed to risk-management; uncertainty does not differentiate between positive and/or negative. However, the very idea of it being unclear can be intimidating since the precise impact is unknown. The importance of uncertainty has become clear only of late in terms of organisational performance. When a project fails to meet the expected outcome, it is assessed to determine the areas that resulted in failure and this is where elements that were not anticipated may be identified. Therefore the critical aspect of bidding process starts by defining uncertainty and identifying its main sources. It then continues by providing modeling approaches and methods to manage uncertainty.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">The method to resolve uncertainty is to apply a classification based on the degree of uncertainty for some group- elements. Uncertainties are allocated into groups according to how uncertain each element is perceived to be; and these groups are such as (i) Lack of Knowledge (ii) Lack of Definition (iii) Statistically Categorised Variables (iv) Known Unknowns &amp; Unknown Unknowns. Let us analyse these groups for understanding the &lsquo;Management of Uncertainty&rsquo;. Lack of knowledge entails elements that are not known or only known imprecisely and which can be reduced by acquiring available knowledge relevant to the uncertainty in consideration. This acquisition of knowledge can be through research or experimentation. Lack of definition refers to the areas of a project that have not been clearly specified. Many tenders are incomplete or silent about many aspects in projecting the exact contract-definition for the scope, works, requirements, specifications and needs vis-&agrave;-vis the acceptance procedures and trial-conditions. Time is a critical factor in this category as specifications need to be allocated appropriately. Thus difficulties may arise if definitions are placed too early or too late for specific elements. Solutions to such uncertainties are perhaps achievable through effective project management. Statistically categorised variables include events/ conditions that are difficult to determine with absolute exactness but they can be modeled using statistics (e.g. probability distribution, analysis of variance, correlation &amp; regression, hypothesis-testing etc.). The inflation rate, FE variation, work-force attrition, wage- revisions of the employed work-force etc. become suitable examples for this category, in that the exact value difficult to ascertain is often modeled with a range of values. Known Unknowns refer to events/conditions similar to the previous category but with increased vagueness in the probability of occurrence and its associated impact. A suitable example is the prediction of the inflation rate at a future date. Unknown Unknowns are the very problematic uncertainties as they are very difficult to determine; and even when efforts are made to begin identification, they may appear impractical to include in an estimate. Political changes &amp; compulsions, acts of God for force majeure and unknown field-integration requirements, matching with supplies of some other systems and equipment of unknown origin and design &amp; performance-content, details of legacy systems which require to be interfaced and for which no data &amp; documentation exist, and so on.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">The cost-estimation process includes several inputs from a potentially large number of stakeholders across multiple functions like designers, vendors, sub-contractors, import-houses and such other functionaries in the contract-management chain. As a result, the level of subjectivity is high and the question arises whether suitable bias, such as relevant domain knowledge, has been introduced. This will enable more realistic and well defined estimates rather than ambiguous suggestions from inexperienced members. The bid stage may regularly face</p><p style="text-align: justify;">projects that have limited information so that subjective input from an expert would be required. The level of subjectivity increases as objectivity reduces. Objectivity is viewed as historical data from previous projects and subjectivity is that which is provided by a subject-matter expert or/and the domain-man (for example, a predicted value based on his work from his personal experiences) who may not have the complete information.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">It is important to note that computer simulations may also tend towards subjectivity as their assumptions are provided by expert-individuals with some limitations. Objectivity and subjectivity are notions that are difficult to isolate; however this &lsquo;uncertainty management&rsquo; appears to be dependent upon these two factors towards &lsquo;bidding for a project&rsquo;. A completed project will have elements of objectivity such as the final result(s). The subjective components can be identified in the early life of the project. It is essentially required to understand these aspects and form relationships, assessments, approximations and estimates to comprehend the &lsquo;price- determination&rsquo; for the &lsquo;contract to execute&rsquo; efficiently at the bid stage.</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>Steps to &ldquo;Mastering the bidding process&rdquo;</strong></p><p style="text-align: justify;">There are some important steps which require discussion towards mastering the bidding process. (1) The first step of the bidding process, during the pre-tender stage, involves managerial/soft actions that include locating the customer &amp; the preliminary interactions, engaging his interest and presentation to him of the company&rsquo;s products. For the bid to be acceptable, the company&rsquo;s products must be properly customised to meet the customer&rsquo;s needs. There must absolutely be no gap between the offered products by the bidders and the deliverable products to the customer, or/and the complete deliverables and implementable criteria must be well understood at this pre-bid stage. Mimicking the customer in understanding the contract-needs &amp; deliverables to reduce any gap between the contract-needs (and requisites of the tender to follow) and the abilities of the bidder to account for these becomes very significant to ensure the bid-success as well as the contract-success (2) The next step is &lsquo;Understanding and analyzing the role of the supply chain policy&rsquo; to effectively procure goods and services for the bidder-organization and defining the critical components of the supply chain management framework. The success of the project delivery lies in the efficiency of the supply- chain management; knowing the right vendors, the reliable intermediaries, sources of supply and channels of distribution for material-receipts shall become very important (3) The step further is to successfully develop an efficient bid-specification process for proposal-submission that captures all the bid requirements which are stated, unstated, specified and unspecified by the customer. Even the obligatory requirements, legal requirements, statutory and regulatory requirements have to be well captured in clearly architecting the proposal to submit. Capturing the bid-requirements in terms of what the end-users require the final product (the system or equipment) to be in its entire operating &amp; exploitation environment is the most important process. Most failures are on account of the huge gap that happens between what gest delivered vis-&agrave;-vis what is actually expected &amp; required by the customer(s) (4) The step further is to identify special conditions of contract that determine the terms of reference for effectively managing the contract. On most occasions, such special conditions go unnoticed. The trial-environment amidst the specified sea-states, the exploitation-trials in climatically tough areas, the environmental and trial settings, the stringent QRs which need to be met for a very specific tactical operational necessity etc. are these aspects. If these are not identified and accounted in the proposal and costing, the contract-completion shall get long-stretched. (5) The crucial step could be to identify the exact key-evaluation and selection criteria that are used to assess prospective bidders. These come from understanding the budgetary constraints of the customer, urgency of procurement, method of acceptance, some binding dates and typical delivery time-frame, import and indigenous material mix, technology needs, delivery obligations, &lsquo;value-addition&rsquo; expectations beyond the QRs and such others which are used for datum-fixing, comparison across bidders and negotiable elements.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">These aspects, if only well understood, accounted for and maintained towards the bidding process time and again for the defence-contract interests, can certainly bring in the much desired mastery in improving the opportunities for securing the bids.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Once the bidder learns to think about his business the same way the government does, he is ready to move along the process that leads up to a successful contract bid. To keep things organized and facilitate this process, he can break down the actions he needs to deal with into the important steps. Keeping in mind that although the actions he needs to take are presented in a step-by-step fashion, it does not mean that they need to be done one at a time or in the order presented. They can be done simultaneously or in a different order, depending on his circumstances to enable him with the bidding process.<br />It serves better contextually here to explain the relevant and most important 9 (Nine) steps in a very simple manner. That is just to suggest a pattern of moving ahead in some step-wise sequence, though the order of steps is immaterial as it has already been conveyed in the previous sections. The 9 (Nine) steps are:</p><p style="text-align: justify;">(1) &nbsp; &nbsp;Identify the Customers: It is the bidders&rsquo; onus to identify the customer-organisations; they perhaps don&rsquo;t know the capabilities of the bidders for the product-necessities on their own unless the bidders happen to be highly branded companies of repute. The buying offices of the government don't know the bidders are out there, but bidders can find them if they know where to look. Any one, as a bidder, must essentially be quite visible, conspicuous &amp; known to the customer-organisations. There is no procurement-gazette that is published in India in advance, indicating what all equipment &amp; systems are required by whom all and the probable dates/anticipated dates of RFIs and tendering. However, if the bidders are vigilant about the procurement-needs of the Govt., it wouldn&rsquo;t be very difficult to understand where to look.<br />(2) &nbsp; &nbsp;Get Registered: Before the bidder can start actually bidding on contracts, the government needs to know who the bidder is and what he does. A mistake or omission at this point could severely hurt the bidder&rsquo;s chances of gaining a contract. On most occasions, it would be prudent to have the DGQA registration or the DGAQA registration for defence and aerospace supplies. In case the contract-bids require design and development efforts in Aerospace, it is imperative to have the CEMILAC certification and for other kind of industrial R&amp;D, CSIR certification is opined to be a necessity for the bidders to establish the R&amp;D credentials and development &amp; engineering capabilities.<br />(3) &nbsp; &nbsp;Find Bid Leads: The government is required by law to inform all potential contractors of what they're looking for, but the question is- Are bidders listening? Has it come to their attention the requirement of RFI or EFI or any RFP/RFQ? There are a number of outlets for this information, and the bidder needs to have an information system that would generate the published leads and also the probable leads. The leads may happen from the web-sites, or forecast plans issued by the customer-organisations or by meetings and direct contacts with the concerned customers. Unless the bidder has a very early input about the bid-leads, the ability to prepare and formulate the bid could perhaps get compromised.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">(4) &nbsp; &nbsp;Get the Bid Package: Once the bidder has got the lead, the then needs to get his hands on the specifics. He needs to find out how to get the bid package and how to understand its particular pricing arrangement. Bid package is not necessarily what is available in the tender document or what is offered in the RFI/RFP. The important issues which are unstated, unspecified, contractually obligatory, installation- specific, other imperatives including the real nature of the bid and the budgetary provisions etc. require to be secured for a deeper analysis. Attending &lsquo;Briefing-meetings&rsquo; organised by the customer would indeed help. Lack of comprehensive understanding of the bid-package can definitely put the bidder to a serious competitive disadvantage.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">(5) &nbsp; &nbsp;Review the Bid: The solicitation bidder has just received may have the potential to be a binding contract. One must know what to read and how to read it to maximize the chances for success. While one would look for what is present in the bid-data and appreciate what customer expects, it is mandatory for the bidder to look beyond what are not present for what is not explained in the bid; but likely to become essential requisites for bidding and to learn what customer anticipates. Here is the need to just mimic the customer to grasp the wholesomeness of the bid&rsquo;s content from the customer&rsquo;s point of view with amind-mapping attitude. Perhaps this is the most crucial step and most bidders don&rsquo;t try to realise the importance of same. Also it is mandatory to decide upon whether one would need consortium-partners for handling the bid; and then do the meticulous review of such consortium-partners in joining up and forming the group to ensure a collective work.<br />(6) &nbsp; &nbsp;Get &amp; review Technical Data: To successfully complete the bid-proposal, one will need to do some research. The bidder must understand what types of specs may apply and how to get the correct data to comply with the order. There is a requirement to review the technical feasibility of achieving the specifications and viability of securing the components and sub-units to meet the specification-criteria. The requirement to form up consortiums must get critically reviewed for the requisite technical strengths and configuration; and definite evaluation of consortium-partners must get done. Here is the need to establish the supply chain for the bill of material that would essentially be required to build the product in its entirety for a delivery-conformance. It is imperative to establish the sources of supply and the lead-times well before, so that no undue confidence is held for the issues related to supply chain management. In fact the constraints that are physical and practical can be taken up with customer either formally or informally to find solutions and alternatives. Lack of critical examination of the technical data can become a serious bottleneck in securing the bid and the bidder might get exposed for lack of awareness during the technical negotiations.<br />(7) &nbsp; &nbsp;Price it Out: As once explained before, pricing is different from merely making the estimates. The pricing has to account for certainties, uncertainties and risks. It is perhaps better to lay down all the factors and make a thorough appreciation of the uncertainties and risks. Every bidder must place the bid-proposal on a thorough review to examine on a triangle of the three models, i.e., financing model, the revenue model and the profit &amp; loss model. The pricing that stands to a critical evaluation on this basis, yet not forsaking the &lsquo;sustainable competitive advantage&rsquo; shall be a winning strategy. In a competitive bidding process, price is the determining factor. And if the bid is accepted, it may literally make or break one&rsquo;s company, so one must know what factors to consider.<br />(8) &nbsp; &nbsp;Write a proper Proposal: This is a formal procedure that must be completed exactly line-by-line. One should never forget to make the proposal with all compliance-requirements specifically discussed and brought out without any ambiguity. Quite often it helps to make a well-meaning and comprehensive check-list well before &amp; ensure verification of the proposal completeness vis-&agrave;-vis the contents of such a check-list. The proposal must be lucid for its content, clear without ambiguity, complete with all data, competitive in its offer and substantial for the whole requirement. The most important aspect in making the proposal is to build the uniqueness of the factors in terms of technology proposed, the support factors assured &amp; obligatory requirements essentially put up. Therefore, the most important aspects in writing a bid-proposal to construe a perfect winning strategy shall undoubtedly be: (a) Uniqueness of product(s) and support features (b) Completeness in conformance to compliance- requirements (c) Sustainable competitive advantage in pricing. Therefore, the entire bid submission revolves around these three important factors and these are the most critical ones to decide whether the bid can be secured or not.<br />(9) &nbsp; &nbsp;Submit the Bid: Submission of the bid is the final step in a bidding process and that should be full of fine-print. Packaging the bid-proposal well is extremely important so that it is conspicuous and never missed out in a set of many. One must know the best ways to keep one&rsquo;s bid protected from being kicked out at the last second. One must never take it easy until one has the confirmed acknowledgement of the receipt of the bid-proposal well in time by the addressee. Most important factor is the timing of the bid-proposal submission. One should never be early at all in submitting it well before time and that makes no reason; at the same time, one should never be complacent to get delayed too in the submission. While &lsquo;Just-In-Time&rsquo; could perhaps be the right thinking, one may ensure that due allowances are given and correctly placed for the transit-problems and mail- uncertainties. Most important bid-documents are better delivered in person through the most reliable sources.</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>Indian Defence procurement system</strong></p><p style="text-align: justify;">India Defence Procurement Procedure, in general, has a systematically laid down procurement procedure in terms of a sequential process, with no exception to make about it in any case of capital procurement. The steps in sequence usually are : (i) Need/ Acceptance of the Necessity (ii) SQRs (Staff Quality Requirements) formulation RFI (Request for Information) issue (iii) RFC (Request for Comments) to gather clarifications and firming up the tender documents and freezing of SQRs and specifications (iv) RFP (Request for Proposal) with separate quotes for techno-commercial bid and price bid (v) TEC (Technical Evaluation Committee) evaluation for suitable cases (vi) Live and Test Demonstration on NC-NC (No Cost and No Commitment) (vii) Selection of technically acceptable and field-worthy cases by Field Evaluation Team (viii) PNC (Price Negotiation Committee) for price verification and competitive assessment of L-1 bidder (ix) Award of Contract. Therefore, the bidding process for defence procurement commences at the SQR formulation stage for pre-bid interactions, then progresses at RFI stage provisionally for mapping the requirements vis-&agrave;-vis their product(s) and thereafter fully happens at RFP stage conclusively.</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>Capital Acquisitions &ndash; Defence procurement &ndash; An overview !</strong></p><p style="text-align: justify;">Capital acquisitions are 04 important categories. These are : (a) Acquisitions Covered under the &lsquo;Buy&rsquo; Decision : Buy would mean an outright purchase of equipment. Based on the source of procurement, this category would be classified as &lsquo;Buy (Indian)&rsquo; and &lsquo;Buy (Global)&rsquo;. &lsquo;Indian&rsquo; would mean Indian vendors only and &lsquo;Global&rsquo; would mean foreign as well as Indian vendors. &lsquo;Buy Indian&rsquo; must have minimum 30 % indigenous content if the systems are being integrated by an Indian vendor (b) Acquisitions Covered under the &lsquo;Buy &amp; Make&rsquo; Decision : Acquisitions covered under the &lsquo;Buy &amp; Make&rsquo; decision would mean purchase from a foreign vendor followed by licensed production/indigenous manufacture in the country (c) Acquisitions Covered under the &lsquo;Buy &amp; Make (Indian)&rsquo; Decision : Acquisitions covered under the &lsquo;Buy &amp; Make (Indian)&rsquo; decision would mean purchase from an Indian vendor including an Indian company forming joint venture/establishing production arrangement with OEM followed by licensed production/ indigenous manufacture in the country. &lsquo;Buy &amp; Make (Indian)&rsquo; must have minimum 50 % indigenous content on cost basis (d) Acquisitions Covered under the &lsquo;Make&rsquo; Decision: Acquisitions covered under the &lsquo;Make&rsquo; decision would include high technology complex systems to be designed, developed and produced indigenously. All cases involving upgrade to an in service weapon system /equipment will also be covered by this procedure. The categorisation may be carried out depending on scope of the proposal, availability of technology indigenously and the need for seeking critical technologies from foreign vendors.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">The acquisition process for schemes categorised as &lsquo;Buy&rsquo; and &lsquo;Buy and Make&rsquo; with ToT&rsquo;, will involve the main functions such as (i) Services Qualitative Requirements (SQRs) (ii) Acceptance of Necessity (AON) (iii) Solicitation of offers (iv) Evaluation of Technical offers by Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC) (v) Field Evaluation (vi) Staff Evaluation (vii) Oversight by Technical Oversight Committee (TOC) for Acquisitions above` 300 Crs. (viii) Commercial negotiations by Contract Negotiation Committee (CNC) (ix) Approval of Competent Financial Authority (CFA) (x) Award of contract / Supply Order (SO) (xi) Contract Administration and Post-Contract Management.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Solicitation of offers will be as per &lsquo;Single Stage &ndash;Two Bid System&rsquo;. It will imply that a &lsquo;Request for Proposal&rsquo; would be issued soliciting the technical and commercial offers together, but in two separate sealed envelopes. This system safeguards against the possibility of the vendor increasing his commercial offer consequent to development of a single vendor situation after evaluation. Once the SQRs have been finalised, the sources of procurement of the weapon system/stores shall be ascertained and short-listing of the prospective manufacturers/suppliers carried out by the SHQ.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">The short-listed vendors will be the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs)/Authorised Vendors/ Govt Sponsored Export Agencies (applicable in the case of countries where domestic laws do not permit direct export</p><p style="text-align: justify;">by OEMs). In cases involving TOT, the short-listing of the vendors would take into account their ability to transfer requisite technology for license production. The list of short-listed vendors may be supplemented by the Technical Managers in Acquisition Wing for which, a databank will be maintained by them. Keeping the security and other relevant aspects in view, appropriate publicity may be given to the proposed procurement with a view to generate maximum competition.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">It is well accepted that the market for state-of-the-art defence equipment and platforms is circumscribed by denial regimes. In addition, national security concerns prevent operational parameters of equipment required by defence services being made public. The procurement of defence equipment on the basis of limited tenders, therefore, becomes imperative. Such RFPs would be processed by SHQs, after due consultation with all concerned agencies including user, procurement and maintenance directorates at SHQ and the Quality Assurance (QA) agency.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">In cases where ToT is being sought, the nominated Production Agency (PA) would vet the RFP. Inputs may be sought from DRDO on case to case basis. The RFPs would then be vetted by the Acquisition Manager, Finance Manager and Technical Manager or their nominated representatives in a collegiate manner, before submission to the Director General (Acquisition) for approval and issue to all shortlisted vendors by Technical Manager. No addition to the vendors would be allowed after issue of the RFP. However, it would be open for the Acquisition Wing in MoD to procure &lsquo;Commercially Off the Shelf&rsquo; (COTS) equipment, not available on DGS&amp;D rate contract on the basis of open tenders.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Inter Government Agreement</p><p style="text-align: justify;">There may be occasions when procurements would have to be done from friendly foreign countries which may be necessitated due to geo-strategic advantages that are likely to accrue to our country. Such procurements would not classically follow the Standard Procurement Procedure and the Standard Contract Document but would be based on mutually agreed provisions by the Governments of both the countries. Such procurements will be done based on an Inter Governmental Agreement after clearance from CFA. The cases which would fall under the preview of this provision are: (a) There are occasions when equipment of proven technology and capabilities belonging to a friendly foreign country is identified by our Armed Forces while participating in joint international exercises. Such equipment can be procured from that country which may provide the same, ex their stocks or by using Standard Contracting Procedure as existing in that country. In case of multiple choices, a delegation may be deputed to select the one, which best meets the operational requirements (b) There may be cases where a very large value weapon system/platform, which was in service in a friendly foreign country, is available for transfer or sale. Such procurements would normally be at a much lesser cost than the cost of the original platform/ weapon system mainly due to its present condition. In such cases, a composite delegation would be deputed to ascertain its acceptability in its present condition. The cost of its acquisition and its repairs / modifications would be negotiated based on Inter- Governmental Agreement<br />(c) In certain cases, there may be a requirement of procuring a specific state of the art equipment/platform;<br />however, the Government of the OEM&rsquo;s country might have imposed restriction on its sale and thus the equipment cannot be evaluated on &lsquo;No Cost No Commitment&rsquo; basis. Such equipment may be obtained on lease for a specific period by signing an Inter-Governmental Agreement before a decision is taken for its purchase.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">In cases of large value acquisition, especially that requiring product-support over a long period of time, it may be advisable to enter into a separate Inter Government Agreement (if not already covered under an umbrella agreement covering all cases) with the Govt of the country from which the equipment is proposed to be procured after the requisite inter-ministerial consultation. Such an Inter-Governmental Agreement is expected to safeguard the interests of the Govt of India and should also provide for assistance of the foreign Govt in case the contract(s) runs into an unforeseen problem. In certain acquisition cases, imperatives of strategic partnerships or major diplomatic, political, economic, technological or military benefits deriving from a particular procurement may be the principal factor determining the choice of a specific platform or equipment on a single vendor basis. These considerations may also dictate the selection of particular equipment offered</p><p style="text-align: justify;">by a vendor not necessarily the lowest bidder (L1). Decisions on all such acquisitions would be taken by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) on the recommendations of the DPB.<br />Typical procedure for SQRs formulation: For Bidders&rsquo; awareness</p><p style="text-align: justify;">The bidders must know how the Staff Quality Requirements are finalised (a phase that is very crucial in the procurement procedure) and the entire sequence of steps in the same, linking various functionaries and directorates. This understanding would greatly help in pre-bid interactions with all concerned officers and also the rightful method of bid-formulation. I request the audience to note the route and various functionaries involved in SQRs formulation and such awareness shall help in prior understanding of the process.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">All Capital Acquisitions shall be based on Services Qualitative Requirements (SQRs). The SQRs should lay down the user&rsquo;s requirements in a comprehensive, structured and concrete manner. SQRs should specify the requirement of military grade, ruggedized and Commercially Off the Shelf (COTS) items. The SQRs would be drafted by the user directorate at SHQ. In order to make broad based SQRs, required inputs will be obtained by issue of RFI on MoD website by SHQ/and by corresponding with maximum manufacturers. Additional inputs should be obtained from defence attaches, internet and defence journals/magazines/ exhibitions, previously contracted cases in such category. The inputs so obtained should result in the form of a compliance table of SQRs vis-&agrave;-vis technical parameters of equipment available in world market.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Draft SQR would be circulated by SHQ (Service Headquarters) to all concerned for obtaining their views/comments including other possible user directorates, maintenance directorate, HQ IDS (Integrated Defence Staff), DRDO, Department of Defence Production (DDP), Director General of Quality Assurance (DGQA)/Director General of Aeronautical Quality Assurance (DGAQA), Directorate of Standardisation, Technical Managers and any other necessary department. These agencies will also be represented on the Staff Equipment Policy Committee (SEPC) for approving the SQRs. Records in respect of Qualitative Requirements (QRs) will be maintained by the User Service(s). In cases where commonality of equipment exists and standardisation of QRs is merited, it would be the responsibility of HQ IDS to constitute a Joint Staff Equipment Policy Committee, with representative of all members as above, from the three services, in order to formulate Joint Service Qualitative Requirements (JSQRs) for such equipment. The QRs shall be prescribed in clear-cut terms and they should not be vague or ambiguous. Prior to according approval to the SQRs, the SEPC should assess that it would result in a multi-vendor situation. If a single vendor situation is likely then the reasons for formulation of such SQRs be recorded. Such cases would be debated in the SCAPCHC (Services Capital Acquisition Plan Categorisation Higher Committee) meeting while seeking AON (Acceptance Of Necessity) and approved by DAC/DPB.</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>RFI stage - For Bidders&rsquo; awareness</strong></p><p style="text-align: justify;">RFI should also ask the vendor to provide all the elements which need to be structured into the costing of the weapon/equipment (including that of a comprehensive maintenance/ product support package). The RFI may also seek ToT aspects to include range and depth of ToT and the key technologies identified by DRDO. This will serve as a guideline to formulate an all-encompassing Commercial Offer format at the stage of the RFP. RFI may also be issued in certain cases as advance intimation for the vendors to obtain requisite government clearances. It is necessary for the bidders to grasp all the SQRs at this very RFI stage and verify the mapping of their product-capabilities vis-&agrave;-vis SQRs and the conformances required thereof.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">RFP methodology in &lsquo;Buy and Make (Indian)&rsquo;: For Bidder&rsquo;s awareness</p><p style="text-align: justify;">In cases categorized as &lsquo;Buy and Make (Indian)&rsquo;, RFP will be issued to only Indian vendors, who are assessed to have requisite technical and financial capabilities to undertake such projects. For selection of such cases, SHQ will prepare a Capability Definition Document which outlines the requirement in operational terms and briefly describes the present capabilities determined on the basis of the existing equipment, manpower etc. This</p><p style="text-align: justify;">document should also indicate long term requirement in terms of numbers, time schedule, immediate fund availability and the critical technologies to be absorbed by Indian partner. The critical technologies will be identified in consultation with DRDO. The Capability Definition Document would be floated to Indian firms who are known to have requisite technical and financial capabilities to undertake such projects. These Indian firms will be short-listed on the basis of the responses to RFI and through interaction with representatives of industry association by SHQ through HQ IDS. The Indian firms would be required to give a Detailed Project Proposal which will outline the roadmap for development and production of the item either by themselves or with the help of any production arrangement with foreign manufacturer. The production arrangement must be clearly spelt out giving details of the workshare, ToT (Transfer of Technology) in range and depth of the technology, and any other detail considered important/relevant. The Indian partner should absorb the critical technologies.</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>&ldquo;Request for Proposal (RFP) - Tender documents</strong></p><p style="text-align: justify;">The RFP will be a self-contained document that will enable vendors to make their offer after consideration of full requirements of the acquisition. This will be applicable for all acquisitions. It will generally consist of four parts as under: -<br />(a) &nbsp; &nbsp;The first part elaborates the general requirement of the equipment, the numbers required, the time frame for deliveries, the environmental parameters for functioning, conditions of usage and maintenance, requirement for training, Engineering Support Package (ESP), Offset obligations (if applicable) and warranty/guarantee conditions, etc. It specifies the prescribed procedure and last date and time for submission of offers.<br />(b) &nbsp; &nbsp;The second part of the RFP incorporates the SQRs describing the technical parameters of the proposed equipment in clear and unambiguous terms. In case equipment is being procured for the first time and needs to be evaluated, the RFP includes the requirement of field evaluation on a &ldquo;No Cost No Commitment&rdquo; (NCNC) basis. Compliance of offers would be determined only on the parameters spelt out in the RFP.<br />(c) &nbsp; &nbsp;The third part of the RFP outlines the commercial aspects of the procurement, including clear statements on Payment Terms, Performance-cum-Warranty Guarantees &amp; Services thereon to be performed by the supplier. It also includes standard contract terms along with special contractual conditions, if any.<br />(d) &nbsp; &nbsp;The fourth part of the RFP defines the criteria for evaluation and acceptance, both in terms of technical and commercial contents. A format will be enclosed for submission along with commercial offer to facilitate preparation of Comparative Statement of Tenders (CST) and identification of Lowest (L1) vendor. Submission of incomplete format enclosed along with commercial offer will render the offer liable for rejection.</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>TOT aspects in RFP/Bid to submit</strong></p><p style="text-align: justify;">In cases where TOT (Transfer of Technology from a foreign manufacturer) is involved, the RFP would include the requirement for license-production under TOT. The RFP should spell out the requirements of TOT in range and depth of the technology required. These could cover technology for repair and overhaul, production from Completely Knocked Down (CKD) /Semi Knocked Down (SKD) kits and production from raw material and component level. Consequent to issue of RFP, a number of queries relating to the RFP may be raised by the vendors. It should be ensured that all the queries are answered in an acceptable time frame so that the vendors are able to submit their techno-commercial offers on due date. If necessary, a pre-bid meeting of all the vendors may be invited by the user directorate along with representatives from Weapons Equipment Dte/ACNS (P&amp;P)/ACS (Plans), Technical Managers and Finance Managers. The clarifications should be given in writing to all the vendors by the Technical Managers. However, it should be ensured that the parameters of RFP (SQRs) should not be changed/ amended at this stage. Cases involving clarifications regarding the TOT aspects would be dealt by the Production Agency in a similar manner.</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>Opening of the offers/bids</strong></p><p style="text-align: justify;">The offers received should be opened on the notified date &amp; time, by the members of a committee chaired by the Technical Manager, in the presence of the bidders or their authorised representatives, as may choose to be present. The committee will open the envelope containing the sealed technical and commercial offers. The technical offer will be opened by the committee and sent to SHQ for evaluation by a Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC) and the sealed envelope containing the commercial bid will be sent to the Acquisition Manager, unopened. Offers which do not conform to the prescribed procedure for submission of offers or which are received after the scheduled time for submission of offers, and unsolicited offers will not be entertained. Notwithstanding the above, situations may arise in which it may be appropriate to extend the time allowed for submission of offers. The extension so granted should not exceed a period of eight weeks from the original date of submission of offers. Extension of only four weeks could be given by the DG(Acquisition) and for further extension of four weeks, the proposal with justification should be submitted to Raksha Mantri (Defence Minister) on file for approval.</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC)</strong></p><p style="text-align: justify;">A TEC will be constituted by the SHQ for evaluation of the technical bids received in response to RFPs, with reference to the QRs, under an officer from the SHQ. It will include, apart from the representatives of the user service and maintenance agency, representatives of QA. In addition, in cases where TOT is involved, TEC will also include representatives of PA and DRDO, as deemed necessary. The TEC will examine the extent of variations/ differences, if any, in the technical characteristics of the equipment offered by various vendors with reference to the QRs and prepare a &lsquo;Compliance Statement&rsquo; short listing the equipment for trials/ induction into service, as applicable. TEC will also examine compliance of vendors to provisions of RFP. Non-compliance of a vendor to any of the provisions in this Annexure would lead to rejection of his bid at this stage. Cases where TOT for maintenance infrastructure to an Indian Public/Private firm is sought, the TEC will examine the joint compliance of the OEM and the Indian entity for establishing the required maintenance infrastructure as laid down in the RFP. While preparing the compliance statement, the TEC will ensure that the same equipment has not been offered by two or more vendors. In such an eventuality, the equipment offered by the OEM will only be accepted. The TEC may invite the vendors for technical presentations/ clarifications on technical issues. A technical offer, once submitted, should not be materially changed subsequently. However, minor variations which do not affect the basic character/ profile of the offer may be acceptable. The following must be ensured:-<br />(a) An opportunity for the revision of minor technical details should be accorded to all vendors in an equal<br />measure to ensure fair play. (b) No extra time to be given to any vendor to upgrade his product to make it SQR compliant. (c) No dilution of SQR is carried out. (d) The original commercial quote submitted earlier must remain firm and fixed.<br />The Director General (Acquisition) will formally accept the report of the TEC on recommendations of the Technical Managers. If at the TEC stage, only one vendor is found complying to all the SQR parameters, then the RFP would be retracted on approval of the Director General (Acquisition). A review of the acquisition scheme would also be carried out by the TEC to derive the causes of such single vendor situation at TEC stage and details would be brought out in its report. The RFP would be reissued with the approval of DG (Acq)/Vice Chiefs of Service Headquarters/DG ICG, as the case may be, after taking suitable corrective measures including reformulating SQRs.</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>Provisions for Offsets in the DPP &amp; DOFA involvement:</strong> For Bidders&rsquo; awareness</p><p style="text-align: justify;">These offset provisions will apply to all Capital Acquisitions categorized as &lsquo;Buy (Global)&rsquo;, i.e. outright purchase from foreign/Indian vendor, or &lsquo;Buy and Make with Transfer of Technology&rsquo;, i.e. purchase from foreign vendor followed by Licensed Production, where the estimated cost of the acquisition proposal is ` 300 crore or more. A uniform offset of 30% of the estimated cost of the acquisition in &lsquo;Buy (Global)&rsquo; category acquisitions and 30% of the foreign exchange component in &lsquo;Buy and Make&rsquo; category acquisitions will be the minimum required value of the offset. Offset obligations may be discharged only with reference to &ldquo;eligible&rdquo; products and eligible services. The DAC (Defence Acquisition Council) may, after due deliberation, also</p><p style="text-align: justify;">prescribe varying offset percentages above 30% or waive off the requirement for offset obligations in very special cases. Such directions may be made applicable for different classes of cases or for individual cases depending upon the factors involved such as type of acquisition, strategic importance of the acquisition or technology, enhanced ability of Indian defence industry to absorb the offset, export potential generated, etc. However, offset will not be applicable in &lsquo;Option Clause&rsquo; cases where the same was not envisaged in the original contract.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">These provisions will also apply with appropriate modifications to &lsquo;Buy&rsquo; and &lsquo;Buy and Make with TOT&rsquo; components for warship construction where the estimated cost of individual contracts is ` 300 crore or more. In such cases, references to the Acquisition Wing will mean the DDP or shipyard which is building the ship and procuring the system or subsystems. This offset condition will form a part of the RFP and, subsequently, of the contract. Offset conditions as specified in the RFP will be binding. These provisions will not apply to procurements made under Fast Track Procedure. Offsets include FDI in Indian organisations engaged in R &amp; D as certified by Defence Offset Facilitation Agency (DOFA). While certifying, DOFA shall not consider civil infrastructure and such technologies that are otherwise easily available in the open market. The Indian industries or organisations concerned are here after referred to as the Indian offset partner. The Indian offset partner shall, besides any other extant regulations in force, also comply with the guidelines/licensing requirements issued by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion. The offset obligations are to be fulfilled coterminous with the period of the main contract.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">The functions of &lsquo;Defence Offset Facilitation Agency&rsquo; (DOFA) set up under the DDP as a single window agency are to: (a) Facilitate implementation of the offsets policy (b) Assist potential vendors in interfacing with the Indian industry (c) Assist in vetting offset proposals technically (d) Assist in monitoring the offset provisions<br />(e) &nbsp; &nbsp;Suggest improvements in the policy and procedures (f) Interact with Headquarters Integrated Defence Staff and Service Headquarters (g) Advise, in consultation with the Headquarters Integrated Defence staff, Services and Defence Research and Development Organisation, areas in which offsets will be preferred (h) Promote exports of eligible products and services.</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>Summarising..Quick Tips for Bidding Process: &ldquo;Improving opportunities to secure the bid&rdquo;</strong></p><p style="text-align: justify;">The following checklist presents some key points to go through when preparing the tender submission. Get to know this for a clear finish-line.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">(i) &nbsp; &nbsp;Have you targeted the best opportunities? : Participating in tender processes can involve substantial costs with no guarantee of success. Take the time to determine whether each opportunity is potentially rewarding and cost-effective to pursue, based on whether you have a reasonable chance of winning the business.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">(ii) &nbsp; &nbsp;Do you understand all the requirements? It may sound simple, but be sure to read the tender documents carefully, highlight key points, and seek clarification from the agency-contacts if you are uncertain about any issue. For example, are you required to quote prices inclusive or exclusive of Goods and Services Tax? Have you brought out NRE and RE separately as requested? Have you carried out the amortization as required? Have you specified the price variation clause? So on ..</p><p style="text-align: justify;">(iii) &nbsp; &nbsp;Have you attended any briefing offered? To be fully informed, whenever an industry-briefing is offered, make every attempt to attend. Industry briefings provide an opportunity to ask questions and understand the process in depth. They allow you to make direct contact with the agency- representative in charge of the tender process.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">(iv) &nbsp; &nbsp;Have you planned the tender and allowed plenty of time to meet the deadline? Late tenders will not be accepted, so make sure you know where and when the tender must be lodged. If you need to form a consortium or engage sub-contractors to complete the work, be sure to allow others enough time to provide input into the tender submission. Make the proposal complete with all compliance- requirements done and uniqueness brought out wherever applicable and possible.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">(v) &nbsp; &nbsp;Is the response straightforward and to the point? There is no standard format for tender responses&mdash; they vary depending on the nature and complexity of the procurement. However, you will always need to complete any mandatory forms and follow suggested formatting style or templates and schedules provided. The tender will be evaluated on content, not on extravagant presentation. It is also a good idea to use simple, straightforward language and keep to the point.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">(vi) &nbsp; &nbsp;Have you addressed all mandatory conditions for participation and evaluation criteria? It is extremely important to demonstrate that you comply with all specified conditions for participation, and that you address all the evaluation criteria and any other specified requirements. Make sure you can comply with the terms and conditions of the draft contract. Remember, if you do not address the evaluation criteria, there is no point in submitting a tender response.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">(vii) &nbsp; &nbsp;Have you demonstrated value for money? Value for money is the key consideration of government agencies. Price is obviously important, but so too are service standards, quality, performance and whole-of-life costs. Always bid competitively the first time; you will probably not be given a chance to improve the offer later in the process. Equally, don&rsquo;t underprice to win the work, assuming you will be able to extend the value of the contract or increase the price once the contract is signed&mdash;you will be expected to hold to the price you have quoted. Therefore, build the &lsquo;Sustainable Competitive Advantage&rsquo; in the pricing.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">(viii) &nbsp; &nbsp;Have you emphasised what sets you apart from your competitors? Think about how you would evaluate your tender against the evaluation criteria if you were the official responsible for assessing tender responses. You may wish to emphasize areas where you exceed the requirements, and where you feel you can add value for the agency. Your tender will usually be competing against several alternative proposals; so be sure to clearly identify potential points of difference from your competitors and factors of uniqueness.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">(ix) &nbsp; &nbsp;Have you submitted your bid on time? Agencies cannot accept your bid if it is submitted after the deadline, unless the delay is due solely to mishandling by the agency. It is therefore vital that your bid is submitted by the deadline for consideration.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">(x) &nbsp; &nbsp;What if you don't win the work? Of course, not all tender responses can be successful, no matter how good they are. However, the experience of an unsuccessful tender should not be a signal to give up on doing business with government. Rather, consider an unsuccessful tender process as a chance to learn and improve your offering for the next business opportunity.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">(xi) &nbsp; &nbsp;Will you attend &lsquo;Tender debriefings&rsquo; if &amp; when held? Debriefing sessions are an important part of any tender process. The primary purpose of a debriefing is to enable potential suppliers to submit more competitive bids in the future. They can be a valuable source of information on the strengths and weaknesses of your tender and help you prepare better responses to future tenders. Remember that you may have other opportunities to do business with the same agency in the future. Take a positive approach to the debriefing, and treat it as an opportunity to continue to build your relationship with the agency.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">(xii) &nbsp; &nbsp;Do you have concerns or complaints? After a tender process is over, you may have concerns that it was in some way flawed or the evaluation was inaccurate or unfair. Such concerns can stem from poor communication, leading to some misunderstandings or misconceptions about aspects of the tender process. For this reason, it is always a good idea to raise your concerns informally with the agency before making a formal complaint.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">(xiii) &nbsp; &nbsp;Have you determined to protest? Ask for a tender debrief. Use RTI provisions. But think well before you do. The feedback and information provided at the debriefing session may help to alleviate your concerns, and the meeting will give you an opportunity to raise specific questions with the people responsible for running the tender process. If, after the tender debrief, you would like to follow up and protest on any particular issue, the agency responsible for the procurement process is always your first point of contact. Approaching the tender contact officer informally will often prove sufficient; but if you are unsatisfied with the response, you can put up your concerns in writing to the agency&rsquo;s Chief Executive/Director/MOD procurement cell for a more formal review. Agencies then typically undertake an internal review of the procurement process, using senior officers not previously involved with the procurement. Be aware, however, that unless there are exceptional circumstances, your challenge is unlikely to change the tender outcome.</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>Conclusion</strong></p><p style="text-align: justify;">The most important and pertinent key-words used in this paper about &ldquo;Mastering the bidding process&rdquo; in a &lsquo;Defence/Govt procurement scenario&rsquo; are : (1) Adapting the style (2) Doing the groundwork (3) Complete professionalism (4) Absolute thoroughness (5) Knowledge, intelligence and wisdom in right measures (6) Mimicking the customer (7) Evaluating competitors (8) Uncertainty management (9) Risk- analyses (10) Price-determination with diligence (11) Handling the &lsquo;Known Unknowns&rsquo; and &lsquo;Unknown Unknowns&rsquo; (12) Subjectivity measurement (13) Pre-tender interactions (14) Supply Chain Awareness (15) Capture of unstated and obligatory requirements (16) Key-evaluation criteria checks (17) Visibility and Conspicuousness (18) Consortium-evaluation and partnerships (19) Just-In-Time Submission (20) Checklist conformance and verification and Last but not the least, most importantly (21) Uniqueness in proposal configuration (22) Sustainable Competitive Advantage in Pricing.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">If only all these key-factors are ensured and maintained by the interested parties in the bidding processes regularly and repetitively, it would then certainly lead such prospective bidders in gaining the requisite mastery over the bidding process in respect of Govt./defence procurement cases.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</p>
KR Expert - Commander Prasad

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