Debriefing after a procurement process is an important chance for reflection and giving feedback to bidders. Follow these 5 tips to ensure you debrief efficiently.
Debriefing respondents after a procurement process can seem a thankless task – and provokes an audible sigh.
This is not because there is no love for the market, it’s because you’ve just come out of a lengthy, action-packed process. A queue of the next million projects to do is staring right at you.
Why should you debrief respondents?
Debriefs are an easy way to add value to future projects. They develop market capability and the capacity of the market to understand you as a buyer. They offer you a chance for self-reflection and learning.
Read on for 5 tips on how to nail debriefs
1. Provide feedback in the outcome letter
The place to start in debriefing respondents is with a general statement of strengths and weakness in the outcome letter you send after the process.
This is often enough for respondents to understand where they lost out. It can save you the time of having to engage with every company who participated in the process. Sometimes some simple, short feedback is all that is needed.
Thank you for submitting your response for [insert project name] opportunity. Your submission has been assessed by an evaluation panel and we are writing to inform you that you have not been successful on this occasion. The panel noted team composition and relevant experience as particular strengths in your response. However, the response lacked evidence in regards to methodology and project timelines. This is critical for us to assess how the outcomes will be achieved.
2. Run a solid process
Following a solid process with structured evaluation and accompanying notes forms the basis of a good debrief. There is little point running around after the process trying to gather information. Good luck trying to get stakeholders engaged to have a conversation about something that is months old!
Tip: when individual evaluators are marking the responses, make sure they are instructed to write statements of strengths and weakness as they go. Also, follow this up in a moderation meeting with the evaluation panel and ask them to summarise one positive and one weakness before moving on to discuss the next supplier.
This will be captured in the minutes. Further down the track any member of your team can access the file and select enough information to create a debrief.
3. Don’t wing it
Have a template and complete it before speaking to a respondent. Two templates are helpful to fill out.
One is a template that guides the conversation with the respondent and is for internal eyes only. The other is a stripped-down version of the same template that can be released to the respondent after the conversation.
So, what should be in it?
- An outline of the process undertaken
- How many responses you received from the market and how many passed the first stage of compliance
- A reminder that the purpose of the debrief is to provide feedback on their response, not an opportunity to relitigate the process that has been undertaken. Feedback provided is based on the respondent’s performance against other responses and not necessarily a direct criticism of them – rather, it’s a statement of how they performed against others
- Where they ranked and what the scores were (removing the names of any other suppliers)
- (Optional) You can include a range of the pricing responses but I tend to just provide the ranking
- How they performed against each evaluation criterion
- The strength and weakness statements from the evaluation panel
- Ask the respondent for feedback on the process and how your company performed
- Remind them of how they can keep an eye out for future opportunities to work with your company
4. Involve the right people
Make sure you choose who to take into the debrief wisely.
For example, the subject matter expert may not have the best social skills. Choose someone who has the right expertise and the right level of authority.
Most respondents are happy to have feedback. It is very rare that I have had aggressive or angry suppliers. The mitigation strategy to combat this is to be prepared and restate that this is not a chance to relitigate the process.
Save time and conduct debriefs over the phone.
5. Don’t forget the winner!
Debrief the successful respondent to ensure they understand what it was about their bid that made them stand out from the crowd.
It helps to build the relationship before the contract is inked.
Recently I was involved in a project in which the financial breakdown with the response was so detailed that it helped to add weight to their response. It helped to evidence that they could back up their claims.
When delivering this news during contract negotiations, it was surprising to the successful company. They said it was extremely valuable for them to understand what we value and the reasons why. They stated it would help their future bids as it improves understanding of the buyer’s viewpoint.
So keep these 5 tips in mind to ensure you deliver swift and effective debriefs to suppliers.