How to spot a flawed RFT – fast

A ten-point checklist for busy Procurement Managers

You’re emailed a RFT for approval, and you’ve got very limited time to check it. Sadly, many RFTs that are prepared by so-called seasoned procurement professionals are not well put together – and as a result, they attract poor quality (or no!) responses.

Here’s a handy 10-point checklist that will help you quickly check if the RFT fundamentals will attract good suppliers:

  1. What’s it all about – look for a short summary at the start of the RFT, (no more than a page) that describes the product or service you’re procuring. Putting 60 pages of terms and conditions at the start of your RFT will put off high performing, busy suppliers – so leave them to the end or add them as a link.
  2. Pre-conditions – Are there clear fact-based pre-conditions that will indicate the minimum requirements for tenderers? These should be at the start of the document, so that unsuitable suppliers won’t waste time (yours and theirs!) in responding.
  3. Lowest Price Conforming tenders should NEVER ask for detailed, time-consuming information; which will involve value judgements or scoring. Evidence should be quick to provide and quick to check – e.g. past project names and referee contact details; Health and Safety certificates; insurance certificates.
  4. Pass/ Fail standards on any attributes should be fact-based, not based on an arbitrary score. That way, you won’t waste time or attract probity challenges from suppliers who are unsuitable.
  5. The questions MUST match the evaluation criteria. There should be no evaluation criteria that are not covered with a relevant question; and no questions that don’t directly relate to one of the evaluation criteria.
  6. Weightings – for Price and Non-Price Attributes should be clearly indicated. A good RFT will also indicate clearly what the evaluators will score highly in each attribute. That way, your suppliers know what you’re looking for and give you the evidence you need for scoring.
  7. Weightings below around 10% for a Non-Price Attribute may also be a waste of time. Consider making those factors pass/ fail and tipping their weights into quality aspects that really will drive value.
  8. Weightings should reflect the risk and complexity of the project. As a guide, Non-Price Attribute weightings for Professional Services should usually be no more than 20% - 30%, as the quality of service is generally extremely important. On physical works contracts, any Price weightings more than around 65 will almost certainly deliver the lowest price tender – so in that case, Lowest Price Conforming evaluation should be used.
  9. Non-Price Attribute Questions – should be tailored for the project, not generic. Unsurprisingly, generic questions yield generic answers, and those seldom differentiate suppliers on the value they offer. In general, the attributes and questions should reflect project-specific risks and opportunities to add value. Check if the questions are relevant and specific.
  10. Look for appropriate balance. The information sought in the Non-Price Attributes should not be too onerous, given the weightings on those attributes. Beware asking for too much or loading risk or uncertainty onto suppliers. In today’s busy contracting environment, the canny suppliers will price in those risks, tag them out, or – worst of all – they’ll not bother bidding.

The fairer, more relevant and more user-friendly your RFT documents, the better responses you’ll get and the better value for money you’ll deliver.

If your RFT documentation doesn’t tick these boxes, or if you’d like an honest appraisal and some suggestions on how to improve the attractiveness of your RFTs to your best suppliers, please contact caroline.boot@cleverbuying.com or 021 722 005. We’re ready to help; and we have simple, user-friendly, compliant RFT and Response documents that are ready to roll.