tips to win tenders

6 steps to get higher bid scores

“Think before you start” is an invitation to vendors to prepare themselves better before applying to a (Best Value) tender. Know what your strengths are, be sure that you can substantiate this and identify what you are not good at. The result is a performance-oriented organization that gets higher scores in tenders. Below we briefly explain these benefits and show you how to achieve this in simple steps.

Knowing what you are good at and what not, is all about making choices.

This means that you do not try to do everything, or a little bit of everything, but clearly identify a fit between your strengths and specific clients. We call this your proposition. If you have a clear proposition, then it is easier for you to distinguish between tenders that are not suitable for you and those that are. It will increase your scoring opportunity and hit rate for tenders and your projects become more successful because you focus mainly on projects that have a fit with your key strengths. Or in Best Value terminology: Your expertise fits the client’s objectives, you are able to take responsibility and execute the project successfully and profitably.

In practice we see that in tenders vendors find it difficult to take on the expert role.

Most of the time the applied motto is “the client asks, we deliver”. In addition, the vendor assumes that every client’s request is unique. We experience the opposite. For example: the majority of clients who tender for a construction project want it to be as energy-durable as possible, executed with the least possible nuisance to local residents and having a high level of user satisfaction after completion. If these client objectives are general, it is therefore not necessary for the vendor to reinvent his proposition with each tender. A Best Value vendor should analyze the client objectives and determine what value he can add, knowing his proposition, before tenders come in.

Tips to improve your bid score

Below we present 6 steps that lead to a proposition that can be used for Best Value tenders and in any tender, to improve your scores:

  1. Determine the strengths of your organization / products and which partner expertise is utilized
  2. Divide your clients into client segments based on corresponding client characteristics
  3. Make a list of the most common objectives per client segment (max 8)
  4. Link your strengths to the client objectives: the performance statements and proposition
  5. Search within the client segment for metrics / performance information that supports the claims (start tracking performance if there are none)
  6. Make an overview of all objectives and substantiated performance statements that can be used in the selection of the most suitable tenders and answering them

Implementation advice

We have guided various organizations in different industries (like IT and construction) through these steps to come up with a proposition, a set of performance statements per client segment. The most challenging part of this was making the dominant strengths of the own organization concrete. These organizations are satisfied with the result, the overview of dominant strengths that defines the quality of the organization and the value that it provides, in concrete terms, for their customers. Their tender process has become simpler, efficient and effective. In particular the definition of performance and the search for metrics and performance information has improved. It has led them to get higher scores on bids in tenders.

Do you also want to get better scores on bids in tenders? And get started to define a proposition for your organization or products? Do you want to be guided through the steps successfully? Contact us.


Fact-based purchasing

Developments in technology and information systems increasingly focus on eliminating thinking and the associated decision-making (fact-based). Mobile phones can increasingly take over tasks from our memory and thinking processes. Robotics, for example, not only increasingly take over repetitive tasks from humans, but can even perceive the environment and, based on these observations, make independent choices to perform certain actions with the help of sensors. These developments are fuelled by a need to achieve the highest possible performance while minimising risks, by means of processes that are as efficient as possible. Fact-based purchasing is in its earliest stages.

Purchasing still makes decisions based on cost savings

Despite the above developments, we are seeing that most business sectors are still characterised by traditional control principles. Thinking, decision-making and use of influence and control are still dominant. These traditional principles are also reflected in purchasing when selecting suppliers and cooperation partners, where an efficient process, high performance and minimising risks are important.

The majority of organizations in Europe and North America also continue to make purchasing decisions based on cost savings. In addition to the legality issue, which mainly affects public authorities, this is still the driving force behind many purchasing organisations, both in the private and public sector.

Of course, this approach is beneficial in the short term. But on a strategic level, it won’t work. Especially for government organizations, it is important that purchasing takes on a more strategic role and, in addition to savings and legitimacy, focuses more on efficiency and delivering added value. Fact-based purchasing helps with this.

Selecting potential suppliers based on their actual expertise and performance

Developments in the field of digitization and big data mean that fact-based purchasing will be one of the most important developments for purchasing in 2019: Purchasing on the basis of objective figures and data. Now fact-based purchasing may not sound like a super trend to many readers, but ask yourself this: Are performance and risk really part of all your purchasing decisions? Are potential suppliers truly selected on the basis of their actual expertise and performance? And if so, are the actual expertise and performance related to the (strategic) goals of the organization?

The Best Value selection process offers you the opportunity to make the step to fact-based purchasing and to actually start selecting on the basis of actual performance and expertise.

Would you like to know more about the Best Value selection process or what else the Best Value approach has to offer you? Please contact us.



Co-creation: purchasing offers added value

One of the most important purchasing trends for 2019 is co-creation. Because tomorrow’s purchasing is about more than just lowering prices. Or securing goods and limiting risks. Modern purchasing’ focuses on creating added value for the organisation.

Co-creation is about the joint development and delivery of products, services or systems.  With the combined efforts of all stakeholders involved. This means that purchasing will seek cooperation with its most important suppliers.

Co-creation offers great opportunities for purchasing

Co-creation offers great opportunities for purchasing to put themselves on the map and to create real added value for the organisation. First of all, purchasing can demonstrate its added value in identifying and selecting the right party with which you want to shape the co-creation. This is obviously crucial for a successful co-creation. As a buyer, you guide your internal clients in defining what such a party has to meet.

It is then crucial to create an environment in which this co-creation is optimally achieved, can flourish and offers added value for both parties. Here, too, purchasing can provide significant added value for the organisation by creating an environment in which cooperation principles, starting points and the way in which to act in specific situations are clear to all those involved.

Purchasing monitors the added value for co-creators

The co-creation itself is then about the joint harmonisation of goals, performance and KPIs (including any desired price reduction). The strategies of the co-creators must be coordinated in this respect. Purchasing also plays a crucial role here: as a process supervisor, we coordinate, safeguard and monitor the cooperation principles and starting points and ensure that there is added value for both co-creators.

The principles and starting points of the Best Value approach fit in seamlessly with the goal and the intended collaboration of co-creation. As an organisation, you want co-creators who are involved, who think in terms of win-win and common interest, who feel responsible, who act proactively and who contemplate what they are doing. The Best Value selection process is the ideal tool to identify and select co-creators. The Best Value principles and principles form the basis for creating an optimal co-creator environment.

Do you want to know what possibilities Best Value offers for identifying co-creation partners? Or for setting up an optimal co-creation environment and cooperation?

Please contact us.



Supplier performance versus the Trojan horse paradigm

What does the Trojan Horse Paradigm have to do with supplier performance?

When starting a tender for the first time, there is a good chance that you will find something that will not result in the best supplier performance. A fearful and hostile attitude of the project team…

All the suppliers are bad and are cheating on you before your very eyes!

This conviction results in the project team ‘sealing’ everything in the tender documents in order to prevent poor supplier performance in the future. By setting minimum requirements, no more space is left to the supplier. The effect on the other side of the table is that suppliers, logically, respond to all requirements in the affirmative. They promise everything to get the job done.

The Trojan Horse Paradigm

Compare it to the Trojan Horse. On one side of the wall, the supplier who presents himself as more appealing than he actually is, and on the other side, the client with the fear of not knowing what he is getting.

This mechanism is self-sustaining. The more fear of being cheated, the more fear of uncertainty about what is coming in. This leads to more rules, requirements and conditions. And to increasingly attractive offers from suppliers. A bad experience in the past with lagging supplier performance is causing people to go in the wrong direction more and more. Had experience with disputes about extra work? Or with projects that have raised legal issues, cost an awful lot and failed to deliver the expected quality? There is a good chance that the client will draw up even more rules in a subsequent tender, in an attempt to have more grip and control and to prevent poor supplier performance the next time.

But what do we actually want as a client? Every client is looking for a supplier who is involved, who feels responsible, who is proactive and who thinks about what he is doing. All this is in the interest of the result for the client. So why don’t you, as a client, give it the space it needs to be implemented? Room for supplier performance.

More rules, more conditions and more demands are increasingly driving us in the wrong direction.  In fact, the greater the chance of contracting the wrong supplier!

You get what you ask for. Pure logic

It’s simple logic. You get the supplier you ask for. Suppliers who feel happy in an atmosphere where they don’t have to take responsibility, don’t have to think and don’t have to be responsible for the result will be happy to bid for a tender that is full of requirements, conditions and rules. “You ask, we provide” is the adage of such a supplier.

Tenders that include as few requirements and conditions as possible and that leave as much room as possible for the supplier will deter those suppliers and attract parties who feel comfortable in a situation where they can take responsibility.

Break the circle: give suppliers room to act.

How a client behaves and what approach he takes can be seen in the suppliers of that client. Therefore, as a client or contracting authority, take a look at your suppliers. Are these the suppliers you want? Do they feel responsible for what they have to do? Are they proactive? Or is it a continuous struggle about supplier performance, do you have all kinds of additional discussions, does the contract have to be taken out of the drawer regularly?

Then dare to break that vicious circle! Then move in the opposite direction at the next tender or purchase and include fewer rules and conditions. Give your suppliers room. You’ll see that other suppliers will surface.

Would you like to know more about how the Best Value Approach will lead to better cooperation with suppliers and better results of your projects? Please contact us.


Doing a new tender differently

Does the contract with the supplier you’re not particularly satisfied with expire? And that’s the reason why you’re squabbling with the question of how you’re going to do the new tender differently? Didn’t the last project go as planned? Do you want a different result this time? There’s no such thing as the perfect tender and of course you never have any guarantees. But one thing makes sense: if you do the same thing you did last time, you’ll get the very same results!

More guidance leads to non-performance

What is the natural tendency after a bad project or ineffective contract? To dictate even more in a new tender. And to include even more detailed requirements. This leads to an equally natural reaction from suppliers. Namely to do exactly what the client has written down. With no responsibility and no involvement as a result. And reactive behavior. There is also another danger lurking. In such a new tender, every bidder will offer the same thing. Therefore there is no difference in quality, only in price. The risk of contracting a non-performer is a serious one!

Recognizing expertise leads to selection of high-performers

With the Best Value approach, clients can approach things differently in a new tender. In order to make maximum use of the expertise of suppliers. And above all to create a collaborative environment, where suppliers have overview and take control. And where they feel responsibility and involvement in achieving good results for the client. Following the Best Value selection process in a new tender is an excellent opportunity to recognise expertise. And to be able to distinguish the non-performers from the high-performers.

Would you like to know how this works? And which opportunities the Best Value approach offer you and your organisation? Please contact us.

Penalties or actual results: which one do you choose?

What is the purpose of a penalty clause? In short, the use of a penalty clause has a twofold function. On the one hand, it acts as a stick in terms of compliance with the contract, as an alleged incentive for performance; on the other hand, the penalty clause has a damage-fixing function.

Damage-fixing function

The damage-fixing function of penalties comes into effect in the event that there are no more solutions and compliance is impossible. We won’t get into more detail about that in this blog. When applying fines as referred to here, clients primarily intend the means of control. There are also other rules and regulations governing the fixing of damages or compensation. A third function: ‘political considerations’. In other words, the client’s behaviour is covered. So that when things go wrong, one can show:

Look, I’ve taken a penalty. I’ve done everything I can to ensure proper performance.

Penalties as a stimulus for better performance

What consequences does the inclusion of penalties have for cooperation and performance? The stick to beat is nothing more than a means of control that gives the apparent certainty that the client is controlling and influencing a supplier with it. A false certainty? Sure! Best Value teaches us: ‘There is no control!’ As the picture in this blog shows: No matter how high a penalty is, what a supplier cannat do, he won’t be able to do. A penalty clause is Manage, Direct and Control, with which a client, instead of leaving it to an expert to find a solution, wants to force a supplier to deliver better performance.

Better performance under duress?

You may wonder if someone gets better under the threat of punishment. Would a supplier really run faster because there’s a sword hanging over his head? And if he needs that in order to perform, did you select the right party? In addition, by including penalty clauses, suppliers will bid on a risk basis, with a focus on price and limiting the excess rather than delivering quality and achieving objectives. In this way, you select the contractor who can does this the best instead of the party with the best plan.

Increasing the price

And let’s not fool each other: as a client, you simply pay the penalty yourself. Suppliers carry out a risk analysis beforehand and it is simply included in pricing, as a risk premium or otherwise.

No focus on performance

Furthermore, a penalty will result in the wrong focus at the moment when the focus on the proper execution of the project and achieving a good result is most needed. If a situation arises on which a penalty clause is focused (non-performance), a discussion and fight will always start when applying the penalty; accusing, evasive and negative behaviour. Yet it is precisely in this situation that you need to join forces and work on solutions.

No transparency

And especially in situations where something is not going well, an unexpected event or a risk occurs, you want a supplier that acts transparently and comes up with measures to limit the impact as much as possible. When a fine is hanging over his head, a supplier will initially focus on limiting his own damage and reducing or avoiding liability. He won’t be inclined to be transparent. The inclusion of a fine does not contribute to solving the problem and achieving a good result, but rather ensures non-transparency and thus increases the risk.

Best Value without penalty clause

The use of penalty clauses and bonus-malus clauses to steer and control the supplier is counterproductive to what we aim for in the Best Value approach. Forget the false security of penalty clauses and opt for real performance. In order to actually apply the philosophy of Best Value, we have to let go of all forms of Manage, Direct and Control and go for Listen, Observe and Align (listening, measuring and tuning).

Do you want to know how you can work with suppliers who feel responsible for achieving excellent performance and who operate proactively, without the use of penalty clauses? Please contact us.

How purchasing has the potential to provide more room to sustainability, climate and the environment

Sustainability (or Socially Responsible Procurement SRP) is not a new term in the purchasing industry. Socially responsible procurement means that you use purchasing to achieve more sustainability. And to prevent negative effects on the environment and social aspects.

Climate and environment are business! And purchasing makes little use of it

For many years, sustainability requirements and wishes have been included in tenders to a greater or lesser extent. Often in the form of (minimum) criteria, which are imposed on the bidders by the government / client. For example, the MVI criteria tool was developed on behalf of Rijkswaterstaat, the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. The tool contains purchasing criteria for 45 product groups. And the central government has committed itself to always using these criteria in tenders.

But developments in the field of climate and the environment are not stagnant. And, although initiated by the government, the real leaders in this shift towards sustainable purchasing are the companies. The business community, in cooperation with universities, is constantly working on new solutions and applications. These find their way to the market in no time at all. Innovation in the areas of sustainability, climate and environment has become an important differentiator for organisations in competitive markets. Climate and environment are business!

Purchasing can make better use of the market’s expertise in the field of climate and the environment.

Why do we, as a purchasing organisation, make so little use of innovation? We use criteria that, once established and included in the tool, are in fact already outdated. Wouldn’t it be better to use the expertise of the market in the field of climate and the environment? And offer companies the opportunity to distinguish themselves? The more room is offered, the more it pays for organisations to invest in sustainability. It will only improve the climate and the environment.

The Best Value Approach is aimed at optimising the use and application of expertise from the market. For years, the Best Value Approach has been used worldwide to achieve better results for projects by giving the market maximum opportunity to use their own expertise instead of prescribing how providers carry out their assignments. And therefore an excellent method for getting sustainable and innovative solutions out of the market.

Would you like to know more about how you can optimise your socially responsible purchasing practice with the Best Value Approach? Please contact us.

Misunderstanding: suppliers control risks

A major misunderstanding that we often encounter in practice with suppliers and their clients is the belief that Best Value suppliers should manage project risks. It may seem like a bit of a semantic discussion, however, Best Value suppliers manage mitigation of external risks and that’s really something else! They do this by identifying risks, making them transparent to everyone involved and including preventive management measures in their planning.

The starting point is that expert suppliers have no risks of their own. How does that work?

Minimum scope

Expert suppliers identify risks within and outside the sphere of influence in their project plans. They then reduce or change the scope of their plan in such a way that there are no or hardly any risks within their own sphere of influence and in such a way that the risks outside their own sphere of influence are minimal.  If they are unable to achieve the client’s project objectives as a result, they consider tendering for the tender. If they see risks caused by a lack of information, they estimate the situation to the best of their ability. They make an assumption based on expertise.


The identified non-affective risks are made transparent in such a way that these external risks are clear to all project actors. The risks are minimised by control measures consisting of mitigation steps (activities in time). Suppliers then measure and monitor the external risks they have identified (outside their sphere of influence) and the associated control measures / mitigation steps.

Client pays for risks that have occurred

All events that occur during the execution and cause a deviation from the plan are for the account of the client, not for the supplier. By this we mean risks that have occurred with effect on time and/or money and/or quality. Whether or not the risks that have occurred have been anticipated does not play a role in the financial responsibility. The more risks that have occurred are identified by the suppliers in advance and provided with measures, the better his performance. It goes without saying that suppliers themselves are responsible for mistakes they make themselves.

Defining risk management

The management of the control measures/mitigation steps is done by means of the Weekly Risk Reporting (WRR). In other words, the risk management (administrative function) is laid down in the WRR. It is important that the WRR also contains performance measurements with regard to risk mitigation. The great advantage of this is not only that it has been made transparent for all the actors involved, but also that these measurement data make it possible to improve performance in a subsequent process. This performance measurement prevents discussions with the client and creates learning effects. The information in a subsequent project can also be used as verifiable performance information. And it protects the profit margin of suppliers, since the client is financially responsible if the risks occur. It goes without saying that expert suppliers act in the interest of the customer if a risk occurs. Smart solutions can limit the ‘damage’ to the customer).

Help causes risks

It is in everyone’s interest to help the project actors that cause risks. In the interest of the client because otherwise the result is not optimal and in the interest of the supplier because disruptions to the service do not, at least, contribute to a satisfied client and the project result.

Understanding this principle is very important: Actors or mechanisms that negatively influence the activities, and therefore pro-activity, of suppliers, constitute risks and are the financial responsibility of the customer!

Activities that increase risks

Clients should understand that the following activities have a risk-increasing effect (and will not lead to ‘Best Value’):

  • Asking suppliers to describe their offer in terms of content in the registration form.
  • Asking suppliers to describe their technical competence in their tender.
  • Using the members of the assessment team’s own experience in assessing tenders based on technical preconditions, rather than assessing them on the basis of the included dominant (performance) information.

This blog may seem more focused on suppliers rather than clients. However, it is important for clients to recognise the starting points for mitigating risks. The awareness that the financial risk lies with the client and that the supplier is responsible for the risk management is particularly important. If a client does not sufficiently recognise this, a supplier will be less inclined to be transparent and less inclined to think and act in the interest of the result for the client.

Would you like to know more about how you, as a client, can optimally design and secure risk management within the organisation? Please contact us.

Predicting the outcome before the project starts – it’s possible!


With Best Value Procurement you select and contract the expert supplier who has, in advance, demonstrated to be the best at realising your project objectives with as few surprises as possible during the execution of the project. The theory behind the model is called IMT: Information Measurement Theory.

Key concepts

One of the most important concepts in IMT is the understanding of an event:

  • An event is something that happens that takes time.
  • Each event has initial conditions, the time at which the event takes place and final conditions.
  • The more information you have about the initial conditions, the easier it is to predict the end conditions (= outcome of the event).
  • In theory: if we assume that a single event can have multiple outcomes; what happens as we obtain more information about the event prior to the event?
  • If we are able to get more information about the event before the event takes place, it should be easier to predict what the future of that event will look like.

Therefore: if we would have all the information regarding an event before the event starts, we also know in advance how the event will end.

Of course it is practically impossible to have 100% information about something that has yet to take place, but it is important to understand the concept of gathering critical information about the event prior to the event.

Why is understanding of the ‘event concept’ important and what is the relationship with BVP?

When we look at the purchase of a project (an event), this IMT concept also applies: the more information we gather about expert suppliers before we conclude the contract, the easier it becomes for us to predict the success of the project result in the future.

That is why the following applies here as well: the greatest effort is made before the event (the project) starts, not during the execution, as the initial conditions are already fixed in the execution! Recognizing the expert supplier who has shown to be the best in advance that he or she is likely to be able to achieve your project objectives is the key to success, not ‘managing’ the supplier during the execution.