Part of my role as a Training Coordinator at Training South West is to tender for training contracts within the Dorset, Cornwall, Devon and Somerset areas. Although the initial documentation phase can be rather painful at times, a number of businesses use this phase as a basis to select companies who perform well against criteria to take part in a subsequent face to face process. I really enjoy this part of the process as it provides a fantastic opportunity to increase my exposure to the diverse range of South West businesses and I’ve met some really interesting people because of it.
Having considerable experience commissioning HR services in a buyer capacity, I can honestly say that I far prefer being on the bidding side of the table. My experience of running tender processes is that it’s hard work, demanding and extremely time consuming.
Plus, let’s be honest, the documentation submission phase never makes exciting reading! This phase resolutely erases personality and human dynamic and instead presents the buyer with pure operational data coupled with criteria descriptions and weightings. Analysing huge numbers of responses can result in buyer apathy for even the most committed people.
Having been through a detailed analysis of the initial phase and selected a number of those who meet the criteria, is not unusual for buyers to view a potential face to face phase as the ‘finish line’ without even sufficiently preparing; with an obvious impact on question quality and focus. On a personal front, I’d always suggest that businesses appoint a staff member with no involvement in the initial stages to help frame and deliver this phase as this keeps the momentum and energy going and helps ensure the business makes the right decisions.
One of the most effective ways of establishing questions to be used during the face to face phase is to speak to as many internal users of training services as possible. Whether previous training delegates from across the organisation or Managers who have actively identified and overseen the delivery of training needs, these individuals will all have a view on what they believe works well for the organisation and areas which have maybe not worked so well. Get as much feedback as possible as this will generate detailed insights into a broad spectrum of perspectives which will undoubtedly yield areas of relevant focus. Consider also reviewing the long term impacts of previous training courses. In what way did the courses impact the organisation? Was there sufficient follow up? Was there a strategy in place to ensure that key learnings were further consolidated upon return to the office?
It may also be beneficial to draw upon your local business network to establish additional additional themes with which to discriminate between training providers. Since the training industry is constantly evolving, so too are the questions being asked of them.
In the meantime, here are some questions which I have either asked or been asked: