“Responders are invited to attend the opening of bids.” Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? If you haven’t been to a bid opening, this might conjure up images of a red carpets, various dignitaries, maybe a celebrity or two, the press standing by and flashbulbs popping.* If you have attended a bid opening, your experience was probably a bit different than this.
Based on this, I’ve been inclined not to attend bid opening (unless they happened to be close by and it was convenient for me to attend (or they were in a city wished to visit).
My thinking on this has changed, based on an experience one of our clients had recently. Here’s the story (there’s always a story, right?)
For this particular RFP, submitting the documents, for all the usual reasons, came down to the very last minute (big surprise, right?). In order to ensure the document would be submitted on time, two members of the team drove to the client (some 6+ hours away), while the rest of the team worked away. The document was then sent to a printer near the client and the two team members put the documents together there. (This was Plan C, necessitated by a combination of a printer which kept acting up and a heavy snowstorm that threatened to keep planes from flying.).
The two members then delivered the document to the client (with minutes to spare). The bid opening was scheduled for an hour later and, since they were already there, they decided to attend the bid opening. This would prove to be a very good decision!
At this particular bid opening, the activities were as I described above – documents were acknowledged, counted, etc. But then, quite surprisingly and in my experience, quite unusually, the client offered to allow those in attendance – drum roll here – to review ALL of the responses. Yep…you read that right. My client was allowed to sit and review the responses submitted by their competitors. As my client was quick to point out, “This was worth the long drive, the extra effort, time away from home, etc. The information we gleaned from our competitor’s documents will be incredibly valuable to us for future bids.
So as you might expect, I am now an advocate for always attending bid openings.
*As to ‘flash bulbs popping’. I came across this phrase in an article in the newspaper recently and found it most distracting. After all, when’s the last time someone used flashbulbs, much less heard them pop? (While our readers who are near my age will certainly recall flashbulbs – perhaps in a Kodak Brownie or in your Polaroid Swinger - I suspect many of our younger proposal folks have never even seen a flashbulb.