The reference to the McDonald’s website on their packaging, discussed in my recent post, was a further source of frustration with their packaging. I mean, obviously, all of their diners have internet access whilst eating their meals – don’t they?
The appearance of URLs in proposals is often the result of similarly illogical thinking. Evaluators hide away in all sorts of locations where they can find peace and quiet to concentrate on the proposals they’ve received: conference rooms, borrowed offices, peaceful corners of the staff restaurant, on trains, working from home. Precisely the locations where they’re least likely to be hooked up to the internet, in fact.
And even if they did have web access whilst reviewing the document, do you think they’d bother – or would they stay with the flow of the document, whilst forming a sub-conscious view that the bidder was just a tad lazy to leave the customer to do the hard work?
I’d propose that most buyers are likely to ignore the material at these URLs during their first pass, and only check the links much later for the top couple of bidders. So if you really do have to include a URL in your proposal, at the very least provide a synopsis (probably illustrated with screen shots), on the basis that the buyer won’t go there during their initial marking.
The same holds true for other external references – policy papers, brochures, corporate procedures. The evaluators may not read them in full (or at all) when the score your proposal, so give them enough of a summary to ensure that they give you as high a score as possible even if they don’t bother turning to the attachment concerned.
Or maybe, just maybe, in this case the McDonald’s designers were being deliberately obstructive – perhaps they don’t actually want us to see the explanations, but by providing an unusable URL have created the pretence that they do. In which case I’m even less impressed than if I was when I merely thought of them as being a shade incompetent.