Winning the Business

Tendering Beyond 2018

7 key tender trends in the global contracting landscape

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Bidding and tendering are now the most preferred procurement methods worldwide, and they show no signs of slowing down. With that in mind, what organizational and professional competencies should we prepare for beyond 2018?

From its beginnings in transactional material handling to its rise as a strategic asset, bid management plays a catalytic role in shaping agendas for growth and innovation. To bridge the gap between enterprise sales and procurement, bid managers of the future need broader skill sets. Here are seven key trends that will define bid manager competencies this year and into the future.

  1. Corporate Strategy Alignment: The bid/no bid decision has become a strategic issue for CEOs and boards—it shapes their agendas for growth, innovation, and organizational change. Winning or losing a major contract can—and does—make or break a company’s future, with a rippling effect to its people and society. Companies that qualify and align their bid strategies to their core business and growth strategy achieve ongoing superior performance and long-term shareholder value.
  2. Corporate Governance Reform: To improve investor confidence in capital markets, corporate governance overhauls are continuing. Malaysian and Japanese governments are moving to Anglo-American-style corporate governance systems. Bid managers in these regions need to look to the lessons from the more mature markets across the U.K., Europe, Australia, and the U.S. to demonstrate social, regulatory, and market accountability and transparency of their operations.
  3. Market Sounding and Early Engagement: Procurement has moved beyond quotations, vendor payment, and contract management to being increasingly involved very early on in dialogue, feasibility, and co-design with industry and key stakeholders. While the information and communication technology (ICT) and construction industries are accustomed to this level of market engagement, those in the health and human services sectors are now bringing their front-line experience to the table to influence how and where public money can make the most social impact.
  4. People Power and Social Change: Procurement decisions are no longer based solely on the size of a company’s portfolio or its approach to risk. New power is shifting to citizens and employees, and performance is scrutinized by how well a company engages and acts to uphold human rights and effect genuine change. New domestic and family violence policies, consumer-directed care, anti-bribery and anti-slavery reporting, affirmative action, environment, sustainability, and impact on community are the new differentiators.
  5. Proposal Automation and E-Procurement: Bidding and tendering activity have grown tenfold since the global financial crisis. This growth is the result of tighter corporate governance and procurement regulation, spurred on by aging infrastructure and sustained population growth. With procurement and bid management sitting on opposite sides of the same process, it was only a matter of time before this long-distance relationship shifted online to drive efficiencies. Monitoring and reporting key metrics, client experience, and outcomes will become commonplace for winning and retaining business.
  6. Data Protection: The global movement to regulate data protection has led to differing requirements around data breaches. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the latest regulation in the European Union for data protection and privacy of individuals. To ensure compliance, organizations need to plan for, prevent, and respond to real or potential data privacy breaches. The principles of data protection by design and by default will also be taken into consideration in public tenders.
  7. Democratizing Procurement: Tendering is being legislated in some industries and jurisdictions, which is encouraging a more equal playing field and collaboration between large organizations and small to medium enterprises, including those represented in regional, minority, and marginalized groups and communities. Understanding supply chain inclusion policies will show your company is serious about contributing to diversity and the local economy.

The bid/no bid decision has become a strategic issue for CEOs and boards—it shapes their agendas for growth, innovation, and organizational change.

On a macro level, tenders provide great insight into the health of the economy. Yet across the world, public authorities and commercial enterprises are struggling to address pressing social and economic issues in the face of constrained resources, tight budgets, and ineffective legacy systems.

By improving their skills to match emerging trends, bid managers can significantly impact the supply chain by becoming more entrenched at the strategy level than ever before—from policy and compliance to organizational innovation.

Nyree McKenzie is managing director of Thought Bubble, a bid management and strategic communication consultancy, and founder of Bidhive, an end-to-end capture planning, bid management, and RFx response automation platform. She can be reached at

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