As I’ve told everyone who has ever asked, charging suppliers to bid is a really bad idea. Not only does it generate ill-will, but as this recent article over on the CPO Agenda that gave tips for understanding why charging suppliers to tender is a bad idea noted, it could even be illegal. But let’s take the tips one-by-one because it seems that this practice, which started rearing its ugly head at the start of the recession, is still trying to push through.
- It is Counter-Productive
It reduces the expressions of interest from time-wasters and quality suppliers alike. This is what goes through the head of a serious bidder with a quality product: “I know my product is quality, and so do my happy customers, so why should I pay $1,000 just for the opportunity to submit a bid? I’m not even guaranteed my product will be evaluated. I’m going to bid on these four other RFxs instead.” So, what you’ll end up with is a set of suppliers who are desparate for your business. But why are they desperate? Maybe their sales team can’t sell worth a damn, or, maybe (and the doctor leans this way) their products just aren’t as good as their competitors, or if they are, they are not able to produce them as cost effectively. Do you really want inferior products or unnecessary premiums for quality?
- Suppliers with No-Pay-To-Play Policies are Out
Not only will you likely knock out most of the quality suppliers in your potential supply base who, while quite willing to bear the costs of providing you with product samples, etc, are not willing to pay just to bid, but you will definitely knock out any supplier with a no-pay-to-play policy that prohibits them from bidding on any contract that requires a bid fee. These could be the best suppliers in the world.
- There’s no Rationale for it
The logic is that it takes time to collect, verify, and analyze a bid, and while this is true, with modern e-RFx / e-Auction software, you can collect, verify the completeness of, and compare a bid to a benchmark in less than a second. You will likely only need to analyze the Top 5, accoring to your weighted metric, in detail at the end of the day. And, since you can now buy unlimited use of these systems for less than what a single project used to cost, it doesn’t cost any more to collect fifteen bids than five bids.
- It is Unethical
There is way too much opportunity for corruption or the perception of favouritism. (In simple terms, you are sending this message: We value suppliers who bribe us for our business.) Plus, there is always a chance that this restriction could be illegal, in breach of fair competitive practices, or public procurement law. Oops! Can you say “class action lawsuit”?
- It Says Your Company Is An Ass
Okay, so the original article said it sends a strong message to the supply base you need to connect with that you are actually uncooperative and uninterested in building a relationship that will benefit both parties, but this sums it up nicely. Unless your organization has a monopoly, and can get away with being a self-centered smug corporate ass, just don’t do it.