Tenders have long been used as the sole method of procuring goods and services by most companies. Whether done to ensure transparency or to simply maximize the benefits of competition, tenders are arguably the most effective mode of procuring. Browsing through any newspaper on any weekday, one is sure to find tenders ranging from supply of office supplies to construction of bypasses. In part due to tradition, most companies repeatedly use newspapers as the sole mode of posting tenders.
Over the years, the tendering process has remained unchanged as well slow in its transition to a web-centered modus operandi. Given the advancement in web technology, one can argue that a traditional newspaper is no longer the ideal mode for dealing with tenders in part due to the following shortcomings:
- The cost of posting a single entry on a single-day newspaper is in the range of $200.00. This amount is not only prohibitive for most small companies, but also a newspaper is
- highly untargeted in that you broadcast to an entire nation in the hope that your ideal readers will see your tender. Furthermore,
- communications following the posting of the tender are equally prohibitive because companies are compelled to utilize the same medium to provide addendums, corrections or cancellations. With each correction, then a,
- series of letters are usually necessary to ensure that all bidders are similarly advised.
While newspaper-posted tenders provide newspaper companies with an almost guaranteed revenue stream, to the end user, the process remains old-fashioned and ineffective. Unnecessarily so given that tendering would have with far-reaching benefits if entirely performed through a website. Here is why:
Not even discussing the obvious benefits such as reduction in cost, reduction in paperwork, global and twenty-four hour access to tenders, etc, an adequately optimized tenders management website would enable the following;
- A wider more diverse group of bidders given the wider reach;
- More informed bidders through access to real-time information;
- Ease in managing and communication with bidders,
- Opportunities for long term business growth through embrace of technology; and most importantly
- With the advancement in technology, it would now be easy to send instant updates either via emails, smses or desktop alerts. So you have a last minute change of submission time, the client simply updates the tender and the changes are automatically submitted to all interested parties. Try doing that with a newspaper.
Few websites have attempted to provide applications for posting tenders. Many have under-delivered. Often driven by a short-sighted need to obtain many fee-paying subscribers, the websites fail to comprehend value of the internet a medium for productive and beneficial collaboration. Luckily, a new website by Touch Web-Services takes a different more interactive approach to tendering. While, tenders.africa is primarily a tenders management website catering to the entire continent, it also provides a platform for involved parties to interact through access to actionable information. One of the unique features of tendersafrica.com is the supplier, contractor and client pages which allow companies to showcase details about their company. In these pages, companies are at liberty to provide pertinent details that describe their company and the goods and services. A client on the other hand has the ability to post tenders and solicit bids from other companies. So, tendersafrica.com is essentially an online marketplace for productive interacting with all parties involved in a tender.
Case in point
So if a particular client is preparing to post a tender on say the construction of a bypass in Juba, all they have to do to review the contractors registered and determine which ones are best suited for the job. Once the tender been posted, the client can invite these contractors to review the tender. The contractors and the clients can then communicate though the Tender Messaging System (TMS) on any request for clarifications, status changes, change of scope etc.
Design and Usability
The website is design with the end user in mind, providing and easy to use interface. Best of all, the website is free to join and access tenders. They are currently in beta phase until the end of the year, during which time they make community-upgrade changes on their website so as to be able to cater to the varying types of tenders and register as many companies as possible.
Kenneth Kabaki is the founder and lead designer of TendersAfrica.com. He is a civil engineer by profession. Tender.Africa is his contribution to the future development of Africa.