The Magazine for Underwater Professionals
Contract pre-qualification and tendering in the diving industry
An interesting and sometimes frustrating observation made when tendering for business in this industry is the often significant cost incurred by contractors (many of whom are relatively small with limited administration support although extremely competent to undertake the work).
Most companies often have to complete large pre-qualifying documents with totally irrelevant or unnecessary questions even though they operate UKAS ISO management systems, and are registered and audited with the industry likes of CHAS, Achilles and a large number of other certifying bodies.
Often sample documentation is required at pre-qualification stage, then over-detailed documentation is requested at tender stage. Perhaps clients could look into requesting outline methods, etc., at tender stage, with detailed procedures to be produced only after the tender award is likely to be offered to the successful contractor.
Tenders and pre-qualification questions should be specific and relevant to the contract and not general for all types of supplier to the employing client.
Tenders should be limited to no more than six suitable contractors, especially if the project involves a lot of design input at tender or large Bill of Quantities to complete.
Clients should think about the number of meetings required and plan to minimise these as well as planning any required meetings to minimise travel and overnight stays.
Travel can sometimes be minimised if the client actually travels to a location more central to the meeting attendees.
Clients should always think about a more productive way of working, i.e. can the required information be obtained by telephone or conference calls? A one-hour meeting in a client’s office can often take up to two days of a contractor’s time and hundreds of pounds in travel and accommodation expenses.
Changing a meeting from 0930 to 1200 might save meeting attendees having to travel the day before and a night in a hotel.
Site visits and pre-tender meetings can often be co-ordinated together to save the contractor having to make multiple visits.
Tenders should always have sufficient tender period – ideally a minimum of four weeks with the contractor (often contractors are given 10 to 14 days when the client and consultants have taken months to issue the tender). This should hopefully ensure quality, detailed responses.
Clients should issue drawings and documents to the tenderer in paper and electronic form, so that contractors do not have the expense of printing large drawings only to be unsuccessful with their tender.
Clients should always give tender responders relevant feedback on their tenders with a list of tendering companies in alphabetical order and a list of prices received in price order so that each tenderer can see how they performed (this helps with future pricing).
Nowadays, most red tape does not appear to come from government organisations, but from corporate business and clients. It is important for all clients to review their internal procedures and processes and ask what is actually required to ensure a contractor is suitable and competent.
Taira Caton, ADC Secretary