If you’ve ever taken a look at a procurement platform, where hundreds or thousands of tenders or notices can be listed at any given time across dozens of industries, you will know that finding the right business opportunities is a time consuming process. The results are often mediocrely qualified tenders that, though not a blatant mismatch, may still not be opportunities worth pursuing.
In this article, we’ll explore the problems with today’s procurement monitoring and what a better alternative looks like.
Today’s search results are based on notices, not documents
Traditional procurement monitoring platforms are limited in what you can search for and how. The search tool is restricted to basic keywords, or to common search parameter settings: CPV codes, NUTS codes, or regions. The search results are based on procurement titles, notices, or short descriptions only.
So what makes these limitations problematic? How is procurement monitoring affected by search results from procurement titles, short descriptions or notices?
In short, searches based on the notice provide only a small portion of the information about a procurement. This makes monitoring imprecise, sometimes entirely missing relevant procurements. Let’s look at the main problems with searches based on the notice.
Problem 1: Tender notices are not designed for effective monitoring
It’s important to keep in mind that a tender description and the tender itself are two separate things. A procurement’s short description is actually something that a procurer handles separately from the main tender, instead acting as a metatext used to report the procurement to the EU, or other regulatory or procurement aggregate sources. The description is thus often independent of the procurement opportunity itself, and rarely constitutes the actual content found within the related procurement documents.
But in procurement monitoring, it is often the tender documents that are of interest, and not the tender notice, short description, or title. Suppliers want to quickly be able to identify: what, precisely, is being requested for each procurement opportunity – rather than sifting through documents to uncover this information at a later date.
Problem 2: Procurers aren’t the best judges of what the suppliers want to monitor
There are procurers who do spend a lot of time writing detailed descriptions, capturing each keyword that may be relevant to bidders, and even crafting the announcement title in a careful and thoughtful way to generate the most amount of responses.
But all too common are tenders with vague titles, so much so that they might only note that the opportunity concerns “IT services” or “consultants needed”. Large and complex procurements can also often be summarised in short descriptions spanning only a few brief lines. While frustrating for bidding teams, from the buyer’s perspective it is rather understandable, as procurement managers are given limited space to disclose and describe what can be vast amounts of information. They may also struggle to understand precisely what information is relevant to each potential respondent.
These limitations mean that too often, procurement monitoring and tender evaluations need to rely on a high degree of chance and guesswork, where vague information might translate to wasted time and resources. In a market where procurers are fully in control of tender information, and where vague or lacking descriptions are commonplace, insufficient search tools only make matters worse.
Problem 3: Bidders spend too much time on irrelevant procurements
At present, bidding teams spend a lot of time and effort on evaluating the relevancy of potential procurement opportunities. With limited information in titles and tender notices, determining whether the supplier is qualified requires going through the tender documents. These can be extensive and difficult to get a good overview of, and so bidders might spend valuable time and resources on tenders that end up not being valid opportunities. Minimising the time it takes to determine whether a procurement is relevant is incredibly important for efficient bidding processes, yet unfortunately difficult to accomplish with today’s search tools.
Problem 4: Suppliers risk missing out on relevant procurements – especially those in niche markets
Searches based on tender notices or short descriptions, rather than on related tender documents, return far less information. The consequence of this is that all suppliers risk missing out on suitable tenders, but especially so suppliers that offer niche products or services.
For example, a supplier that only provides IT consultancy services written in the code language Python might spend a lot of time reviewing and evaluating tenders which, from the title or short description, might indicate that the opportunity is relevant. Yet, when the supplier reviews the actual tender documents, they may find that the tender actually requests a far wider range of “IT services” than the supplier can provide – in other words, wasted time. But if keyword search results also were to include results retrieved from tender documents, the supplier would be informed of the opportunity’s scope far earlier in the tender process, improving efficiency and bid relevancy.
General descriptions also make it difficult to catch procurements that have an unexpected CPV-code or where niche competences are needed as part of a larger procurement. For subcontractors, it can be next to impossible to find all relevant procurements using traditional monitoring.
What’s the solution, then?
Today’s procurement monitoring is flawed and inefficient. But of course, there’s a better way. Let’s take a look at the solution: AI-driven search based on the full procurement documents. It’s a functionality Tendium currently offers to select markets, that is in the pipeline to roll out for all Tendium users.
Search the procurement documents – cover the entire procurement
The alternative to monitoring based on tender notices is a search tool based on information in the full tender documents. It makes searches formerly impossible suddenly easy to make.
The beauty of public procurement (which separates it from business in the private sector) is that the tender documents constitute the entire procurement. In other words, everything that needs to be procured must be fully documented and requested as part of the tender process and documentation. In essence, everything that a supplier to the public sector needs to know is stated in the tender documents or on the procurement portal.
By applying keyword searches to also include tender documents, suppliers are better informed as to what a tender opportunity might actually regard, and for example; if any particular framework is mentioned; what the opportunities submission requirements are; or any particular certifications that a supplier must possess. When keyword search results better match the documents, suppliers are more likely to identify if the context of the tender is relevant or not, and gain a comprehensive understanding of the tender far earlier in the bidding process.
The Document Keyword Search tool is currently available in select markets. Our customers get a more comprehensive and precise monitoring, allowing them to spend less time in the qualifying stage, while at the same time decreasing the risk of missing relevant tenders. That’s a standard we believe our customers deserve.