Invitation to Tender

Using the Brief to define the client’s requirements, proposals can then be sought through several avenues – direct selection of a single consultant, selected tender, or open tender. Again, the avenue chosen may depend on the size and complexity of the job.

Tendering firms should be advised of the criteria to be used by the client in selecting the successful tenderer and the relative weight to be attached to each of these criteria. Recommended criteria are discussed at 3 below.

Single Consultant

The client may simply invite one consultant to submit a proposal and quotation. This may occur where the client’s prior experience of the consultant, or that of others whose advice the client respects, gives confidence that the consultant is well equipped to carry out the work at a realistic price.

The process is straightforward, but demands a sound knowledge and trust of the consultant by the client or the client’s advisers and a responsible approach by the consultant in the absence of competition.

The client can reserve the right to seek further proposals and quotations if the proposal submitted by the preferred consultant appears inadequate or the price is excessive.

Selected Tender

In this case the client invites a small number (say 2 to 4) to tender.The chosen tenderers may be selected by first inviting expressions of interest through an advertisement. This will provide a brief outline of the nature and objectives of the project and will request a statement of relevant capabilities and experience from those who respond. The client subsequently determines from these the firms that appear most suited to the project.

Alternatively, the client may draw upon his/her own prior experience, or that of others such as government or industry personnel, to select suitable firms.

In either of the above two cases, the ECA Register of Members can assist by facilitating the matching of consultancy firms against the expertise required.

The firms selected through this process are subsequently issued with a copy of the Brief and are invited to respond with a detailed proposal and cost.

The approach has the advantage that consultants will be more interested in tendering as the prospect of being the successful tenderer is very much increased.

From a client’s standpoint, it simplifies the sieving process to select a successful tenderer. Furthermore, if the basis for selecting preferred tenderers is sound, the client is more assured of securing quality proposals from those most suited to carry out the work.

Open Tender

In an open tender process, the client generally advertises through the press, providing brief details on the project and on what will be required of a successful tenderer, and inviting interested parties to request a copy of the Brief.

This process is the least satisfactory of the three, often yielding large numbers of proposals whose comparative merit is unclear. The client then has a most difficult task to discern which of the large number are worth short-listing for closer appraisal.

The approach also runs the risk that some competent consultants who are in greater demand may not respond, because the process is time-consuming and the prospect of being selected from a large field is low. Thus the best consultant for the job may be missed by the client.