Assessing returned tenders

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The procurement process, you use will define how much interaction will take place with the tendering contractors prior to awarding the contract.  However, in most situations every contractor should be given time to visit the construction site and read the tender document.  This will also allow you as the client to assess the contractors’ understanding of projects requirements.

You or the project manager:

  • Arrange a pre-tender meeting for the contractors
  • Deal with questions and queries from contractors

  • Communicate responses and issue to all contractors.

Holding a pre-tender meeting:

  • Holding a ‘pre-tender’ meeting is good contract management practice

  • Invite all tendering contractors along to the meeting at construction site

  • For larger projects, pre-tender meeting may be mandatory, but for small and simple projects it may not be cost effective for contractors to attend

  • The objective of the meeting is to give all contractors the opportunity to see the construction site and the work so they can work out how they will deliver the construction phase

  • If you are leading the meeting, make sure you know about, if relevant: site access points; one-way routes; material storage areas; welfare facility locations; restricted site areas; site boundaries; nature conservation or historic site issues; and environmental site issues

  • Expect contractors to ask you questions about the construction site and the work.  Go to the meeting prepared to give the answers.

Follow up on the pre-tender meeting:

  • Any design errors or amendments identified during pre-tender meeting should be reported to all contractors tendering (those at meeting and those who were not able to make it) - issue the specific parts from the amended tender documents

  • Give plenty of time for tenders to be completed and returned, three to four weeks should be a minimum for larger projects.  If insufficient time given, it may cause contractors to put in higher prices due to not giving enough time to consider the works and your project management requirements thoroughly whilst pricing

  • If queries from contractors or discussions during the pre-tender meeting result in significant changes to the design, the tender document, you can extend the tender period to give you time to update and send out the revised documents.

Tenders received from contractors:

  • Tenders returned by the date and time stated on the tender document should be assessed

  • Any tenders arriving after the deadline, you do not have to accept them, but you should have the discretion to assess them if there are valid reasons for the delay
  • All returned tenders should be opened together, assess each one fairly, and treat the information with care and attention - remember that the contractors have spent time and effort responding to the tender.  Local authorities or national park authorities will have specific procedures for opening tenders.  For other organisations who do not have procedures in place, the lead person should ask someone else to be present when tenders are opened.  You should consider recording the following information:

    • Time when tenders are opened

    • Names of those opening tenders

    • Details of tenders received after the deadline

    • Contractor names of tenders not returned at all

Tender assessment:

  • Assess all opened tenders together with two or three people present and involved in the assessment process
  • Creating a tender assessment sheet will help you to assess each tender individually in a consistent way.  This will then demonstrate that you have been objective in the selection process.  The sheet should include the key selection criteria that you are looking for in a contractor - use the criteria that you gave in the tender document.  You should note whether the tender includes that information and how well the contractor matches the criteria.  If some of the information required is missing, you or the project manager should contact the relevant contractor to request it and provide a reasonable time for response

  • Assess each tender for completeness and meeting the minimum selection criteria requirements, you will need to compare the tenders to decide who will provide best value for money.  By looking at the returned bill of quantities, you should be able to see whether the contractor has understood the work.  Look for items of work priced particularly high or low compared with other bill of quantities, and ‘hidden’ costs of provisional sums, which might make a seemingly cheap tender more expensive, if those sums are required

  • Check previous work experience for similar pathwork in order to judge the contractors skills, knowledge, experience, and organisational capability.  The most useful thing to do is speak to previous clients of a contractor who appear to score well in the tender - find out whether the previous client was happy with the quality of contractors work.  It is a good idea also to find out from previous clients whether there were any problems with communication, working and management arrangements, or health and safety on site.  Remember, the aim is to deliver your project on time and budget, so a cheap contractor who is difficult to work with could end up costing more than a contractor who is more expensive ‘on paper’ but requires minimal direction and site supervision

  • Check that each contractor has an adequate construction health and safety management knowledge and experience.  Look at their accident record.  If a contractors accident record shows lots of injuries, even minor ones, it may be because the were cutting corners with health and safety management on site

  • If you have not already done so, check financial security of each contractor to avoid the appointment of a contractor with poor financial history.  You do not want a contractor to run into financial problems when they are half way through the work - your project will stop

  • Final decision to appoint a preferred contractor will be based on a range of selection criteria factors so select your preferred contractor based on reaching the minimum quality standards and then on price.

Deciding to contract the preferred contractor:

  • Before a decision is made to enter in to contract with your preferred contractor, make sure you have adequate funding in place first

Awarding the contract to the preferred contractor:

  • Once you have made the final decision, contact the preferred contractor to ask them to take on the work.  If the contractor is happy and agrees to take on board the contract, you should then schedule the start-up process for the construction stage

  • If the construction phase is going to involve more than one contractor to undertake the work, you should advice the contractor of their appointment as principal contractor - advise them that they must fulfil the principal contractors CDM Regulation 2015 responsibilities, before starting any work on site, e.g. preparing construction phase plan, and during the construction stage
  • Award the contract to the contractor (or principal contractor) in writing with the award of contract letters signed by you and them
  • If your project is notifiable to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), you must inform HSE of who the contractor (or principal contractor) is by updating and resending the original F10 form
  • You, or the project manager contacts all unsuccessful contractors in writing to inform them of your decision.  These contractors will find it helpful to know how well they did compared with the other contractors, particularly on price - one useful way of providing 'anonymous' feedback is to list the contractors names in alphabetical order, then the prices in ascending order, so the contractors names and prices are not linked together.  The successful contractor should also be highlighted with their tender price shown - this is important if you have not gone for the lowest price.

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