An inside look at International Tender Management
Colleague Kate Sterck and her team are the force behind the Athlon Global Coordination Center (GCC). GCC participates in tenders, provides customer reports, manages implementations and is the single point of contact for all international customer requests. Kate has extensive experience in International fleet and mobility management. Ride along with this expert on the path of International Tender Management.
What are the different phases of an international tender for fleet and mobility management?
There are three main types of request in relation to a tender. In a Request For Information (RFI), the (potential) customer wants high level information about Athlon as a supplier, as part of an exploration of the market. A Request For Proposal (RFP) is an in-depth questionnaire about Athlon’s services, capabilities, products and solutions. Thirdly, a Request For Quotation (RFQ) is basically the (potential) customer asking for our prices. There are buyers who prefer to go through each stage. Others will combine two types of requests in a Request for Tender (RFT). But in every case, the most important phase for all buyers is preparation.
What would be your top tips in tendering from a customer perspective?
As profound preparation is key, it’s probably not surprising that my tips relate to that topic. I always advise to make a list of ultimate goal(s), must haves and the criteria you’ll use to assess and decide on a supplier. Focus in your questionnaire on these topics. And finally, define the tender strategy.
Is your main goal to save on costs? Focus on the RFQ. But if your goal is to switch your fleet to electric vehicles, your approach will be different. There is no one size fits all. And never underestimate the engagement and involvement of all local stakeholders in relation to your goals. So make sure everyone is on the same page early on in the process.
Have you seen an evolution in the way organisations tender?
Absolutely! About 10 years ago, we had to prepare hard-copy responses that needed to be delivered to our (potential) customers by registered mail. Oh wat a great time it was for our creative minds! But nowadays digitisation has become prominent in procurement. Meaning, we usually have to respond using the (potential) customer’s sourcing tool.
Companies have also become more and more regulated. There are NDAs, Integrity Codes, Codes Of Conduct and CSR policies. What was rarely requested 10 years ago is almost standard now.
Deadlines have also sharpened over time. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always improve the quality of responses. No tender is the same. No company is the same. At Athlon we put all our energy in finding the best fitting solution for our customers.
There is however one thing that hasn’t changed over time. For some reason operational lease quotes still remain popular.
Is there an ideal frequency for tendering?
We see about 75% of our customers tendering every 4 to 5 years. Whether this is ideal, I’m not quite sure. A tender process consumes time and resources from all parties involved. Even more when awarding a tender to a new supplier. This means you have to balance the cost of performing a tender—and of potentially working with a new supplier for 4 or 5 years—with the benefits. Nevertheless, my team welcomes all tenders. They keep us sharp. Every tender that lands on our desk will receive our full attention. It keeps us awake and makes us a benchmark in the market of Fleet and Mobility.
How can Athlon support organisations in tender management?
I can’t stress it enough, preparation is vital. It’s good to know that Athlon has all the experience to give assistance in that area. We can help in setting goals, from going electric to increasing fleet size. We help define awarding criteria, whether they’re based on preferred suppliers, pricing, mobility range, or sole supply. And we work with our (potential) customers to ensure they have up-to-date relevant car baskets available— the lists of vehicles for which they want to receive quotes.
My team also offers tips and tricks to smooth the process. We’re a partner. Not only in the preparation and tender phases, but also when it’s time to implement. Because this is possibly even more important; conducting a tender is one thing, but having it implemented, as awarded, in every country in scope is definitely a different story. It requires special skills and know-how. But not to worry. Just leave it to Athlon. Our enthusiasm for mobility is immense. And we gladly show and share it.