12 August 2008

Illusionary Competitions

This has happened time and again. There are some organisations, which ones, I will not state*, who will put up a request for quotation with an intention of awarding to a fixed party. What happens is that this particular organisation will announce a RFQ or tender with a tiny window and some rather odd specifications, making it rather difficult if not impossible for most submitters to adhere to.

There was a particular time when the contact details of the person calling for the quotation were not even given!**

In other words, the organisation is submitting to the 'letter of the law' but not to the 'spirit of the law'. The transaction has been fixed. The people calling for the quotation has conspired with a particular outside party for that. Oh well. What can I say? This isn't even about huge expensive systems...

In the first place, why do these organisations even bother to call for a competition?

* Well, I haven't stated if these are government, quasi-government, public or private limited companies. I leave it to you to guess.
** No telephone number, no fax number, just an email address that was wrong!


Wilfrid said...

Oh. I can perhaps shine some lights on that since in another life, I was helping with the sales job having exposed to all sorts of funny situations.

1st rule of the game: tendering process dictates that the tenderer must get more than 1 quotation. That is to avoid under table deals. Tendering process is not perfect but at least, it is to the public.

There was time when I have to help our clients to draft the RFP or RFQ. Because our clients don't have time to make one on their own. Since I was the one who write the RFP or RFQ, of course I was in a much better position to win the tender. Win-win.

There was time when we needed to enter into phase 2 and our clients needed a fresh budget. Of course, yet another tendering process. But since we were already on the ground, it was merely a negotiation process with a possibility of deals going to another company.

In both cases, I have seen that it is not 100%. There bounded to be some companies that were really hungry for success and beat us.

Some are very symbolic because the deadline of the quotation is so unrealistic. Like many things in life, at times it is merely a very last minute job, some requests have been sitting at someone's desk for month and then someone wake up and say: ooops, I need to tender this out. Of course, he or she usually has someone in mind.

Now that I am in the incorporate environment, there are internal job postings. Same thing. They have someone in mind but they still need to "tender" it out. Surprisingly, after seeing so many cases, there are always the unexpected even though how bias the game seems to have tilted.

Andy said...

When I worked at a consulting firm (now defunct), we used to say that these were "wired".

~autolycus said...

Heh. If I ever write a book, I must mention the way in which every contract for some organisations is 'house branded' – you need a travel agent, it's always the same person; you need a contractor, it's always the same person.

Just as egregious is the long-term contract designed to save you the trouble of going through the process for the next few years while the same person rips you off all the way. This is especially true for IT services and hardware.

Chuang Shyue Chou said...

Wilfrid, you were in sales?

I understood what you have described as I was once in the software industry and my company was the incumbent in a few projects and as such, we enjoyed advantages not unlike what you have described. The requirements were 'tailored' to our existing solution.

Unrealistic deadlines, yes you are right again.

Chuang Shyue Chou said...

Andy, was it that obvious?

Chuang Shyue Chou said...

Autolycus, you are right regarding engaging the same person. Some years ago, I realised that my regular contractor was 'ripping' me off, thus, I have not embarked on collecting three quotes. The prices are much better now.