By Paul Emanuelli

This article is an excerpt from The Art of Tendering: A Global Due Diligence Guide, which is available for purchase.

While purchasers are often called upon to procure at racetrack speed, many institutions continue to employ drafting methods drawn from the horse-and-buggy era. To meet their ever-tightening timeframes, institutions need to implement techniques that can accelerate tender call drafting, while producing clear documents capable of withstanding the turbulence of high-speed bidding. This article surveys five critical steps for injecting aerodynamic drafting into your purchasing cycle.

1. Platform Documents Built for Speed
Building a good procurement document is a lot like using a high-performance race car: while technicians constantly adapt to specific conditions, they rarely re-invent the wheel. The same goes with tender call drafting. Like the race pit crew, purchasers need the tools to ensure the rapid responses demanded by today’s procurement cycle. Drafters should therefore have a good set of template documents and modularized components that can be quickly adapted to the specific circumstances. To accelerate document preparation, institutions need to deploy a flexible suite of procurement formats that eliminate the inefficiency of unnecessary duplication. This is a necessary precondition to optimizing drafting efficiency.

2. Drawing a Clear Road Map
Every tender call needs a succinct statement of requirements, which should typically be one page or less in length. This initial mapping statement should provide the clear, thorough and concise, road map to the rest of the tender call requirements. The more complex the procurement, the greater the need to carefully craft this road map. Once this big picture overview is provided, the various components should be detailed in later sections of the documents. The structure of your drafting process should map to the structure of your procurement document: the team should start with the clear general understanding of the requirements and then proceed to fill in the specifics. Rushing headlong into the details without first setting out a commonly understood and agreed upon plan can result in a lot of dead ends and delays in the drafting process. It can also result in serious design flaws in the final product. Establishing a clear statement of requirements is therefore a critical checkpoint for aerodynamic drafting.

3. Highlighting Recurring Hazards
Knowing the legal terrain of the tendering process is crucial to avoiding head-on collisions with suppliers. To properly meet disclosure duties, purchasers need to notify prospective suppliers of known risk factors in the contemplated contract. They also need to properly describe their evaluation plan by drafting: (i) clear tender compliance requirements; (ii) transparent supplier ranking criteria; and (iii) simply stated process rules. As the case law clearly illustrates, the procurement roadway is fraught with legal hazards and strewn with the wreckage caused by poor, past drafting practices. Avoiding legal potholes through proper disclosure is a crucial risk mitigation measure for maintaining aerodynamic procurement.

4. Achieving Horizontal and Vertical Integration
To run a streamlined procurement process, all of the components of the tender call document need to work together properly. This requires horizontal integration across the document: the statement of requirements needs to line up with the evaluation criteria, which then need to line up with the pricing structure in the rate bid form. Aerodynamic drafting also requires vertical integration: the statement of requirements needs to line up with all of the operational and technical details, which, in turn, must integrate with a properly tailored legal agreement. To complete the assembly, the pricing structure must also align with the specifications and legal agreement. The integrity of the procurement process can be seriously undermined if any of these components are out of alignment. Proper document integration is therefore a critical step in achieving aerodynamically designed tender calls.

5. Using Clear Drafting
There is no value added to your procurement documents by speaking in riddles, using unnecessarily complicated legalistic drafting conventions, or importing extraneous deadweight content cribbed from prior procurements. Document drafters need to get back to basics and reclaim control over their content. The use of clear, direct, and jargon-free language is the proper starting point. Legalistic drafting techniques, such as defined terms, cross-referencing, and shorthand phrases, should be used sparingly and only with a proper understanding of their effect. Inserting unnecessary filler from the institution’s past documents should be avoided at all costs. Aerodynamic drafting leaves no room for tricky terminology, cumbersome techniques, or dead-weight content.

Time to Start Your Engines
To avoid being left behind in the next procurement cycle, purchasers need to be trained to use a flexible suite of procurement tools and a streamlined set of drafting techniques. As timeframes continue to tighten, the use of aerodynamic drafting is key to executing projects with speed and precision.