Vendor Information: First Time Responding
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Is it your first time responding to a competition for a government contract for goods, services or construction? You are in the right place! BC Bid Resources contains a lot of information that can help you.
Opportunities to compete for the goods, services and construction that government needs can be found on BC Bid; you may find the information on Find Contract Opportunities useful to locate those that may be of interest to you.
Once you have found something that interests you, the competitive process (also known as the solicitation) may seem overwhelming. To make it easier to understand, let’s view everything one step at a time.
If you aren’t sure if you should respond to something you’ve found, refer to Decision to Respond to a Solicitation for advice on what to consider.
Step One: Read Everything Available
You may find it helpful to read all the solicitation documentation twice – once to get an overall sense of what’s required and what the Province is looking for in submissions, and then a second time to jot down your questions and ideas.
This step includes ensuring that you fully understand all the rules about how the competitive process will work. These rules tell you what you what your responsibilities are and how the Province will conduct itself.
If you are the successful vendor, you will be expected to agree to all the terms and conditions in the purchase order or other contract (for goods) or the contract format(s) that may be used for services and construction. You will have little, if any, ability to change anything, unless the solicitation expressly states otherwise. Refer to Contract Negotiations / Finalization for Competitions and Direct Awards for more information about this.
Step Two: Confirm all Mandatory Requirements
Most solicitations will include mandatory requirements, which are conditions that every participating vendor must meet in order to be considered. You want to make sure that each one makes sense to you, and that you can meet all of them. Refer to Mandatory Requirements for more information on this step.
Step Three: Understand the Nature of the Solicitation and End Result
Not every solicitation results in a contract or purchase order. Some result in a pre-qualification list, or standing offers, which may or may not eventually lead to the Province making a purchase. Make sure you fully understand what the end result of a solicitation is as you don't want to be disappointed should a standing offer be created when you were expecting an order.
Refer to Types of Solicitations and Other Opportunities for more information on the processes commonly used by the Province.
Step Four: Determine How the Award Will Be Made
Some solicitations are price-based, meaning that the successful vendor will be the lowest price that meets all specifications. Refer to Price-Based Solicitations for more information on how these competitions work.
Other solicitations are scored, meaning that the vendor(s) with the best overall score is successful. Price is usually one of the factors scored, but it is not the sole consideration in the competition. Refer to Weighted Requirements for more information on scored solicitations.
You need to understand how the award will be made in order to decide your strategy for your submission. You may not be successful if you approach a scored solicitation the same as a price-based process, even if your price is lower. The opposite is also true – you may have a product or approach that you feel is superior to what is requested in a price-based solution, but unless it offers the lowest price and meets all the specifications, you won’t be successful.
Step Five: Ask Questions
Almost everyone who decides to respond to a solicitation has questions, particularly if this is the first time you are participating in one. Don’t be shy about asking questions – ask anything that will make the process easier to understand. Try and avoid assumptions, as they may not align with what the Province intended. Double check the solicitation to see what it says, if anything, about asking questions so that you are able to do so in a proper manner.
Refer to Asking Questions for more information.
Step Six: Write Your Submission
This might be much easier to say than to do. Luckily, we have resources to help – refer to Writing Submissions, and/or the following guides: Responding to Government RFPs: A Proponent Guide to the Revised Request for Proposals (RFP) Corporate Template for the Government of British Columbia, and the Proponents’ Guide: How to Respond to the Short-form Request for Proposals (“SRFP”).
Step Seven: Submit
Make sure that you get your submission in on time (before the closing date and time), as the Province won’t accept late submissions. Some solicitations will allow only one way to deliver your submission, whereas others may give you a choice between hand delivery, eBidding, and/or email. Refer to Delivering Submissions for guidance, and Submission Confirmation to find out how to make sure that the Province received your submission.
Step Eight: Wait to Hear the Results
After the closing date and time, the Province has to evaluate all the submissions received. Refer to Timelines for information on how long this may take and Submission Evaluations and Debriefs to find out what is happening while you wait, and how you can get feedback on your submission.
While many vendors that are successful in a competition ask for a debrief, if you are not successful, ask for a debrief. This will give you valuable information on how to improve your understanding for the next solicitation that interests you.
If you are successful, you may be awarded a contract or purchase order. Refer to Contract Award for more information on how this works. Alternately, you may be placed on a list of pre-qualified suppliers or you may have a standing offer to supply goods and services under some type of framework agreement or a Corporate Supply Arrangement. Refer to Types of Solicitations and Other Opportunities for more information on what happens next in these processes.
If you have a concern or complaint about a contract award or solicitation process, refer to Vendor Concerns and Complaints for information on the process to let the Province know.
Refer to Learning and Supports for more information about what else might be available to assist you.