The Quality Imperative

When only the best bid can win, be the best bidder.

Impact Bids

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Commissioners are required by law to award a given contract to the “most economically advantageous tender” – the so-called MEAT principle. In doing so, the law requires them to establish the criteria for economic advantage from the outset, and generally, this is defined as a blend of scoring between Quality and Price.

While the MEAT criteria vary from one contract to the next, it is often – particularly for services – set at 60% Quality: 40% Price. With few exceptions, the cheapest bid is awarded full marks for Price, with other bids scoring proportionately thereafter relative to the cheapest. For example:

Bidder 1 Price £100
Score Awarded 40 points

Bidder 2 Price £105
Score Awarded 40 x (100/105) = 38 points

Bidder 3 Price £108
Score Awarded 40 x (100/108) = 37 points

In this way scoring on Price is highly objective, however scoring on the Quality of the written tender is much more subjective. While commissioners ordinarily will include the Quality scoring criteria in the issued documents, the criteria inevitably rely upon the professional judgment of the evaluators. Importantly, the courts repeatedly reinforce the commissioner’s discretion in this aspect of their decision making.

For example, a “Good” response to a given question, gaining 70% of the available marks might be considered:

A strong answer which includes relevant information appropriate to the question, supported by evidence which provides a good level of confidence.”

Whereas an ‘Excellent’ response, gaining a score of 90% or more, might be considered:

The answer is fully detailed with relevant information appropriate to the question, supported by convincing evidence which provides a high level of confidence.”

Clearly, a bid which is considered to be “Good” is a competent piece of work, but is it good enough to be awarded the contract if an alternative bid is considered “Excellent”? Let’s look at the arithmetic.

Where 60% of the evaluation is weighted on Quality, the “Excellent” bid will score 90×60%= 54 points, whereas, the “Good” bid will score 70×60% = 42 points.

That’s a difference of 12 points on Quality.

Now run the arithmetic: Given the Price scoring above, how much more expensive does the Excellent bid need to be before the Good bid can win on Price?

At Impact Bids, we don’t just write to win, we write to win profitably.

[NB The example above is illustrative only of a typical approach to evaluation. Every procurement exercise has its own specific evaluation criteria, sometimes entirely different to the above, and which need to be analysed on their own merits.]