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Savvy or self-defeating?

26 May 2015

We were recently asked to interpret the scoring mechanism for the commercial section of a bid. We’re often asked to do this and are as frequently left puzzling as to what the purchasers are trying to achieve.

Taking the most recent example as a case in point, the variables boiled down to hourly rates per professional and leverage. In itself uncomplicated until you get to the next score: to prevent bidders maximising their score by pushing all work down to the cheapest staff, a counter balance was introduced which awarded maximum points to the bidder which delivered all these services by partners. So to maximise scores a bidder would propose minimal leverage and very low partner rates.

It may be childishly naïve but we fail to see how this approach was going to end up with the right answer from the buyer’s perspective. What the scoring mechanism was most likely to achieve in practice was the winning bidder pushing work down to less qualified staff whose rates had been padded to compensate for the low partner rates needed to maximise their score in order to win the work.

In other words the scoring mechanism created an intrinsically artificial scenario the opposite of which would occur once the contract was awarded. Not because that was what the winning bidder wanted, but because the purchaser had baked it into the selection process.

If ever the phrase “too clever for your own good” applied, surely this was it!


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