Interacting with Government During a Tender Process

Clients often ask us for tips on navigating the minefield that is communicating with government during tender processes. Naturally, tenderers want to do everything they can to market themselves and develop relationships with government. This can, however, be complicated by guidelines and rules designed to ensure probity in public sector procurement processes. The following tips will help you to engage appropriately and effectively with government during a procurement process.

Take advantage of the period before a tender is released to communicate with potential customers

Probity requirements are not as strict during this period, so it is a great opportunity for you to develop relationships with potential customers in government and to influence the development of future tenders.

Check annual procurement plans

Agencies' annual procurement plans provide a short summary of their strategic procurement outlook, as well as information on specific procurements expected during the coming year. You can find Commonwealth agency procurement plans on the AusTender website. Annual procurement plans are published before 1 July each year and give advance notice to potential suppliers about expected significant procurements for the forthcoming financial year.

Aim to conduct business on the basis of mutual trust and respect 

Government officials are required to buy goods and services in an ethical, accountable and transparent manner. States and Territories will have different rules around procurement, however these are generally similar. You can read up on the Commonwealth rules for procurement here.

Notify the relevant government agency of any conflicts of interest

You must make a written declaration to the relevant agency of any actual, potential or perceived conflicts of interests prior to taking part in a procurement process. You also have an ongoing obligation to disclose any conflicts that arise through until the completion of the tender process. Conflict of interest include: other employment, prior employment or relationships between contract managers and incumbent providers.

Act with transparency when meeting with procurement contact people

You should maintain transparency in meetings with government employees. If you are submitting a tender application with an agency with which you are already contracted, then you should ensure that any meetings with the current customer are minuted and presided over by a witness.

Maintain contact with the procurement contact person throughout the process

If you read the tender and think that the government agency did not quite get the specification right, or that there are errors in it, you should ring the contact person as early as possible. If you have any questions about the tender, do not hesitate in calling or emailing the contact person. It is also a great opportunity to develop a relationship with the agency and to differentiate yourself from competitors.

Respond to all the Qualitative Criteria in the tender

Do not use a generic response or assume that the person reading your offer knows you, your company, or anything about the services you provide. Tailor your responses to be informative and relative to the criteria that you are responding to. If you have any additional information which you would like to include, but which doesn’t fit in with the criteria, include this as an attachment to your offer and include cross-references.

Carefully prepare any site visits or presentations to the potential client

Ensure that any of your staff involved in site visits or presentations are well briefed on tender requirements and well organised. Keep messages simple. Select three key facts you want evaluators to retain – these are the primary reasons to award the contract to you – then make everything else relate to those three facts.

Submit offers on time, at the correct location and in the correct format

Online submission systems can malfunction and cause you to submit late. Aiming to submit your tender a day before its due date can lessen the risk of this. Often, even if it is the fault of the online tendering system, procurement officials will not accept a late proposal.

Request a debriefing

You should always request a debriefing on your tender following the evaluation process, especially if your bid was unsuccessful. Feedback from the evaluation panel can be extremely useful in understanding how your offering can be improved and can assist you in preparing for your next tender.

Maintain positive relationships

Take a positive approach to any debriefing, and treat it as an opportunity to continue to build your relationship with the agency.

Why Strategic Planning Matters: Interview with Hakan Harman, CEO of Multicultural NSW

In 2014, Fyusion worked with then newly-appointed CEO of Multicultural NSW, Hakan Harman, to develop the agency’s Corporate Plan. The resulting document Harmony in Action: Strategic Plan 2014-17 gave MNSW a roadmap to achieve their strategic vision over the following three years.

At the end of this three-year period, Fyusion Principal Consultant Amy Simpson-Deeks met with Hakan Harman to talk about his experience of implementing Harmony in Action, what he had learned from the process, and why strategic planning matters.

Fyusion: What are you currently doing in terms of strategic planning for Multicultural NSW?

HH: We are coming to the end of Harmony in Action and are looking at the next iteration of our strategic vision for Multicultural NSW. We built Harmony in Action in 2014 as a roadmap for where we wanted to get to, with detailed actions, and have delivered on all of the things we identified as objectives.

Our next plan is being developed as a higher-level strategy for Multicultural NSW, and one that can be adopted more widely across the public sector in terms of embedding a cultural diversity lens into the work of all NSW Government agencies.

Fyusion: How well has Harmony in Action stood up over time?

HH: Across all of the government changes we have seen in the last three years, Harmony in Action has stood the test of time with all of our key partners and across agencies. This has also been the feedback from external stakeholders outside of government.

Harmony in Action is perceived as visionary and positive. People reflect on the transformation of the agency under this strategy, including our relocation, and the new organisational structure with many new staff. We have also received additional funding to implement a telephone interpreting service and to implement the transfer of full responsibility for settlement immigration planning for the state.

We have received significant additional funding for the COMPACT program (which stands for Community, in Partnership, taking Action to safeguard Australia's peaceful and harmonious way of life) as part of our grants program. Stakeholders have become better connected to MNSW, including through the reconstitution of our Regional Advisory Council structure.

Fyusion: Why do you think Harmony in Action has been successful? What did you do when building this strategy that has allowed it to succeed?

HH: Getting buy-in from a full cross-section of stakeholders into the final document was one key thing. We consulted very widely, with key stakeholders across government, communities, advisory committees and regional councils. The final plan resonated with everyone.

It was also timing. People understood the need to refresh the agency and welcomed involvement in building Multicultural NSW.

Fyusion: How will you engage stakeholders in developing your next strategic plan?

HH: For our next strategic plan, we are engaging with those who contributed in 2014, and have also broadened our external engagement further. We are basically saying, ‘We are closing the Harmony in Action chapter; how did we do, and what can we do better?’

We are in many facets a different/new organisation now. The next strategic plan will be our first real opportunity to look at Multicultural NSW and reimagine our future.

Fyusion: Part of developing Harmony in Action was creating a vision statement for Multicultural NSW. Why do you think it is important to articulate an organisational vision?

HH: This enables people to connect with the remit of the agency, and it enables you to get buy in from people. This is particularly important for us in dealing with social cohesion and harmony. Building cohesion can be made a bit easier when you are trying to do something that clearly resonates with a societal good.

The profile of Multicultural NSW is growing. We need to continue our collaborative nature and being an indispensable part of the machinery of government. We also need to keep innovating the manner in which we positively embed an understanding of cultural diversity as one of our state’s most significant assets.

The Importance of Maintaining Leadership Presence

Leadership presence is an aspect of leadership performance that is often overlooked but can be the differentiating factor between two candidates of similar abilities. According to Sylvia Ann Hewlett, founder and CEO of the Center for Talent Innovation and the founder of Hewlett Consulting Partners LLC:
 

“No man or woman attains a top job, lands an extraordinary deal, or develops a significant following without this heady combination of confidence, poise, and authenticity that convinces the rest of us we’re in the presence of someone who’s the real deal. It’s an amalgam of qualities that telegraphs that you are in charge or deserve to be.”


Understanding your own strengths and areas of growth is critical in building your leadership toolkit. The three pillars of executive presence are:

  • Gravitas;

  • Communication; and

  • Appearance.

These three pillars inform the impression you make to those around you, both verbally and non-verbally. In this article, we will look at practical ways you can use voice, syntax, props, and gesture to establish leadership presence and improve personal engagement.

Gravitas


How do you signal your intellect to others? Do you know your stuff cold? As a leader, you need to tailor how you present to others to be at your most influential and credible in every environment. Having an influential voice among those at the table is what is often referred to as ‘gravitas’.

Key aspects of gravitas include:

  • Confidence and grace under fire;

  • Decisiveness and "showing teeth";

  • Integrity and speaking truth to power;

  • Emotional intelligence;

  • Reputation and standing; and

  • Vision/charisma.

Communication

Can you get your ideas across? Can you be heard? Is your message clear, simple and succinct? No matter how profound your gravitas, if you can’t convey your ideas, it becomes null.

A leader should communicate how his or her vision can be operationalised by the team. This includes closing the loop with staff and stakeholders about why a decision had been made, and communicating effectively through a variety of mechanisms regarding how the vision should be operationalised.

Key aspects of effective communication include:

  • Understanding your audience;

  • Anticipating feedback and responding;

  • Combining rational and emotional appeals;

  • Clear, simple and succinct messaging;

  • Creating momentum for change;

  • Rehearsal and role-playing;

  • Creating or reinforcing incentives for your audience to pay attention;

  • Using humour;

  • Persuading with stories or parables;

  • Using research and evidence to support assertions;

  • Body language and voice;

  • Dealing with hostility and apathy; 

  • Valuing silence; and

  • Listening actively.

Appearance

It is important to be aware of the impression your appearance gives to those around you. Your dress, body language, and the way you stand and walk all create first impressions that either convey your ability - or detract from it.

For example, being well-groomed and polished communicates that you are someone who values and takes care of yourself. This also comes across as respectful and considerate of your colleagues and clients. People unconsciously respect someone who makes an effort, and your appearance can be an outward symbol of this.

Key aspects of managing your appearance include:

  • Adopting appropriate dress and styling for executive engagement;

  • Maintaining attentive and commanding body language; and

  • Ensuring strong physical positioning in meetings.

In order to be able to develop your leadership presence and influence in the workplace, it is important to stand back and make an honest assessment of your own gravitas, communication and professional appearance. You may even consider investing in leadership coaching to gain a clearer perspective on where and how to focus your development.

Three Benefits of Using Panel Arrangements in Procurement

A panel arrangement is essentially a safe procurement shortcut for a department or agency; it provides the organisation with an approved shortlist of providers to select from when it needs to purchase something. Panel arrangements can be an efficient and elegant solution to procurement, especially when certain categories of relevant goods or services are purchased regularly.
There are three key benefits of using panel arrangements.

1. Efficiency
Procurement policy in Australia often requires that departments and agencies seek quotes for goods and services above a certain value. However, undertaking a full RFQ process can be expensive and time-consuming. Panel arrangements can save time and money by allowing an organisation to carry out one initial competitive tendering process to establish the panel, after which tenderers can be engaged directly. While some effort and cost is involved in the establishment phase, panels can ultimately save your agency an enormous amount of time and money, particularly when dealing with goods and services that need to be procured regularly. This saving is also reflected on the side of the supplier, who avoids having to respond to a formal RFQ each time they propose to deliver goods or services.

2. Diversity
If goods or services were previously procured through a closed RFQ process, undertaking an open tender process to establish your panel can be a good way of updating and refreshing your preferred suppliers. The process also allows you to get a better idea of market prices and new service offerings, and most importantly, increases competition in your tender process. At the same time, it is critical that panel arrangements are not allowed to stagnate and that you build in regular points to open the panel to new applicants. If value for money is the key outcome of effective procurement, well-managed panel arrangements can be the best way to achieve this.

3. Effective strategic partnerships
Panel arrangements allow an organisation to develop long-term relationships with suppliers and to more easily manage those relationships over time. Panels connect you to suppliers on an ongoing basis, and provide formal mechanisms for performance management and quality control, which can be utilised to ensure continued value for money for the life of the panel.
 
In short, panel arrangements require an upfront investment but are an effective way to increase efficiency, maintain a diverse collection of suppliers, and effectively manage relationships with those suppliers over time. Agencies that procure similar goods or services on a frequent basis should consider a panel arrangement as a solution to their procurement challenges.

How to Communicate Better (Not Just More) as a Leader

All leaders need to communicate well, both with their teams and with other staff across their organisations. However, it is a common misconception that communicating effectively simply means communicating more: increasing the volume of our messages to anyone and everyone. We need to keep in mind that sending out a barrage of emails to staff at all hours, or scheduling endless face-to-face meetings, can be counterproductive and consume a great deal of your valuable time as a leader. So how to communicate better without communicating constantly?

The answer is to think outside the box. The most effective leaders take an innovative approach to communication, using the channels and mechanisms at their disposal to engage with different audiences. Here are a few ideas:

  • Get tech-savvy: Podcasts, vodcasts, Youtube clips and teleconferencing are all changing the landscape of organisational communication. For the spotlight-shy, media coaching can help you feel more at home in front of a camera. These tools can be particularly useful if you want to reach staff working from remote locations, spread across multiple sites, or who spend a lot of time on the road.

  • Open your door…at specific times: A 24-hour open door policy sounds great in theory, but can be unworkable in reality. Try setting aside an hour or two per week in which team members can come to you with any issue they wish to discuss. You could schedule these discussions in five- or ten-minute slots and ask staff to book in ahead of time. Remember, once you have set up an arrangement like this it is very important to consistently make it happen, to show staff that you respect their time as much as you expect them to respect yours.

  • Use the tools at your disposal: Most organisations have a number of channels set up to enable communication between, and within, teams. However, these are not often leveraged to their full potential. Staff intranets, online forums, noticeboards (online or offline) and newsletters are a few of the tools you may have at your fingertips. These can be a great way to reach people – but will only be effective if leaders across the organisation actively promote and engage with these tools.

The bottom line is that good communication uses the right channels for the right audience at the right time. This means thinking carefully about how you facilitate meaningful two-way communication, rather than simply ramping up the volume of your messaging.

National Gallery of Australia director Gerard Vaughan says funding cuts are ‘challenging’

News from Fyusion’s involvement in the restructure of the National Gallery of Australia.

National Gallery of Australia director Gerard Vaughan has described continual funding restraints as “challenging” but believes staff understand the pressure placed on management.

The gallery announced several positions would be cut last month – including the head librarian position – as it continued to trim its resources guided by consultancy firm Fyusion.

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/national-gallery-of-australia-director-gerard-vaughan-says-funding-cuts-are-challenging-20161014-gs2blr.html