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TALKING POINT

Gaining an edge in the presentation and content of Official Journal of the European Union submissions will increase success in a highly competitive market, says David King.

Talking point copy Contractors must submit an increasing number of prequalifications to secure a place on the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) tender list. But planning the submission's detail can take time, a luxury many companies do not have.

To enable British contractors to enjoy success with European procurement policy, particularly as the level of publicly procured projects increases, professionalism in the prequalification process is critical.

Sometimes contractors struggle to pinpoint what might secure prequalification and a successful tender. Unfortunately, in terms of documentation, a strategic approach is often not exploited to its maximum.

There are many key issues surrounding the production of such documents. Where does one start in proving to the client the company can do justice to the project?

Those in the organisation responsible for sorting out prequalification questionnaires are often busy with other pressures, meaning prequalification and tender submissions alike may be put together at the last minute with just the basic information.

Companies are potentially missing commercial opportunities if they do not adopt a highly focused approach.

Contractors have concerns regarding the production of such documents, with one being cost.

Having a team dedicated to producing in-house submissions is generally considered expensive as a bespoke and quality document that will stand apart from your competitors will incur not just printing, design and binding costs, but specialist knowledge.

With tender submissions the emphasis obviously needs to be on producing the net prime costs for the tender and not on how it is presented to the client; which would be a dangerous chance to take.

However, companies are becoming ever more aware of the positive effect a well presented, crisp and attractive tender or prequalification document can have on their client and the superiority they can gain over competitors for the project.

It is a particular concern for those companies that may not have the facilities for high quality documentation production, such as a design team, desk top publishers and people with the specialist expertise to grab the attention of the client.

The requirements of traditional prequalifications and OJEU's contrast dramatically. With the former, companies can offer supplementary information to support their bid to win the project. But when completing an OJEU questionnaire or producing an OJEU document, supplying extra information will more than likely result in downmarking.

With OJEUs, it is always critical to comply strictly with the specifics laid out in the questionnaire as there are often in excess of 20 to 30 contractors prequalifying. Those that confuse the process by supplying additional information are very quickly discarded.

As an industry, we need to raise standards by increasing the quality of our submissions in this very competitive procurement route. This is particularly important considering the value and number of contracts that will be procured through the OJEU processes for the forthcoming London 2012 Olympics.

It is clear that the presentation and content of these documents matters. As competition grows, construction becomes more of a cut-throat industry, where prequalifications that inspire little interest in the reader are disregarded.

But submissions with a focused, strategic approach tailored specifically to and incorporating the ethos of both parties are likely to reflect the efficiency, value and overall suitability of the company to the desired project.

And it is these, therefore, that increase success.

David King is the founder of prequalification and tender document production company Jigsaw Strategic.

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