In the 9th Grade, I got to choose which science class I would be assigned to. My marks had landed me right in the middle of the class breakdown, so my teacher gave me a choice. I could go to the “lower” class or the “higher” class, the following year. The implication being that the “higher” class would be harder.
There are few instances where being slap bang in the middle are beneficial. Bidder’s Lists are one of them. There is nothing more perplexing than looking at the prices submitted on a tender and there is one extremely high tender price and one ridiculously low tender price. You can almost imagine the tender prices in the middle huddling together trying not to make metaphorical eye contact with either end of the Bidder’s List, in a bid not to be “tainted”. You do not want to stand out on a Bidder’s List. This is not the time to be an individual. Because if you are that incredibly low price; people will assume that you’re under cutting your prices. And if you’re that really high tender price; they assume you don’t know what you’re doing and trying to win the “tender lotto”.
Granted, tenders aren’t awarded by price alone. But price still speaks volumes.
Tendering is not a passive endeavour. It isn’t something that just “happens”. It has to be enforced and monitored at every stage. Tenders are about being competitive and cost effective; while promoting equality, transparency and fairness (I can practically see you rolling your eyes). Yes, I know you are more likely to see the words “corruption” and “price fixing” when reading any headline concerning tenders. And I can’t argue with that. Those in Supply Chain Management Units need to be trained in the correct and legal way of handling tenders, and those in the building and construction industry need to know just as much. The right hand keeps the left hand honest, as it were. In case, no one’s told you; you are allowed to object. If you see any dodgy dealings, call them on it. Maybe you’ve become too jaded; and gone to the private sector (no one can blame you). Maybe you’re too new and naïve; and not sure of the procedures (go learn them). Hell, maybe you’ve joined them.
If you don’t like what your industry has become, change it. If the client isn’t paying you; cancel the contract. If your contractor isn’t doing the job correctly; kick them to the half-finished kerb. In a legal and professional manner, of course. It happens all the time; so why can’t it happen every time? Yes, this is overly simplified. I realise, on the ground, it is far more complicated and messy and nuanced than an outsider like me; could possibly understand. Hard choices abound.
I can only offer this piece of advice my dad gave me “It’s better to be at the bottom of the higher class; than the top of the lower class”. At least you’ve got somewhere to go.