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AWARD®: Commonly asked questions

Over the years I’ve been asked many questions about Commerce Decisions’ AWARD® solution including what it can do, what it can’t do, what it could do and what it definitely shouldn’t do.  Sometimes the answer is “Yes, AWARD® can do that, but do you really want it to for this procurement?”. 

I’m no longer surprised by any of the questions (yes, that is a challenge!) and have gathered together here some that I often encounter as well as a couple that I wish were asked more frequently. 

Q: Can AWARD® help communications with the market before the Invitation to Tender is issued?

A: Yes.  AWARD® is increasingly used during the market engagement stages of competitions to disseminate information in a fully controlled fashion to interested parties. It’s also used to receive feedback and contributions from industry to help focus the procurement.  This greatly improves the likelihood of timely success of the competition.

Q: Can the Authority have tracked conversations with the tenderers through AWARD®?

A: Yes.  AWARD® allows the Authority to have a fully secure and audited conversation with the bidders during the competition, both before and after the tenders are submitted.  This forms a critical part of the audit trail that allows the Authority to demonstrate that it has behaved appropriately with respect to all the bidders: that is openly, fairly and equally, as required by procurement law.

Q: Can the Authority see the bidders’ tender documents as they are loaded into AWARD®?

A: No.  Tenderer documents only become visible to the Authority after the submission deadline has passed.  Before that point the Authority can tell whether the bidder has marked their submission as complete, but nothing else.

Q: Will AWARD® automatically stop bidders from submitting their tenders late?

A: No.  Although the closing date and time for submission of tenders is published to bidders by AWARD®, the system does not automatically shut off their access or ability to provide responses at this time.  This is because doing so may disadvantage bidders who are having difficulty submitting their response for reasons that are out of their control (e.g. internet access or other IT problems).  The bidder response area is manually closed once the Authority are content that no bidders are having these or any other issues.

Q: (from Bidders) So how does AWARD® score the tenders submitted by bidders?

A: It doesn’t!  AWARD® helps the Authority to score the tenders by presenting the relevant tender documents to each assessor so that they can decide how to score them.  It then records the assessor’s conclusions.  The system doesn’t analyse the submitted documents in any way.  That is the job of the Authority’s team.

Q: Can the Authority control when submitted tenders are made available to their teams for assessment?

A: Yes.  Tenders are checked for completeness and compliance before being made visible to the team who score them.  Access to the tender documents is strictly controlled by the project team and gradually revealed to the assessors only when the commercial team are happy that it is appropriate to do so. 

Q: Can evaluators see how their colleagues have marked the tenders?

A: No.  The assessment process is usually undertaken in two stages.  In the first, individuals score the tenders separately from each other and cannot see each other’s scores.  In the second stage, which is often called Consensus or Moderation, a nominated team member works with the team to reconcile the scores of individuals to result in the Authority’s agreed score.  It is this Consensus score that then determines the winner(s) of the competition, not those of the individual assessors.

Q: Will the bidders automatically see our scores and the results of the competition determined from the scores?

A: No.  AWARD® only makes information visible to bidders that has been explicitly published by the Authority.  The scores and results are published by the Authority as debrief documents which are created by the procurement team.  These usually include information from the assessment undertaken in AWARD® but are under the full control of the Authority.

Q. How is AWARD® supporting users during these unprecedented times?

A. Both the AWARD® team and our software continue to operate as normal and are here to support you and your projects. You can get in contact with anyone from the team and they’ll be on hand to provide any help you need. This includes all our consultants who are delivering their usual support virtually using the many online systems that are now being widely used. As always, the wide range of expertise we offer varies from project to project depending on the size and complexity. This can include all aspects of support throughout the life of the project, from research and workshop facilitation to complex tender evaluation design and delivery – all of which can be tailored to meet your individual needs.

Want to know more?

To find out more, you can get in touch here or visit the AWARD® page for details on our software features and expert services. The team are also able to provide virtual training for both our AWARD® software and procurement best practice, so do get in touch if you’d like to learn more.