Calls for tenders: 5 mistakes to avoid

How much does a Travel & Expense call for tenders cost? Of course, there’s an immediate financial cost in terms of the man-hours spent by your employees and the fees of any external consultants providing support. But there’s also a less obvious cost that you’ll have to bear over the lifetime of the contract, and even beyond: the satisfaction, or dissatisfaction of users at all levels of your organisation. In our last editorial, Stéphane Donders (CEO, Traveldoo) made the point that the human element should be considered in business travel, this is as true for travellers as it is for your internal administration departments or IT teams.

With over 17 years’ experience participating in, and pitching for tenders, we identified 5 key points to   help add value to your call for tenders and reduce costs.

1.    Oversized tenders that do not really meet the needs: it is necessary to check the complexity, quality and relevance of the content… FOR YOU.

  • Really ask yourself why you want to implement a Travel & Expense solution in your company for your employees, travellers and other services. The difficulty in this kind of project essentially comes from the fact that it’s collaborative. Estimate the ROI you’ll see and compare your estimates with those of the software provider.
  • Get an accurate picture of your needs and, ideally, come up with specifications that are actually yours and not an nth-generation copy. The aim will be to keep within the standards offered by the software providers, so you may be led to accept adjustments to your practices and procedures.
  • Avoid excessively broad calls for tenders by sticking to questions that actually concern you. Do you really need to produce questionnaires with more than 1200 questions or to ask more than 3 providers for a T&E solution?  You’re not buying ERP software or a complex production solution, but an SaaS solution that is underpinned by standards that have been tried and tested by the market.

2.    A solution not tested by future users: before any agreement, it is essential to check the quality of the solution’s usability.

  • By all means, get references.
  • Have the usability of the solution tested by travellers and their assistants, but also test its administration..
  • Adapt your procedures and practices to the standards proposed to you. If possible avoid complex bespoke developments, which are costly and lead to delays.

3.    Consider Customer Service sphere at the beginning of the project: Include quality assurance, customer relationship management and customer support as key components to the success of your project.

  • Meet the software providers at an early stage. Visit them at their offices to get a feel for the company culture – this is a partnership you’re going to “live” with.
  • Don’ just meet the provider’s salespeople, also meet your potential project managers, account managers and customer support teams.
  • Read the service level agreement before getting to the contractual phase.

4.    Don’t overlook complex monitoring opportunities: Pay special attention to monitoring and reporting.

  • Check that the reports and monitoring options on offer meet the needs of your various departments.
  • Make sure that reporting is simple to use for a regular user without requiring complex training.
  • Don’t overstate needs. When it comes to this point, different departments can be very creative. Remember that the aim is to use reports, not to store them.

5.    Underestimating the integration part: Integrating data is a step more than necessary with all entities.

  • Best practice is definitely to use your software provider’s standard interface formats. This way you retain autonomy and flexibility in case of deployment across different systems, or even upgrading of your exchange platforms.
  • Before your call for tenders, make sure you identify the source of HR and accounting references for your business units.
  • Don’t underestimate the integration aspect so that it becomes a problem at the last minute.  Start a dialogue between your technical teams and the software provider’s technical teams at a very early stage.

Implementing a T&E solution is a collaborative project with many stakeholders, requiring constant direction and follow up in order to be successful. By following these 5 key points you are likely to get answers you can use more easily, while avoiding misunderstandings and uncertainty.

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