Optimising The Tender Process For Suppliers

We know from talking to our users (and our own bad experiences!) just how much complexity and stress can be involved in the process of bidding on a tender. Do you have all the documents to hand? What does a specified clause mean? When is the next deadline? How exactly are you expected to respond? All too often, requirements are vague and the responsibility is on a single person to figure it out by wading through a bunch of emails and documents.

DeepStream already provides a framework to help structure this process but we’ve now devoted even more effort towards streamlining the supplier-side experience to make bidding on a tender as simple (and as close to delightful!) as we can.

Focus on what matters

With complex procurement comes many documents, emails and phone calls. Inevitably, any system designed to make sense of this process is pretty complex itself. That’s why it’s so important to be ruthless about focusing the experience on what’s actually important.

Clear the path to ‘bid complete’

A supplier’s ‘My Bid’ page provides a hub for all their activity on a tender, and it rightly has prominence as the default page whenever a request is opened.

The main body of the page is like a supplier’s ‘to do’ list summarising documents to upload and actions to take in order to successfully complete the bid.

This can be broken down into separate sections, documents and fields as necessary so it’s super easy to read and understand exactly what’s required.

More options (if you need them)

The need for a flexible approach inevitably results in lots of options, screens and settings. Complex apps can feel like a nightmare to navigate and understand.

Clearly, users don’t need to see everything at once. Most of the time you never need to look at the audit trail. Setting detailed team permissions might only be relevant in certain contexts. Tender bulletins are important, but only when there’s a message to read.

Rather than dump everything in one place, we have secondary pages behind an additional menu. Everything is still there whenever it’s needed (and we’ll notify you if we need to) but it doesn't distract from the main task of completing your bid.

Make statuses helpful

Too often platforms bombard us with data and updates simply because they can (and they think it makes them look smart). Most of the time, rather than supporting what we’re actually trying to get done, they’re just confusing and get in the way.

Clear deadlines

The deadline counter shows how long is left until your next deadline and it’ll automatically change format so it’s easier to read depending on how close the deadline is (because you probably don’t need to know how many seconds you’ve got left with 2 months to go).

You can hover over a status to get more detail – in this case, see the exact date and time in your local timezone. The colour of the status indicator will change from black through orange to red to warn you as the next deadline approaches.

Simplified bid statuses

We have simple high-level statuses of bids with 3 options – Complete, Incomplete or Waiting for Buyer. A bid will fall into one of these categories depending on what’s been completed (or not) and which actions you’ve taken.

Again, you can hover to get a breakdown of exactly how many parts of your bid fall into these categories, so you can better understand how close you are to satisfying all of the requirements for your bid.

Speak clearly

There’s enough complex language flying around as part of the tender process without a platform contributing its own jargon. We’ve made an effort to ensure everything we say is contextually relevant and easy to understand.

Talk like a person

When we need to, we ask natural questions and offer intuitive responses. We want our interface to feel familiar, not a million miles from how a traditional email or phone call between buyer and supplier might happen.

We’re not afraid to use more words if it helps us be understood more clearly – if the product feels like you’re trying to learn a new language, we know something’s not right.

Keep things relevant

As your bid progresses, you might need to reconfirm your interest in continuing to a new stage, or otherwise take a different option. We’ll always vary the language we use so it makes sense in the context of the stage you’re at and the options available to you.

Handling different states and text makes things more complicated for us but much clearer for our users, and we’ll always do whatever’s necessary to deliver the best experience.

Why bother?

You might ask why setting such a high bar for usability really matters. Isn’t just ‘OK’ good enough? (Particularly considering most business software!)

Wouldn’t we be better focusing on something bigger and better instead?

Usable = secure

We don’t underestimate the importance of a strong user experience because we think the most usable platform ends up being the most secure platform (and not by chance).

When DeepStream is easier to use it not only makes transactions faster and smoother, but it helps everyone involved continue to communicate in one place.

This ensures the audit trail remains unbroken and critical documents and information stay away from unsecure, opaque channels like email, phone and 3rd-party messaging apps.

Transactions which go entirely through DeepStream remain secure and thoroughly audited, so compliance risks are minimized – usability and security working hand-in-hand.

Procurement software teams want to use.

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