This guide outlines the benefits of incorporating supplier feedback into the procurement process and how to undertake the process effectively.
Embedding supplier engagement into an organisation's procurement framework helps establish a mutually beneficial relationship. Commitment from both parties is needed for the partnership to be successful.
What is supplier feedback?
Supplier feedback is about communicating with a supplier regarding a given procurement process. Embedding supplier feedback into government procurement processes informs government's commitment to continuous improvement in its relationship with suppliers. Such feedback should form part of the implementation of your Supplier Engagement Plan (SEP). Supplier feedback can include:
- government providing suppliers with feedback on their offers post the contract being awarded,
- suppliers providing feedback to government on a procurement process, and
- government and the successful supplier having a two-way debrief at the conclusion of the procurement contract.
This guide assists practitioners in providing feedback to suppliers at various stages of a procurement process, and details how the process can inform an organisation's broader supplier engagement strategy.
Undertaking supplier feedback can be beneficial to both parties.
For the supplier, feedback:
- can help improve their competitive performance by gaining a clearer understanding of government requirements,
- provide surety to them that an open, fair and transparent process has been undertaken, and
- can help them plan and compete for their next procurement opportunity.
For government, feedback can:
- improve its procurement process and practices,
- improve the market's understanding of government's needs,
- improve supplier competitiveness and, in the long term, increase the potential for improved value-for-money outcomes,
- contribute to intelligence gathering about the market and its segments, and
- demonstrate commitment to good practices, openness and transparency.
Supplier engagement in your organisation
VGPB policy requires organisations to establish a SEP and a complaints management system. Refer to the VGPB Governance policy for more information.
Supplier engagement plan
The SEP documents the organisation's processes, systems and communication strategies to ensure the highest level of trust and accountability in dealings with suppliers. For more information refer to the guide to creating supplier engagement plan.
A complaints management system provides suppliers with an avenue to escalate a complaint should the matter not be resolved at the procurement activity level. The system must be accessible to a complainant. For more information refer to the guide to complaints management.
Supplier feedback in the procurement process
Effective debriefing will demonstrate to suppliers that the procurement process has been undertaken in accordance with the rules and adheres to high standards of probity.
Supplier feedback is a key component of the SEP. Every procurement process should clearly outline the communication protocols for participating in a procurement process. Invitation documents released should outline at minimum the:
- organisation's contact and contact details,
- communication protocols,
- timelines, and
- the organisation's complaint management process.
Organisations should also include an opportunity for suppliers to be debriefed on their offer and/or to provide feedback on the procurement process undertaken.
Supplier feedback should also be built into the contract management plan. For further information refer to the guide to contract management.
The following table describes when to include supplier feedback within an individual procurement activity:
Stage within individual procurement activity
Supplier feedback action
Specification and market analysis
Review procurement requirement
Specification and market analysis
Conduct market analysis
Develop plan for market approach
Evaluation, negotiation and selection
Evaluate, negotiate and select supplier
Create a contract
Commit to a contract
Contract review or closure
A debriefing process should be incorporated into all procurement processes undertaken. It should form part of the evaluation, negotiation and selection process and be built into the organisation's SEP.
The level of resources to commit to the process will depend on the value and complexity of the procurement and the possible benefits the process might provide to the supplier and/or the organisation.
All suppliers that participate in a procurement process should be offered a debriefing.
The Supplier debriefing template details the information that should be collected and recorded during the debriefing.
When to undertake a debriefing
As part of the selection process, suppliers should be advised in writing of the outcome of the procurement process. It is at this point that suppliers should be thanked for participating in the process and offered a debrief.
Debriefing for unsuccessful suppliers takes place after the contract is awarded or the procurement process is otherwise concluded, and after all parties have been informed of the outcome of the procurement process. Debriefing should be undertaken within 14 days of the supplier's request, meeting contents documented and placed on file.
There are some instances where debriefing should not be undertaken until after the contract is executed. In these cases advice should be sort from a probity expert.
Where a multi-stage procurement process is undertaken, non-shortlisted suppliers from the preliminary stage of the procurement must also be given the opportunity for a debriefing. This should be undertaken after the contract is awarded.
Debriefing is not typically offered to the successful supplier, however, their feedback remains critically important to inform improvements in the procurement process, and can form part of the contract management strategy.
Collecting feedback from suppliers can be used strategically to drive innovation, better understand the supply market and improve processes.
Structure of a debriefing session
Depending on the complexity of the procurement, debriefing can be conducted in person, via teleconference, via email or electronic notification. Suppliers should be made aware that the intent of the debriefing is to provide feedback on their offer and for suppliers to provide feedback on the procurement process. The purpose of the debrief is to assist suppliers to offer more competitive proposals in the future, not to appeal the outcome of the procurement process.
It is important to plan and structure the debriefing session and to be clear and articulate.
A debriefing session may take the following structure:
- welcome and introductory points
- tender governance process
- overview of the evaluation process
- highlight strengths and weaknesses of supplier's submission against the selection criteria
- information about escalation process
- supplier feedback on the procurement process
- closing statements from supplier and the organisation
The person providing the debriefing should ensure they use tact when referring to any perceived weaknesses and provide a balance by referencing any strengths. The focus should always be on how the supplier was evaluated against the evaluation criteria. Disclosure on the number of offers received, number of successful offers and unsuccessful offers is appropriate. However information relating to other offers must not be provided.
Item 6 (feedback) provides an opportune time for the procurement team to seek value adding information. Open discussion can be undertaken to gather further market information that may assist the organisation with improving service delivery or organisational processes.
Value adding to the debriefing session
A debriefing session can also be an opportunity for gathering further intelligence and assist the supplier in improving their competitiveness for future procurement opportunities. The level of engagement will depend on:
- the supply market in question
- the organisation's procurement profile, and
- the information an organisation may wish to gather from suppliers about their procurement processes.
Possible questions to gain a better understanding of the supply market:
- How can government improve its procurement process?
- How does a supplier determine whether to provide an offer?
- Was the timeline appropriate for the level of information required?
- Does the supplier have any comment on the level of detail in the specification?
- How could the specifications be improved?
- Does the supplier think there is a better solution to meeting the organisation's need?
Possible advice the organisation can provide to the supplier about their offer during the debrief, and which can inform the supplier's future bids:
- Ensure they detail how they will meet the requirements but also demonstrate how they can offer a better value-for-money proposition than their competitors.
- If the supplier does not comply with a requirement, they should address the matter with full disclosure.
- Ask questions and seek clarification if applicable.
- Provide feedback to the organisation regarding its procurement process to help inform continuous improvement.
After the debrief
Notes from the debrief should be recorded and placed on file. Any issues or information that may help improve the performance of the team undertaking the procurement or the broader organisation's procurement processes, market information and/or other lessons learned should be passed onto the organisation's CPO with recommended actions. Implementation of these actions ought to be monitored and, if applicable, benefits measured.
Supplier feedback during the contract term
Supplier feedback should also be incorporated into contract management. For further information refer to the guide to contract management.
Supplier engagement is an important element in contract management. Working collaboratively with a supplier will give the organisation a better understanding of the supply chain and any issues or risks impacting the supply chain. For the supplier, open communication will give them a better understand of the organisation's business needs and may contribute to improvements in business efficiency, drive innovation and/or identify service delivery opportunities. In some procurement arrangements, strategies can be built into the contractual arrangement to incentivise the supplier to provide innovative ideas towards service delivery or strategies that value add to the arrangement.
Contract managers should implement strategies to capture information from suppliers to feed into future procurement arrangements. This will ensure that procurement is being considered as a cycle, rather than a one-off end-to-end process.
Supplier feedback at the end of the contract
Supplier engagement at the end of the contract adds value to the outcome of the contractual relationship. Both positives and negatives should be highlighted and reported on. Recommendations for improvements should be made by both the organisation and supplier. CPOs may wish to gather this information to assess the effectiveness of the procurement.
Summary of supplier engagement during the procurement process
Summary of supplier engagement activities that could be undertaken as part of the procurement process. The strategies undertaken will be dependent on the complexity of the procurement.
Governance - organisational level:
- SEP documents the organisation's processes, systems and communication strategies to engage with existing and potential suppliers. All supplier engagement strategies undertaken should be linked with the SEP.
- Published procurement activity plan - informs suppliers of procurement activity for the next 12-18 months
- Chief procurement officers may wish to establish systems to capture information that has been provided by suppliers throughout the procurement process
- Policy requires engagement with the supply market. Engagement with industry groups and suppliers will provide a better understanding of the market and will also inform the market of upcoming procurement opportunities For more information refer to the guideline for market analysis and review.
- Request for Information, expressions of interest or other types of preliminary engagement strategies can be undertaken to gather information on market capability (probity principles should be adhered to).
- Communication protocols for the procurement process should be established and adhered to ensuring all suppliers are treated fairly and equitably
- A briefing session allows suppliers to find out more about the organisation's objectives and an opportunity to seek clarification
- Offering debriefs to all suppliers, successful and unsuccessful, can help suppliers improve their competitive performance
- Gaining feedback from suppliers about the procurement process can help drive continuous improvement for government
- Feedback to CPOs helps drive organisational continuous improvement
- A contract management plan establishes a strategy for communicating with the supplier throughout the life of the contract including the transition in and transition out periods. The plan should detail roles and responsibilities, schedule and meeting objectives:
- management to management relationships should be established to mitigate issues that may arise during the contract
- operational relationships should be established to coordinate day to day operational components of the contract
- Continued market analysis and benchmarking through industry groups
- Contract close out meeting with supplier
- Feedback to CPO to drive organisational continuous improvement
Using this guide
This guide accompanies the goods and services supply policies. There are 5 supplies policies:
- Governance policy
- Complexity and capability assessment policy
- Market analysis and review policy
- Market approach policy
- Contract management and disclosure policy
This guide supports the Market approach policy.
Associated guidance material:
- guideline for evaluation, negotiation and selection
- guideline to complaints management
- guideline for supplier engagement plan
For further information on other government programs for suppliers refer to:
Tools and support
Access a document version of this guide in the Toolkit and library.
For more information about giving feedback to suppliers, please contact the goods and services policy team.
Reviewed 06 October 2022