Debriefing Unsuccessful Bidders

The manner in which the competitive bidding process is managed is probably the most significant factor in shaping how the supply base views an institution. So, for the preservation of your institution’s positive image, you should treat the competitive bidding process with care. One facet of the process that is of particular significance is the debriefing procedure.

Debriefing is simply the act of meeting with an unsuccessful bidder to explain why their bid was not deemed to be the most attractive. Debriefing is a fragile process. You want to be as helpful as possible to the unsuccessful bidder, but you also must maintain the confidentiality of other suppliers’ information. Here are guidelines for conducting debriefings:

  • State your debriefing goals in writing, both internally and to the bidder. Goals may include: identifying weaknesses in the bidder’s proposal, demonstrating that the bidder was treated fairly, promoting good relations within the business community, answering the bidder’s questions, and obtaining feedback from the bidder.
  • Provide helpful information. Helpful information includes: strengths of the bidder’s proposal, weaknesses of the bidder’s proposal, and the reasons for not accepting the bidder’s proposal.
  • Protect confidential information. This type of information includes the names and the ranking of other bidders, and the specifics of the other bidders’ proposals (such as price or the dollar amount or percentage difference between the winning proposal and the bidder’s proposal).

Well-done debriefings can reinforce a positive reputation for your institution. By following and expanding upon these guidelines, you can help your institution secure an identity of fairness, integrity and professionalism.

Source: Next Level Purchasing Association (

This article originally appeared in the issue of .