To receive bids for the creation of a website, procurement proceedings must be conducted. Each project is different but there are some rules that allow you to increase your chances to gather valuable bids from digital agencies. From the best bids, the ordering party will select the winning bid for the creator of a website.
Website is important
Internet presence is currently one of the key elements of the company’s marketing policy. It can be said that it is significant in the context of all elements of the marketing mix. The promotional aspect is obvious and, in majority of the cases, of utmost importance. Depending on the type of business and the website, the impact on issues related to the product, service or their price varies. Certainly, the minimum benefit is the ability to receive feedback and user reviews. The specific nature of online operations encourages and facilitates this. From the point of view of the place, in the era before e-trading referred to in the description of marketing mix as distribution, the Internet is a medium equivalent to, often better than, other elements of the distribution network. Many retailers use practice of encouraging customers to buy online and not in brick and mortar stores, because the costs they generate are too high.
A digital agency is the optimum choice
Website is very important for practically all businesses, regardless of the different targets that they can place in front of themselves. That is why it is worth considering how to choose a company that will create it. I used the word company to illustrate that independent actions in order to create a valuable website or online store are – with a few exceptions – beyond the reach of most organizations that need them. Clearly, this also applies to freelancers who usually specialize in one or maybe several areas. There may be exceptions in their case as well. A specialized digital agency provides, however, elements that may prove operationally and strategically crucial. Its employees and associates specialize in a number of fields, have the knowledge and skills in all aspects necessary to create a successful website. Finding a good partner is the primary task of the entrepreneur or manager who understands the scale of the opportunities available through the company’s presence online.
Unique competencies of digital agencies
The thing that makes digital agencies stand out, is their foundation, is their competence understood as a product of knowledge, skills, appropriate approach to customers and their experience. Such mathematical approach to the problem means that the lack of any of these elements makes the competence of the agency equal zero. Contrary to what one might expect, this is not a risky statement. Is entrusting someone who has the know-how, is willing but does something for the first time with your budget and an important task risky? It is, and the only element that can induce the ordering party to take the risk may be the low price or brilliant sales skills of the potential contractor, or the uniqueness of his other experiences, skills and knowledge, simply put – his genius…
The distinguishing elements of a good digital agency should include good communication skills and the ability to create task forces. Both are crucial from the point of view of carrying out the order. The weight of effective exchange of information and the possibility of acquiring appropriate specialists (employees and freelancers) for the project and their efficient management cannot be overestimated. In order to stand out among other players online (and that is what it is all about!), you need to look for unconventional solutions. To succeed in this, we need a good flow of information, understanding and lack thereof, except finances (they are determined by the client), barriers for the rapid acquisition of outstanding experts in their niche specialities. A digital agency seems, therefore, to be the optimal partner to carry out a project to create a website.
A good way of selecting a partner to carry out this task is to put the contract out to tender. To optimize this process, you have to approach it seriously, devote time and other resources. It’s worth doing due to the scale of the project.
Preparing the tender proceedings
Deciding whom to entrust with the creation of your website requires a good understanding of your needs, setting objectives and wording them clearly. Ordering party’s decision-makers must know what they want to achieve and what Internet tool seems to them to be best suited for that purpose. Based on these decisions, knowledge, experience and owned solutions (hardware, software, links, service providers, etc.), the person responsible for the project should prepare a brief, i.e., a document that presents the company, its market situation, goals, challenges, needs and circumstances associated with the creation of the website in a concise, clear and systematic form.
A brief is necessary to begin subsequent, no less important activities. Companies using the services of digital agencies inevitably monitor the market and easily perform the first step in the process to hold the tender proceedings, i.e., to choose several to a dozen agencies to which to send the invitation to tender. Companies or individuals who cooperate with agencies rarely have to do the work that will enable them to make a list of agencies. Certainly it will not be as good as in the case of experienced players or staff (no experience of working with various agencies and knowledge about the prices they offer based on their own practice). The source of information about an agency is, of course, the web and recommendations from friends. The selection criteria that the person responsible for the project will assume in creating a list of agencies can be numerous. Some of them you will find below:
- agencies whose websites we like,
- agencies creating websites for companies in our industry,
- agencies whose portfolio contains projects carried out for organizations of similar size to ours,
- companies that created websites with functions we desire,
- agencies with a business philosophy that satisfies us (if you can believe what their website says),
- agencies with offices near our office (this is important for smaller projects, when the financial scale does not justify going for long distance meetings) – though we strongly recommend working remotely as a sufficiently effective form of project management that provides the ability to choose between more good digital agencies.
Having a list of digital agencies, we need to invite them to tender. Due to their specificity, companies in this industry treat e-mail as the main channel of communication with customers. Thus, sending a brief and any additional materials by mail should be enough for them to reach the right person in the agency. The documents must be saved in a format that will ensure that their content will be clear after they are opened. If at this stage it is necessary to send materials that have a higher volume, it is a good idea to pack them or provide them to the addressee on a disk. Sometimes agencies share an FTP address to which you can upload the files and provide information about this fact in an email so that the contact person is able to easily find them.
After sending the invitation, it will also be a good idea to reach out after 2-3 days with the question whether the correspondence arrived and whether everything is clear. In case of positive prognosis about the continuation of the talks, it is a good practice to test the understanding of the brief and other requirements, and possibly clarify some information. Having in mind its welfare, the ordering party should care about receiving the best bids possible. Therefore, if one agency has any questions or concerns, it is good to answer not only the person asking, but also provide more precise information to other agencies invited to tender. The winner is not supposed to be the agency that’s the most perceptive and inquisitive, but the one that will provide the greatest benefits to the ordering party.
And the winner is…
After receiving and analyzing bids from the invited agencies, it is time to choose a few companies (short list) with which further talks will be held. Usually 3-4 bidders are selected so that the selection process does not last too long. Other companies should be thanked and all information archived and commented because it can be useful in the future. It is worth inviting each bidder for a presentation. It would be great if the decision-makers from the customer’s company take part in these presentations.
A good, although not very well liked by customers, form of verifying the potential of an agency is a paid (therefore disliked) commission for the selected entities to prepare a design of the website. This type of action only makes sense, obviously, for projects with a sufficiently large budget. A nice gesture is to not only inform all participants about the results of the tender but also provide everyone with reasons as to why their bid did not win. It is a way to not only build good relations, increase the probability of an agency submitting a better bid in the future, but also an element of building the company’s position as a good customer. Many entrepreneurs forget this and although appropriate treatment of providers at every stage of the relationship costs a little money, it may bear fruit in the future.
An important element of the whole process of choosing the digital agency is mutual transmission of information, some of which may be confidential. Therefore, it is good if the parties enter into a confidentiality agreement (so-called Non-Disclosure Agreement – NDA). This can be done at the briefing stage, when information about the planned creation of a new website is, from the point of view of the ordering party, worth keeping secret until the website launches.
And another little tip about decision-making. Do not let the price be the only or even the most important factor. You have to pay attention to the fact that the website is an investment and as such has to achieve the goals posed in front of it. Therefore, it must be functional, visually in line with expectations and not necessarily cheap. It should be as cost efficient as possible. This can mean something different in every case. Sometimes it may even be the customer’s expectation to be able to show their customers and competitors that the website cost a lot.
In conclusion we can say that conducting a tender process to choose the creator of the website, despite the effort that has to be put into its preparation, can only bring benefits. In addition to increasing the probability of choosing the right partner to carry out such an important project, it allows for reliably analysing and defining the needs of the company as well as recognizing the opportunities that the effective use of the Internet provides for the business.