As a one-person business (and proud of it – except when it comes to a rather lonely Christmas party), I rarely get involved in tendering (tenderising?). Usually someone contacts me, says “Can you do our training?”, and I say “Oh, go on then, if I must” – and then I do their training. I’ve never been asked to take part in a beauty parade (stop sniggering at the back). But a couple of weeks ago someone I know from another part of my life got in touch and said that her consultancy firm was bidding for some work and would I come on board as their AML training specialist. Well, call me a “specialist” and I’m putty in your hands. (Don’t even ask what I’d do if you called me an “expert” – be still my beating ego.)
But it turns out that tendering is not all that glamorous, and is actually rather like wading through knee-high Alphabetti Spaghetti. First we had to submit our EOI – no, not a gloomy yet poetic donkey, but an Expression of Interest. They then handed back two documents: an RFP and an RFQ – requests respectively for proposal and quotation. And after much editing of paragraphs to make ourselves sound breathless with excitement, we were rewarded with an ITT – invitation to tender. Then the fun began. How could I jazz up an ordinary tale of AML training to make it sound as though I had single-handedly defeated the world’s criminals? And – here’s the tricky bit – without mentioning the client.
You see, I am very sensitive when it comes to talking in detail about my clients and their AML business. Many clients very kindly say that I can name them on my website, and so I do (www.thinkingaboutcrime.com/clients.htm), but only in the most anodyne terms. I do not go into any specifics, as I think it is (literally) no-one else’s business. (This is also the reason why I resist talking to clients on my mobile phone when I am out and about, in case I am asked to comment on in-house procedures – you never know who’s listening.) But for this tender, how could I demonstrate that my AML training was the answer to all the client’s ills, if I couldn’t itemise those ills? It took some clever footwork, but I think I managed it – although of course the proof will be in the pudding (as in, will they be pudding me in front of their staff). I wonder how tender-experts deal with this dilemma – perhaps there is a special code they use, like in lonely hearts columns. Anyway, now we wait, apparently. Thank goodness: I need a lie-down in a darkened room, with liberal application of Jaffa Cakes, after all that tendering.