Bidding for Projects in China
The process of bidding for projects in China is in many ways similar to bidding for projects elsewhere; a solid project plan with supporting documents and references must be prepared and submitted for review. Like anywhere, knowing your strengths and the strengths of your competitors is an important part of strategy formation when making your application. However, there are certain aspects that might be different. Based on our experiences, the following things should be kept in mind while bidding for projects in China:
1. Develop a network
At times, both major government projects and private projects are not made widely known. This may be due to the fact that a project is merely announced regionally, or it may be targeted to a network of bidders previously known and connected to the organisation seeking bidders. The best thing to do is to develop a network of contacts who can help inform you early of upcoming projects to ensure you have an opportunity to take part in the tendering process. Public and private design institutes may be a good place to begin this effort.
2. Gather intelligence
After a project is announced, it is important to maintain close contact with the offerer to understand any changes or new developments in the requirements of the project. Keeping up with the project coordinator to understand the changing needs will help you to be sure your bidding documents address the exact needs of the project. Having more than one source of contact is advisable to ensure that information you are receiving is accurate and complete.
Along the same lines, you should also do your best to keep informed of the competition’s position in the bidding process and understand what strengths they bring to the competition. Being able to address how you will match and exceed your competition’s offer can help you to submit a strong bid showcasing your ability to meet the requirements of the project.
3. Make your capability visible and known
If you are new to the scene in China, and do not have a long track record of successful projects, you may face scepticism as you bid for projects. These days in China, there is a large personal and political liability on the selector of company to carry out a project; the person making the decision of which company to use wants to be very sure that the successful bidder for the project will achieve desired results because if the project fails, the selector may be held accountable which could have both political and financial implications. To prove your capability, you need to make your technologies and successes publically known which is important to give you influence and to help reduce the push to engage in inappropriate under-the-table deals. Three strategies to accomplish this are to: appeal to well-established organisations and acquaint them with your capabilities, consider performing a demonstration project, and make use of media outlets.
Introducing yourself to a credible industry organisation, or a government recognised organisation is one way to grow your credibility in China. Having relationships with known players in the field can boost your credentials even if you have not yet implemented a project in China.
A second way of going about proving your capability is to perform a demonstration project. While demo projects are usually done at the cost of the seller, this might be an investment worth making. Tangible results in the local context can be an asset to your efforts.
Finally, a step any company looking to bid for a project needs to be taking is to increase your presence in the media. Whether your strategy be online, in newspapers, or in trade magazines, growing your media presence, especially local media, can be an asset to your project bidding efforts in China. Working with a local media platform to enhance your visibility in readily available media sources in China can show how you can out-do less qualified competitors.
4. Remember the local culture
Keeping in mind the context in which you are bidding for the project will be your key to success. If there are aspects of the process that are confusing or unclear to you, it may be a good idea for you to engage experts to help you through the process. You will almost certainly want to consider having local staff on your team to assist with your bidding effort by adding a rich layer of experience and understanding to your team.
By Anthony Goh and Sarah Burnham. Mr. Goh is President and Ms. Burnham is Business Development and Communications Associate at US-Pacific Rim International, Inc.(www.us-pacific-rim.net). If you have questions, comments, or would like to learn more about USPRI you can contact Ms. Burnham at [email protected].