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Background

Currently I'm half a year in my first job after finishing my engineering degree. I was hired as a software developer, but since my team presumably thinks I'm a horrible coder, I got promoted away to a project lead kind of position. So I most of my working hours writing mails, arranging meetings and skype conferences with third parties or drafting concepts and white papers. Maybe a fifth of my time spent in office is actually spent on producing actual code. I am fine with this role and think I'm doing reasonably well and feel appreciated, it's just not a role I initially expected nor have any prior experience with.

Situation

My company wants to sell their trademark algorithm in a new market sub-segment that requires utilization of a technology with which none of us has any experience yet. So the task fell on me to get familiar with this technology, find out what competitors are available, how we could integrate this technology in our existing framework etc.

It soon became obvious that, considering we want to be able to deliver a finished product with a very short deadline, we would need assistance in form of external development done by experts in that field if we want to release on time.

So I contacted several companies all over the world specialized in the field of that technology and asked whether they want to develop a component that our framework incorporates. We received valuable input and drafted requirements with the help of three different companies. Finally, all these companies made us an offer and we have a good foundation on which we can decide who gets acceptance of the bid. I told none of them that they're the only company we contacted with our inquiry We have three offers on our table, but obviously will only accept one of them. It'll be my job to then tell the other two that we'll have to decline. I maintained a very friendly and nice professional relationship with them.

Question

What is a professional way to decline the offers of those that were not awarded the contract?

I'd like them to know that I value the personal contact with them and their time spent on drafting offers and technical concepts and that we don't want to rule out that we might want to do business with them in the future regardless.

Also, some of those companies are very interesting. I might want to consider sending them my resume some day in the future, so I'd like them to keep me in good memory.

Bonus Question

Should I have told them they're not the only bidders in the field?

  • 3
    "Should I have told them they're not the only bidders in the field?" Do you have any reason to believe they wouldn't know that? – Lilienthal Feb 21 '18 at 15:07
  • I wouldn't know. I never made any comments implying that we're looking into other solutions as well. I didn't deny it, either. It's just that I lack the knowledge about this area of business etiquette. If I expect them to present me a rather detailed technical overview of their proposed custom solution, maybe it's perceived as a common courtesy to let them know that they are bidding against competitors (and possibly even who those competitors are)? – UnbescholtenerBuerger Feb 21 '18 at 16:06
  • but since my team presumably thinks I'm a horrible coder you should never assume this sort of thing. If you feel the need to have a reason for this assignment, you should find out the actual reason rather than guessing at it. – Cronax Feb 22 '18 at 9:10
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What is a professional way to decline the offers of those that were not awarded the contract?

I would send a polite email thanking them for their time, but the contract has been awarded to someone else. Short and sweet, but respectful and appreciative as you never know if you will need to work with them later on down the road. You may even consider following up the email with a phone call thanking them for their time and energy.

Also, should the vendor you select fail or you have another project where they are the best vendor for the job you want to do your best to maintain a good relationship. You don't want to offend anyone if you can avoid it.

Should I have told them they're not the only bidders in the field?

I don't think this is a big deal. If they do consulting services for a living, they should assume they are not the only one bidding on a contract.

Telling the companies that are bidding specifically that they are not alone in the bidding process is discretionary. (Should not matter which way you go here)

  • 2
    Any good contractor should be bidding competitively, period. If they give you a really high price, they should expect that you will look around to make sure you aren't getting ripped off. As you mention, pricing jobs should be a regular practice; and they shouldn't be expecting to get awarded every bid. – JMac Feb 21 '18 at 18:00
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If you have people in the company who have done this kind of thing before, it is always good to ask them for advice. Maybe best to write your email response and just have then check it, so it doesn’t look as if you want them to do your work.

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