One of the biggest problems with the 'creative industries' is that there is no regulation.
This filters through to the tendering process. If you're not aware of the process; it's horrendous. Here's a little summary of how it generally goes:
- Log onto 1 of about 50 'e-tendering' portals
- Find a tender and express interest
- Once granted access, get the PQQ (Pre Qualification Questionairre)/ITT (Invitation to Tender) documents
- Edit the documents and upload all required files
- Progress and messages are then posted through the portal
This process is completely broken. Here's why:
- There is no elimination of 'duff' entries
- The documents available are in Word format
- Getting 'PQQ Ready' is a guessing game
So why are these 3 points so important. Point 1 is in reference to my original point, boundaries are never clearly drawn.
'Barry' is a freelancer. He works from his bedroom. He operates under the guise of 'ACME Design'. Everyone thinks that 'ACME Design' is more than one person.
I think creatives struggle to define what they are and clients struggle to understand what the differences are. I believe that there are 4 types of creative businesses:
- Creative Team
So what is the difference?
- Specialist in particular area
- Low cost
- No office space
- No set working hours
- All of the points of a Freelancer plus...
- Shared workload for quicker turnarounds
- Located at 1 office
- Set working hours
- Protocols and poilices
- 3-5 employees
- Limited Company
- VAT Registered
- All of the points of a Micro-Agency plus:
- All of the points of an Agency plus:
- More than 1 office with at least 5 employees at each
As I previously mentioned, the creative industries is littered with groups that call themselves one title, when the reality is that they are something quite different. This is not to say that there are some exceptions to the rule:
I am a freelancer, but I trade as a limited company and I'm VAT regisrtered
I've seen the above happen, but it's not a micro-agency and I do believe that the exceptions should be noted. The best way that I can see, is to answer a questionairre, and based on those results a classifaication is assigned (along with a list of exceptions). Once your profile has been completed, it would be saved and, you could submit in one click for new tenders. Companies could define what criteria that applicatnts need to achieve to get an ITT and then lets get the system to automate the selection process.
Point 2 is the real place for improvement though. Publishing documents and getting creatives to fill them in and send back is an awful idea.
- Re-issued documents cause confusion and errors
- Microsoft Word is not a universally open file format
So how can we fix this? Simple, same as the solution to point 1: a form on the web. Edits can be non destructive and doesn't require anyone to copy and paste the entire contents into another.
Point 3 could be solved and there are a few things that come close. I've worked on around 10 or so tenders at this point in my life and there are slight differences in the requirements for every one. The ability to create policy documents via wizards really should be built into the proposed system. Again, browser based questions: simple. Getting PQQ ready should be this easy - instead, you're left to guess or blag your way through creating policy documents.
For creatives, it makes the process easier, quicker and fairer. For companies, it offers standardisation, less work and more accurate responses. It would be great for the creative industies to get some form of regulation that's free from hidden agendas.
End the pain
Imagine a centralised portal, where you could log in and search for tenders, one-click to submit your PQQ answers, then fill in a simple form to answer the ITT. That would be good wouldn't it.
If you've got ideas on how to make this happen, get in touch.