After a successful tender, the Spanish contractor COMSA won the transportation system contract for Odense Light Rail. FORTEM has been advisor for the team for the tender phase.
COMSA chose FORTEM as advisor with responsibility for bid management, compliance check and quality assurance for the tender of Odense Light Rail.
COMSA is a global construction corporation, specialized in utilities and power supply as well as infrastructure projects such as bridges, tunnels, metro and railways. When COMSA engaged with FORTEM, COMSA was prequalified for the Odense Light Rail tender, and needed an advisor, who could engage in the bid team with Nordic bid experience and competencies within transport and infrastructure, as there was a need for insights into the authority approval processes and evaluation methods.
COMSA chose FORTEM as advisor, based on FORTEM’s knowledge of Danish tenders within infrastructure and the public transport sector. Even though COMSA has extensive experience in bidding for public tenders and great insight into the public sector internationally, which is one of their largest markets, they had not yet won assignments in Denmark or in the Nordic region in general.
Therefore, COMSA did not have the in-depth knowledge of Danish public transport and the cultural norms that were necessary to be able to deliver a thorough offer ensuring an understanding of the needs in Denmark. Therefore, it was crucial for COMSA to obtain external expertise from an advisor, who understood the Danish market and helped to create a structure for the offer, matching the requirements from the tender material. At the same time, there were some agreed requirements within public transport in Denmark as well as Danish norms, values, and guidelines that a company in Spain is not aware of, when the company has not worked in Denmark before.
COMSA was recommended by the Danish Foreign Ministry to contact FORTEM, as FORTEM has previously been successful in helping large international construction companies in connection with major national infrastructure projects.
“For us, COMSA is a good example of how international companies with extensive knowledge of the public sector and many years of experience in public procurement also benefit from external assistance. It is an important message for us to send “, says Jimmy Holst Rydahl Director of FORTEM.
“There are a lot of processes, that a company from Spain can find difficult to administer, even when they have a lot of experience with bidding on public tenders on an international level”
Initially, FORTEM and COMSA held a start-up meeting, where they agreed on the structure and reviewed the FORTEM Content Management Document for the offer. When reviewing the Content Management Document, all the material that the offer must contain to score high in the evaluation is reviewed, which is one of the work tools that FORTEM always applies. The FORTEM Content Management Document has been developed to create an overview of comprehensive tender material, and structure the tender phase, so that the work is managed and guide the work throughout the tender phase.
According to Jimmy Holst Rydahl, the start-up meeting was a good dialogue, where COMSA also provided a lot of input on what is good about their solution. “The first meeting helped to give us a common approach to how we work together.”
FORTEM ensured that the tender material complied with the applicable minimum requirements and requirements for Odense Light Rail. At the same time, FORTEM ensured that the offer reflected that COMSA understood the needs of Odense Light Rail – both those that were specifically written in the materials and those who agreed within Danish public transport. In addition, it was important in the offer to show that COMSA understood the Danish infrastructure and the management of infrastructure in Denmark as well as approval systems.
“A challenge in such a project is that there are many different authority approvals that must be managed. Among these approval of the rail network, cables, equipment, and infrastructure must be ensured, which is an extensive process. Although the project organization has a part of the responsibility and supports to get approvals, the contractor has the direct responsibility to get it approved. In addition, a building permit must be secured from the municipality and the Danish Transport Authority, approvals from the Museum and Culture Agency, who manages a monastery on a protected area in Odense adjacent to the coming light rail. There are many processes that a company from Spain may have difficulty managing e.g., when approval process descriptions are only available locally and sometimes only in Danish, even though the company has extensive experience of bidding on public tenders at an international level. On that basis, we supported COMSA with writing documents such as the approval processes, organization descriptions, CVs ”says Jimmy Holst Rydahl.
FORTEM also managed the planning and time schedule for the qualitative sections and completion with the Powerful Proposals methodology. In the model, the first 25% of the total time consumption before delivery is spent on planning a strategy as well as the design and structure of the offer. 50% is spent on writing and solution development with ongoing review in the team as well as tools such as 10 minutes problem-solving “pits” along the way. Troubleshooting pits ensure that ambiguities are addressed immediately, and meeting time in the process is minimized. This is important, as it is necessary to quickly make decisions, so the bidding process can continue. At the same time, it is efficient in terms of time consumption. The remaining 25% is set aside for review, where the finished material is adapted and completed.
“It was part of our review to structure the descriptions to match the tender material, so that the headlines did not slip in relation to what was asked for in the tender materials. At the same time, we always challenge solutions, so we ensure that the best descriptions are presented in the offer. COMSA greatly appreciated that we kept focus and constantly made follow-ups “, continues Jimmy Holst Rydahl.
Light rail was a new phenomenon in Denmark. Therefore, it was also important to reflect COMSA’s experiences from abroad and in this way help the Danish authorities to get a better understanding through previous experiences. FORTEM has helped COMSA show that they are a collaborative organization by evaluating the organization with which they intended to bid. FORTEM identified the Danish profiles for the organization, as there was a need for experience with light rail and Danish rules and conditions. As COMSA did not have Danish profiles in their organization, FORTEM helped them find partners in Denmark who could be part of the organization, so that COMSA gained Danish competencies into the organization, which could be in some key positions.
According to Jimmy, the most important task of FORTEM is to help ensure that the evaluation criteria from the tender material are entered, as this is crucial for obtaining a high score.
“It was important for us to present a strong, well-crafted and detailed organization from COMSA, as it was something that they were evaluated on, and they also scored top marks on the organization description.”
COMSA was responsible for determining the price and description of price regulations as well as solution description, while FORTEM assisted with the qualitative descriptions, which in this project cover description of organization, CVs, description and approach to quality management systems, regulatory approvals, environmental descriptions and working environment. When FORTEM made the qualitative descriptions, COMSA also reflected the Danish knowledge that was important. When describing the environment and working environment, it is especially important not only to reflect the requirements from Odense Light Rail, but also to reflect Danish conditions. Environment and working environment are very individual from country to country, and there are special rules for it in Denmark, which COMSA would not have a chance to know if they had not entered cooperation with external advisers from Denmark who know the conditions and requirements in Denmark.
In close collaboration with COMSA, FORTEM also produced KPIs (key performance indicators) and risk analysis.
FORTEM introduced COMSA for the Danish way of working with KPIs, where the work is divided and segmented, as it is different groups that you work under, when working with risk management. As an example, there was a qualitative score for description of how it would be managed, if staff that was expected to be available, when the agreement was signed, may be hired by some others. This required a plan of corrective action and recruitment. FORTEM divided the risks into technical and organizational, financial, and economic risks in order to be able to designate the KPIs.
FORTEM simultaneously made quality assurance on all parts according to the Powerful Proposals method.
“FORTEM uses the recognized approach for review and quality assurance, Powerful Proposals. Powerful Proposals is a method that provides a uniform and effective approach to review, where the focus is on optimizing the offer so that it scores high in the evaluation.”
It was important for COMSA to get evaluator eyes on the work, before submission, while also getting input on how to change the descriptions, so that they were written for the evaluation criteria.
In practice, FORTEM participated as part of the bid team for COMSA, which also meant that the work often took place in Spain to make the collaboration easier, but also to comply with COMSA’s need for close cooperation and ongoing dialogue.
COMSA ended up with an offer that fully lived up to the requirements of Odense Light Rail, and they scored top marks on all the qualitative parameters. COMSA won the contract as the preferred supplier for the establishment of Odense Light Rail. Today, COMSA is in the process of building the light rail in collaboration with the local Munck Group.
FORTEM is proud to have contributed to Odense getting a light rail of world class. COMSA has a strong experienced team within light rail, and it is an organization with experience from many light rail projects. For FORTEM, it has been a pleasure to help COMSA show this to Odense Letbaneselskab throughout the tender process.