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Problem: Multiple contact people in contract documents causes confusion
During the Request for Offer (RFO) process (sometimes called a Request for Proposal – RFP), some companies list multiple people from multiple departments as a contact person throughout the RFO for clarifications, approvals etc. Some offering (tendering or quoting) companies also mention multiple people as contact person.
This is often due to multiple departments having input into the RFO or tender, and not adequately reviewing the total document before it is issued.
This creates confusion for the other party (offeror or the client) regarding who to contact for further information or for clarifications. It can also lead to multiple people providing conflicting information, leading to non-conforming offers or to clients not being able to rely on the offer.
Solution: List a primary contact person in contract documents
In a request for offer (and also in a request for quote), and also for an offer (or a quote), ensure that the document specifies on key person only as the contact person for further details, clarifications etc.
That one person should then be responsible for sourcing the answers to questions, chasing approvals for changes etc, not multiple people.
If you are in a very large organisation, I still believe it is best not to list multiple contacts in different departments or specialties, but instead to have one primary contact, who would then contact those specialists as needed from the project contact list.
(Note: this is for the contract stage, not during the project. Once the project is underway you do need contacts with multiple people and departments within your client organisation. Just be sure to keep the main authorised person (usually the client PM) informed).
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You should also have someone review the total document before it is issued to ensure that it is internally consistent. It should not list multiple people in different sections as contacts, and it should not provide conflicting information in different sections.
This is particularly important in large documents where multiple people have had input into the document.
Also ensure that if the main document is prepared by one team and then sent to the “contracts” team or similar for final issue, that the contracts team does not also add a contact person, superseding the contact person listed in the main document.
I do believe that listing a second contact person as a backup for the first (to cover for absences) is important, but make sure to list as primary and secondary, not either or.
This also applies to when the project is running. Ensure you have a single primary contact person (usually the project manager).
Ensure your request for offer and also your offer documents lists a single contact person for contacting for further details or clarifications. This applies to both the client side and the supplier side. This will avoid lots of confusion and will reduce non-confirming submissions.