Is it a good idea to put your transcription work out for tender?
Universitytranscriptions.co.uk has had extensive experience of tendering for transcription work with universities and government institutions.
Quite a few universities and organisations use specialist software called “In-tend” or similar to go through the process of tendering for business, and we are familiar with the procedure and can handle all levels of bulk orders from a few hours a month through to hundreds of hours per month.
Does tendering actually result in a decrease in cost?
Probably not in most circumstances. One of our experiences of tendering in the past was with a university in the London area who put out for tender an ongoing contract transcribing short files with a set number guaranteed each month and an overall cost given.
I think the person who had designed the tender had no concept of the way transcription works and in particular outsourced transcription, because in some months they saved a bit of money but in other months they actually cost themselves money by going through the tender process.
Outsourced transcription works so well for most businesses and organisations when it is done on an ad hoc basis and not with a set number of hours each month. If the work is done on an ad hoc basis then there is really no point wasting your time going through a tender because you should be able to negotiate reasonable prices with transcription businesses to get the work done as and when it is needed.
To give you a quick example; if a university contacts us to tender and indicates they have say 50 hours of work per month then our price is the rate we would normally charge for 50 hours of work in that particular month. If they could guarantee that over a year there would be 600 hours of work spread out over 12 months then we may well come up with a different price to fit this, but it’s all a bit irrelevant because it is very rare for universities or organisations to actually know in reality how much transcription they are going to have. Maybe in one month they will have 50 hours but similarly it’s possible that in the following month they will have 10 hours.
Whilst the people in procurement may well think they have got a good deal by going through tendering and seting certain minimum standards by asking the bidders to indicate their insurance position, their adherence to Cyber Essentials and their structure & set up, in reality they could have done all of this simply by emailing a number of companies and asking the question. As the value of most transcription contracts is quite low they tend not to fall within the universities’ own criteria for putting out to tender. We understand that in most cases EU regulations do not apply to universities but similarly government departments are often compelled to tender for certain contracts.
Our advice to most academic institutions considering tendering for transcription work is to think twice about it; in particular the cost of the exercise and time spent dealing with all the queries that will inevitably arise from your specification, could be better spent simply email out for a few quotes and trying out the companies to see how good they are. A good number of universities start with the best intentions by proceeding to tender but then once the process ends a decision is never made and the transcription companies have wasted their time even bothering pitching.
Naturally whether or not you decide to go down the tender route, universitytranscriptions.co.uk would be happy to help, either on an ad hoc basis or via an ongoing contract.