How to be successful in international development projects?

The annual meeting of the World Bank’s Private Sector Liaison Officer (PSLO) network was organized in Budapest between May 23-24 by EXIM Hungary.

The coordinator of the network, Catherine Doody was interviewed by EXIM and she explained the most effective way of participating in the projects of the World Bank, moreover she talked about the most common mistakes made during tendering and how to avoid them. EXIM has a significant role in communicating with the enterprises suitable for taking part in such international projects. In order to support these companies in successfully participating in the tenders of international financial institutions, EXIM is ready to share its experiences regarding international business development and creating a bridge between an extensive international network of connections and the companies.

pictureCatherine Doody
Coordinator, Private Sector Liaison Officer (PSLO) Program
External Affairs and Corporate Relations Europe
The World Bank Group

 

Operating from the World Bank office in Paris as Coordinator of the World Bank Group Private Sector Liaison Officer (PSLO) Network, Catherine Doody works to engage companies worldwide in the World Bank Group’s (WB, IFC and MIGA) mission of promoting sustainable development, ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity.

After graduating with an MA in International Relations from Boston College, Ms. Doody joined the World Bank in 2000 in Washington DC, initially working on lending operations in the agriculture sector in the Africa region and then ICT sector in the Middle East and North Africa.  She joined the Paris office in 2004 and works on European donor relations in addition to coordinating the PSLO Network.  

What is your advice for Hungarian companies who do not have any experience with the World Bank yet but wish to get involved in your work? What should be the first step they take?

First thing they need to do is spend a little bit of time looking at the project pipeline and see if they have an offer that is competitive, because there are certain things that the World Bank does not procure. After that I would look at the Project Award Database, because it is the list of all of the companies that have been awarded contracts. This is a good way to see who their competitors are or which companies have already won contacts. Then they can check whether they are a company that has an offer similar to the others, whether they are competitive enough. They can see where they are positioned on the market. And if they do believe that they would be competitive regarding a project, then they have to go through the  processes that follow.

What is the best stage for companies to get involved in your project cycle?

Essentially we tell companies that if they wait until the project is approved and the tender is launched, it is too late. They need to prepare ahead of time so that when the tenders are announced they are ready to go. They generally have six to eight weeks between the time the tender is announced and the deadline for bids, which is very short if they have not been informed about the opportunity beforehand. 

What do you recommend for companies regarding gathering information on time?

At the beginning of our project cycle, when we initially identify projects with our client governments, we put out a one paragraph summary of what the project would be about in the Monthly Operational Summary available on the World Bank webpage. It will include information about the entity responsible for the project, which is usually the government representative within the ministry. If a company identifies a project that could be interesting for them, they can start following it up to the pipeline phase. So already at this very early stage the company should start looking into what the project is about, contact the beneficiary entity, say that they are interested and ask if they could go on a field visit and meet with the representatives and learn more about the project. After this stage, the other project documents will begin to appear online giving more and more information about the project. So it is essential for the companies to start gathering information already quite early on.

What do you think about using the Country Partnership Framework (CPF) documents to predict what kind of projects can be expected in a given country?

It is a great idea, since the CPF is the key document that spells out exactly what we plan to do with the government in the next three to five years. It is the main document based on which we identify the individual projects. So if companies want to know, for example, in what areas the World Bank will be working with the government of  Mozambique, they can consult the CPF for Mozambique. If there is nothing in the CPF on water, for example, then we are probably not going to launch water projects in the upcoming years. The CPF gives companies a good idea of what the key priorities are for the government and what the Bank is going to do to help.

Once a company has set its eyes on a project how they should proceed?

Identifying local partners is very important. A company that has no experience in the country or region of the project has less chance than a company that already has experience. So they may want to identify a local partner that has the country-specific knowledge. A local partner would know the language, environment, culture, and how to interact with the government, providing a much stronger advantage for the international company. So identifying local partners, following the project cycle, determining if they are competitive, those are the main things. Afterwards they can go into the details of how to write a good application and so on.

Back what you said before that you should generally contact the responsible body whether it is a government or a municipality. What we usually see is that the company’s idea is to contact the World Bank, in particular the local offices. What is your advice regarding this approach?

It depends. Sometimes the responsible person at the World Bank might suggest that a company should speak with the client, this is a conversation they should have with them. Other Bank staff may be a bit more used to and comfortable with speaking with companies and also interested in getting their feedback. Companies just need to understand  that all of the procurement is carried out by the government, not by the World Bank. We approve, we make sure that the government is following the guidelines, but we do not actually carry out the process. The government launches the tenders, receives the bids, evaluates the bids and, based on the evaluation criteria, awards the contract, then the Bank gives its non-objection (for contracts above the threshold amount). So it really makes more sense to talk to the government in any case.

Do you have any experience to share about common mistakes that companies make during the procurement process?

The number one mistake companies make is not responding to what is being requested. So they see what the government wants to procure, and even though they do something that is slightly different, they still put in an offer. These bids will likely be considered as ‘non-compliant’ and subsequently rejected. However under the new World Bank  procurement framework, there should be more  opportunities for ‘alternate bids’, allowing a company to submit both a compliant bid and an alternate suggesting a different technology or solution than the one requested in the bidding documents. This is a way for a company to introduce a new innovative technology in Bank projects. It will be stated already in the bidding document if it is possible to submit an alternative bid. There will also be some procurement that is output based, meaning the tender simply sets out the objectives and suppliers are free to propose any technology that will meet these objectives. This really helps to bring in innovation and involve the private sector more in project design. Sometimes we, and our clients, might not know what the best solution is, but the private sector will be able to respond. So that will hopefully enable a bit more innovation coming into play.

What about the approach the companies should take to this special kind of tendering?

The thing that companies need to understand is that it is a bit upfront investment to get involved in World Bank and other IFI projects. Usually companies bid five or six times before being awarded a contract.  So you have to be willing to loose and learn. And if you are not selected you can ask for a debrief from the government to find out why. The client is required to provide debriefs to consulting firms that were on the shortlist but eventually not selected. So learning from mistakes is one thing. Once a company  gets that crucial first contract, it is much easier to win others, because then they have the experience and they can go to other development banks as well, as  they already have experience with IFIs.

What is your advice for Hungarian companies who do not have any experience with the World Bank yet but wish to get involved in your work? What should be the first step they take?

First thing they need to do is spend a little bit of time looking at the project pipeline and see if they have an offer that is competitive, because there are certain things that the World Bank does not procure. After that I would look at the Project Award Database, because it is the list of all of the companies that have been awarded contracts. This is a good way to see who their competitors are or which companies have already won contacts. Then they can check whether they are a company that has an offer similar to the others, whether they are competitive enough. They can see where they are positioned on the market. And if they do believe that they would be competitive regarding a project, then they have to go through the  processes that follow.

What is the best stage for companies to get involved in your project cycle?

Essentially we tell companies that if they wait until the project is approved and the tender is launched, it is too late. They need to prepare ahead of time so that when the tenders are announced they are ready to go. They generally have six to eight weeks between the time the tender is announced and the deadline for bids, which is very short if they have not been informed about the opportunity beforehand. 

What do you recommend for companies regarding gathering information on time?

At the beginning of our project cycle, when we initially identify projects with our client governments, we put out a one paragraph summary of what the project would be about in the Monthly Operational Summary available on the World Bank webpage. It will include information about the entity responsible for the project, which is usually the government representative within the ministry. If a company identifies a project that could be interesting for them, they can start following it up to the pipeline phase. So already at this very early stage the company should start looking into what the project is about, contact the beneficiary entity, say that they are interested and ask if they could go on a field visit and meet with the representatives and learn more about the project. After this stage, the other project documents will begin to appear online giving more and more information about the project. So it is essential for the companies to start gathering information already quite early on.

What do you think about using the Country Partnership Framework (CPF) documents to predict what kind of projects can be expected in a given country?

It is a great idea, since the CPF is the key document that spells out exactly what we plan to do with the government in the next three to five years. It is the main document based on which we identify the individual projects. So if companies want to know, for example, in what areas the World Bank will be working with the government of  Mozambique, they can consult the CPF for Mozambique. If there is nothing in the CPF on water, for example, then we are probably not going to launch water projects in the upcoming years. The CPF gives companies a good idea of what the key priorities are for the government and what the Bank is going to do to help.

Once a company has set its eyes on a project how they should proceed?

Identifying local partners is very important. A company that has no experience in the country or region of the project has less chance than a company that already has experience. So they may want to identify a local partner that has the country-specific knowledge. A local partner would know the language, environment, culture, and how to interact with the government, providing a much stronger advantage for the international company. So identifying local partners, following the project cycle, determining if they are competitive, those are the main things. Afterwards they can go into the details of how to write a good application and so on.

Back what you said before that you should generally contact the responsible body whether it is a government or a municipality. What we usually see is that the company’s idea is to contact the World Bank, in particular the local offices. What is your advice regarding this approach?

It depends. Sometimes the responsible person at the World Bank might suggest that a company should speak with the client, this is a conversation they should have with them. Other Bank staff may be a bit more used to and comfortable with speaking with companies and also interested in getting their feedback. Companies just need to understand  that all of the procurement is carried out by the government, not by the World Bank. We approve, we make sure that the government is following the guidelines, but we do not actually carry out the process. The government launches the tenders, receives the bids, evaluates the bids and, based on the evaluation criteria, awards the contract, then the Bank gives its non-objection (for contracts above the threshold amount). So it really makes more sense to talk to the government in any case.

Do you have any experience to share about common mistakes that companies make during the procurement process?

The number one mistake companies make is not responding to what is being requested. So they see what the government wants to procure, and even though they do something that is slightly different, they still put in an offer. These bids will likely be considered as ‘non-compliant’ and subsequently rejected. However under the new World Bank  procurement framework, there should be more  opportunities for ‘alternate bids’, allowing a company to submit both a compliant bid and an alternate suggesting a different technology or solution than the one requested in the bidding documents. This is a way for a company to introduce a new innovative technology in Bank projects. It will be stated already in the bidding document if it is possible to submit an alternative bid. There will also be some procurement that is output based, meaning the tender simply sets out the objectives and suppliers are free to propose any technology that will meet these objectives. This really helps to bring in innovation and involve the private sector more in project design. Sometimes we, and our clients, might not know what the best solution is, but the private sector will be able to respond. So that will hopefully enable a bit more innovation coming into play.

What about the approach the companies should take to this special kind of tendering?

The thing that companies need to understand is that it is a bit upfront investment to get involved in World Bank and other IFI projects. Usually companies bid five or six times before being awarded a contract.  So you have to be willing to loose and learn. And if you are not selected you can ask for a debrief from the government to find out why. The client is required to provide debriefs to consulting firms that were on the shortlist but eventually not selected. So learning from mistakes is one thing. Once a company  gets that crucial first contract, it is much easier to win others, because then they have the experience and they can go to other development banks as well, as  they already have experience with IFIs.

 

Print Email

Sajtószoba

Has no content to show!