We look at three factors when we make purchasing decisions: the quality of the items or services each vendor is offering, the time it will take each vendor to deliver them, and the total cost we will have to pay (over the life of the item or service).
Under normal circumstances, we weight the factors like this:
- Delivery time
If quality and delivery time are essentially equal between vendors, we choose the least expensive option. But if we have to, we can decide to pay more for adequate quality, an acceptable delivery time, or a reliable vendor.
When a Bid Committee chooses an option that is not the lowest cost option, they must explain why on the Bid Comparison Form. When they do this, they should refer specifically to the quality and delivery factors that influenced their decision.
In emergency situations the order of importance changes to:
- Delivery Time
All three factors are important in every case. But in an emergency, delivery time becomes the most important. This means that during an emergency it can be OK to pay more for something if we are only doing so because we can get it faster. But you must document why you made the decision on the Bid Comparison Form or elsewhere in the Purchasing File.
Note that vendor history and reputation is an important factor in judging Quality and Delivery Time. If you have serious questions about a vendor’s ability to deliver on time, or the quality of items that she has promised, that is a valid reason to choose another, reliable vendor who might have given a higher price. Again, if you make a decision because of a reputation or history factor, document this on the Bid Comparison Form or elsewhere in the Purchasing File.