– Richard Voisey, Nwes Business Consultant
1. Basic Rules to Work By
- All the elements, from the questions to the scoring and the weighting are likely to be different for every tender. Treat each one independent rather than being lazy with copy and pasting.
- As each tender is different, your tender response should be individualised.
- Make sure that your tender response shows off what you can do and makes the buying organisation really takes notice.
- Contracting organisations will want the best possible outcome for their procurements, so it’s in their own interests to help every supplier submit the most accurate and well-informed bid.
- The first place to start when doing research is the tender document.
2.Study the Paperwork
- Your proposal should be driven by the tender document. It is your guide to winning the contract.
- Read the specification carefully, then read it again. The tender document should tell you everything you need to know about how the buyer wants to receive your bid. This includes the procurement process that will be used, how you will be evaluated and scored, and how the contract will be awarded.
3. Prepare your Response
- Allow adequate time for writing and submitting the tender to avoid being disqualified immediately is by submitting a late tender response.
- Consider including a covering letter with your bidthat responds to the bid invitation, summarises your main message and explains how the documents are organised.
- Prepare a project plan for completing your tender response and make sure you stick to it.
- Work back from the final tender deadline. Ensure you have all the documentation in order and up to date. Allow sufficient time for proofreading before submitting.
- Submitting a tender often takes longer than you think. Always aim to have your response ready to submit by a day or two before the deadline. Contingency is vital for professional project plans.
5. Promote Features and Benefits
- The first thing you will want to do when writing your tender response is describe what you do, how much it costs and how long the project will take. Facts need to be backed up with the benefit to the fact.
6. Focus on the Client
- Discuss their needs and how they can be solved. Prove you have the skills, experience and organisation to fulfil the client’s outputs and outcomes.
- Complete quality research. Find out what the contracting authority really needs. What’s important to them? What will they get from you that they won’t get from anyone else?
- Think outside the box, help the client by coming up with ideas. They could be alternative ways of doing things, to how to tackle possible worries about future maintenance or staffing implications.
- How exactly will the buyer benefit from your product, service, your experience and expertise?
- How will you stand head and shoulders above your competitor’s proposal?
7. Emphasis the Impact
- Ensure your benefits are then linked to the impact they will make on the project and beyond.
- One area of tender writing that can be forgotten is examining the current market, relevant legislation or the social impact of the solution you’re offering. Your endeavours might create employment, develop the community, improve opportunities or benefit local suppliers.
8. Evidence your Claims
- Is your organisation the best at what you do? If so, how can you show evidence of this? It could be via appropriate supporting information examples, statistics, awards, charts, case studies and/or accreditations.
- If you have worked for the organisation before, avoid complacency and remind them again and ensure the claims are backed up.
9. Keep it Personal
- Never reply with a stock answer. It will stand out and demonstrates laziness.
- Tailor your responses to the bid. Take the time to read the questions and answer in full to the contracting organisation.
- If you are not sure what a question means, ask. There is always an opportunity to ask the buyer questions and often the process is structured so that all the bidders see the question and the response. The more you know about the bid, the better placed you’ll be to answer the questions in the tender documents in the best possible way.
10. Assemble a Winning Team
- As part of deciding whether to bid, you will need to decide how to manage the process.
- If you are a sole trader or very small business, it may not be feasible to create a full bid team. For larger firms, there are a few questions to consider:
- Who gathers information and does research?
- Who co-ordinates all the material you need?
- Who writes the drafts?
- Who checks them?
- How will the rest of your organisation’s work get done during this time?
- If you are able, choose a team which you know will play to the strengths of the tender specification. If you’re a sole trader, just make sure that while taking the time to prepare a strong bid you are still able to keep up with the normal duties of running your business.
- If you put a team together to deal with the above issues, give details of your team in your tender response.
- Emphasis your team’s strengths. Maybe a member of your team has previous experience in working with the buying authority or is a noted expert in this field. Give details of this in your response.
- A strong team will certainly help put together a strong bid.
11. Confident Budgeting
- One of the most common mistakes made in the tendering process is when suppliers assume that the cheapest bid always wins. Not only is this wrong but under-pricing your solution could harm your chances.
- The UK Public Procurement Regulations 2015 states that when scoring a tender, the buyers should give focus not just to price, but to the best price for the best quality, or even the life-cycle costs.
- Value for money and not price alone decides most bids. By deliberately under-pricing, suppliers run the risk of being seen to lack credibility in their proposals, they could put themselves in danger of not being able to run the contract to the budgets set and could give the impression that the low price reflects the low quality of the solution.
- So long as you can properly justify whyyou have arrived at the price and explain the benefits associated with your specific solution, your bid will be considered fairly.
12. Complete the Bid Offline
- Online procurement is becoming more and more popular and for good reason. However, it can also make it easy to introduce errors in your bids.
- Completing your tender responses online means it’s easy to skip a step, miss out a page, submit the bid before you’ve completed the whole response and so on.
- By taking the response offline first, it adds an extra security step. Complete the form offline then upload it in sequence, giving you a chance to double check everything.
13. Have You Been Serious about the Task?
- Proofread everything before you submit it.
- Consider the language you use, how clearly you present your ideas, how the final product will be presented.
14. The Final Edit
- Keep sentences and paragraphs short and punchy.
- Use bullet points and headings to break up text.
- Decide on a clear typesetting, layout and font size and stick to them throughout.
- Be careful if cutting and pasting copy to make sure the format stays the same and nothing is lost or duplicated.
- Develop a logical argument in your tender which showcases your solution in a clear way.
- Read everything again, then get a colleague to read it for meaning, typing mistakes and omissions. A fresh pair of eyes is always welcome.
- Use clearly identified appendices for supporting additional information.
- “Mark it” yourself before sending.
- Impressions count, so making your tender response look professional will help with your overall scoring.
- Finally, make sure the tender is delivered on time! It is unlikely that organisations will consider your tender if it arrives after the closing time. Do not wait until the last minute to submit your response; always send it early.