In the current financial climate, many companies are tendering for Government contracts to boost much needed revenues. Covering all bases is essential for winning tenders, so we have compiled some advice for companies new to the tendering process with help from specialist DHR Interim.
1. Be Thorough
Read all of the documentation in detail. There is no such thing as a generic tender! There will always be one or two different requirements within a number of tenders. Get several people to read the tender and discuss together what it means. If there are things that are not clear to you, ask a written question (there is always a process for a limited amount of time to do this) so that you find out what they mean. Don’t just guess and run the risk of being eliminated because of a misunderstanding.
2. Ensure Compatibility
Ensure you are able to deliver all of the elements of the specification before you start writing. The more elements you can’t satisfy, the less chance you have of scoring well – hence less chance of winning the tender. If it is a new service that is being commissioned then you need to be able to demonstrate that you have done this or something similar before.
3. Answer Everything
Make sure you answer each component of a question. Often there are several questions in one. Go through the questions and highlight each separate element before you start writing, then use these as headings in your response. This helps the reader cross-reference your response to their requirements and makes it easier for them to score your submission.
4. Use Criteria
Use the evaluation criteria if they are provided. They are there to help you understand the critical things you need to cover in your response and will help you identify any gateway questions – those that you must be able to say yes or in some circumstances, no to – in order to be invited to the next stage of the tendering process.
5. Provide Evidence
Provide evidence for all of the claims and statements you make. Evidence can be in the form of real life examples, documents which show you are good at what you are offering (e.g. information and performance data that shows you are able to do the work well), quotations and testimonials (and references) from people who have experienced your work. It is not enough to say you are good at something, you’ll need to prove it!
6. Be Concise
Ensure that all of your answers are concise and to the point: Often word or page limits are given. Under no circumstances exceed these as the excess will not be scored. Check if you can use appendices. If so this is a good way to provide supporting information in relation to the points you are making but not a way to extend the word / page limits.
7. Allocate Times
Do make sure you leave plenty of time for a review and changes. Don’t underestimate how long your tender submission will take. None of us likes paperwork or filling out forms but you need to submit the best document possible – you only get one chance to make a first impression and it could just lead to a juicy order!
8. Be Prepared
Remember that the tendering process can be in a number of stages; where you are short listed from one stage to the next.
- Choosing like-minded suppliers
- Energy usage (incl. water)
- Recycling and waste management
- Use of stationary and other goods
The Expression of Interest stage (EOI) – where you tell the commissioner that you want to be involved. Usually no more than an email – or increasingly an on-line request via one of the many e-procurement websites.
The pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) which asks for basic information and financial data about your company. However, increasingly there are a few key questions at this stage about what your overall approach will be – so you need to know what you want to do even at this very early stage.
The Invitation to Tender (ITT) – you must ‘pass’ the PQQ stage to be invited to tender – you will receive written confirmation that you have been invited (letter or email) and all of the formal tender documents. All of the preceding seven tips are relevant at this stage.
The Interview/Presentation – this is the stage that most people fall down on – they forget that they are still in a competition! Don’t forget – the assessment could begin the minute you enter the building – so go prepared, ready and professional.
9. Positive Impression
Make a good impression in person. At the interview/presentation the commissioners are assessing you as people – are you the sort of people they would be able to work with?; do you come across as believable and does it seem as though you really do know what you are talking about? So if you have spent 15 days writing your Tender – don’t blow it when you are invited to the interview by spending just one hour on preparing for the interview/presentation. Spend 1-2 days preparing and make sure that everyone who has been involved in the written document is also involved in the interview/presentation. Lastly, remember to practice your presentation before you do it for real!
10. Get Advice
If you are new to all this get professional help. It really does make a difference. Generally companies who do the tendering themselves will be successful once in every five submissions. With professional help you can improve your win rate significantly – in some cases to winning one tender in every two submitted!