Tendering for business can often be a long, complicated and tiresome process. We’ve highlighted a few things you should consider before responding to a tender.
Different types of tenders
Depending on your sector, or the nature of your business, you may come across various types of tender processes:
- RFP – Request for Proposal – Invites multiple proposals from bidders detailing the proposal and costings involved
- RFQ – Request for Quotation – Call for quotes from a Commissioner. This is often for a standardised product or service, so it’s straightforward to compare
- DPS – Dynamic Purchasing System – A DPS is open for a set period of time, normally the whole contract period so suppliers can join at anytime
- AQP – Any Qualified Provider – Based on a standardised service for easy comparison. Bidders who meet the requirements are invited to bid.
- SQ – Selection Questionnaire – A set amount of questions regarding the bidder, their company set up, financials and how they manage their business
- ITT – Invitation to Tender – A combination of an SQ along with method statements, case studies and more specific narrative detail on what makes the bidder suitable for consideration
The examples listed above will have different requirements and levels of work involved to respond to them. James Kent, from Your Tender Team, a professional tender-writing service, said “most of our clients come to us for help with regards to the method statements found in the Invitation to Tender or the qualitative responses that are found within an SQ”
Things to consider when tendering
1. Are you eligible to bid? – Based on the tender documents, do you meet the minimum requirements set by the Commissioner? Certain set requirements you may come across include o minimum turnover, o financial stress tests, o a number of relevant case studies/references, o certain professional body accreditations e.g. SSIP. If your company doesn’t meet these requirements, it could result in you falling at the first hurdle.
2. Does the tender stipulate ISO accreditation? – Some tenders stipulate that the bidder must have an ISO accreditation. Common ones include ISO 9001 (Quality Management) ISO 14001 (Environmental management) and ISO 45001 (Health and Safety Management). Having an ISO accreditation for a tender demonstrates a commitment to certain areas of the business and can be compulsory for some procurement exercises.
3. Do you have the ability/capacity to meet the tender requirements? – Within the tender documents, it will state the required service/product and the Commissioners’ expectations on how the contract will be executed. Is the contract too large for you? Can you commit to the resources required? Can you commit to the contract whilst running other areas of your business?
4. Experience. – Do you have the relevant experience to win the tender? Looking at the tender response document and the work involved, do you need help writing a tender? Do you have some good references/case studies to put forward for the tender?
5. Pricing. – If the tender involves a price submission, are you competitive enough on price vs your competition?
6. Growing pains – If your tender were to be successful, what would be the knock-on effect? Consider things such as additional staff, expenditure on new equipment/facilities, uplift in cost base etc. Could you maintain this after the term of the initial contract?
7. Quality of your submission –Ensuring your submission is of the highest quality is essential, as you won’t get the chance again soon. The successful tenderer(s) will often hold the contract for a period of years., so make sure your tender is the best it can be to be in with a chance.
How your tender will be marked
Each tender will have a scoring criterion to inform bidders of the % of scores that will usually be available for both quality and price. If the tender is heavily weighted around price, this would be the main focus of the procurement exercise. There will also be a tender evaluation criterion to inform bidders how their tender will be scored and if there are any areas that require minimum scoring/pass marks.
When a tender is scored on quality, your ability to write accurate, high quality, concise answers is very important. It's a skill in itself to be able to write an answer to a strict word count which contains as much relevant information as possible. Serious consideration should be given to getting professional bid writing assistance or guidance when responding to a tender that is weighted on quality
If you’d like to talk to somebody about your tender-writing needs, just get in touch with Your Tender Team