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Security firms can indeed guarantee steady, reliable workstreams from public sector contracts and frameworks. With plenty of business opportunities for firms, big or small, annually, there are numerous contracts suitable for varying business sizes. Indeed, our Head of Bid Management, Dan Hall, served as an in-house security tender writer for over 2 years.
Typically, buyers across the private and public sector issue tender exercises for the provision of security services including:
These services may be delivered for a variety of clients across different sectors, including social housing, education, events and many more.
This blog breaks down the typical stages in a security tender and what they entail, as well as the best ways to approach each section.
As is standard practice with most tenders, the pre-qualification stage is typically the first stage of shortlisting. This is where potential suppliers are evaluated via a pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) or Standard Selection Questionnaire (SQ). These stages assess previous experience and technical competency, demonstrated through the likes of case studies, accreditations and simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers. Broken down, typical PQQ questions include:
This includes registration numbers (e.g. companies house, SIA etc.), office locations and parent company details, if applicable. Often, you will be asked whether you are subcontracting any aspect of the service. If so, the buyer may ask for specific details and a breakdown of every subcontractor you propose to use.
Often, minimum turnover thresholds are specified here that you must meet in order to progress to the tender stage. Moreover, you are often requested to prove basic financial stability, usually in the form of providing accounts or profit/loss statements.
As long as you haven’t committed fraud, hired slaves or became a James Bond villain overnight, you should be fine on this one.
These typically take the form of case study questions, requiring an overview of 3 contracts you have delivered within the past five years.
PQQs are typically used as an indicator of what you have done – not what you will do. As such, many questions are often marked on the basis of pass/fail, rather than individually scored or weighted questions like later ITT responses. The only exception from this being the technical and professional ability stages, which we shall touch on in a moment.
The supplier has been convicted of:
fraud or theft within the meaning of the Theft Act 1968, the Theft Act (Northern Ireland) 1969, the Theft Act 1978 or the Theft (Northern Ireland) Order 1978;
If we answer yes to this, we will fail the question, and automatically be excluded from shortlisting to the tender stage.
Technical and professional ability questions typically require you to provide three examples – case studies if you like – of similar works or services you have delivered within the past five years.
You should always select case studies most relevant to the services you are bidding for. For example, if you’re bidding to provide Manned Guarding services to an educational institution, you should aim to use three previous examples of providing these services to other educational institutions.
Naturally, this isn’t always possible for new start-ups. In this instance, consider what services you have delivered. As an example, you could be providing CCTV and alarm response in the social housing sector, but you wish to expand into the educational and private sectors. Consider what challenges and concerns you have overcome and learnt from delivering these contracts, and the relevance to these have to the contract’s sector.
Regardless of whether you’re a first-time tenderer or a dedicated team of security tender writers, the best way to approach a PQQ is to ensure your organisation has the necessary measures in place, and that the weighted questions explicitly depict your organisation’s competence.
Typically, in scored sections of any PQQ, suppliers must meet a minimum threshold score to pass to the next stage, however, this varies from buyer to buyer.
Successful PQQ applicants will progress to the ITT stage, in which they will be required to deliver a proposal as to how they will deliver the services in the contract. It should be noted that some buyers may forgo the PQQ stage altogether, instead, inviting all interested suppliers to tender.
From our experience, security tenders follow one of two approaches: either set quality questions or a free-flowing proposal.
The former typically asks you to provide specific method statements or responses to a series of questions, often with a restricted word, page or character counts. Typically, in security tenders, these entail:
This may include your staffing structure and how you rota/schedule staff day-to-day. In this instance, you might discuss the likes of an order management or rota system, and how your guards communicate with service desks/centres etc. Basically, you want to demonstrate you are sufficiently staffed and you can always see what your guards/patrols are doing.
How do we make sure our staff are doing their job properly? Quality assurance may include making sure our guards are SIA accredited, whilst control will cover our approach to audits and inspections. As with any tender – the more accreditations you have, such as ISO 9001, NASDU and SIA, the better your scores on these questions.
You can sometimes be disqualified from tenders if you don’t hold the required accreditations.
What experience does your company have of delivering similar contracts? This can range from broad, company overview and experience questions to specific case studies, depending on the buyer. As with any PQQ response, you should clearly articulate how what you have done demonstrates what you can do, even if it involves discussing the shared challenges and considerations of delivering slightly different services or to different clients.
What measures do we implement across the organisation to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of our staff? Specific health and safety questions to the security sector could include out of hours procedures, lone working and handling conflict – how are these managed? Not only that, but how do you make sure these are aligned to best practice?
This can often be a generic question, asking you to detail how you plan to deliver the service. This can include aspects of resource management, all the way down to specific details such as exactly what staff will be doing, where and when.
As these can be overarching questions, you will want to consider factors such as:
Another approach is a free-flowing proposal. Sometimes, buyers give you a guide as to what structure you should use. However, buyers can simply ask for a proposal, with no word count, in which you are free to approach this however you wish. With free-flowing proposals, security tender writers will always do the following:
Don’t make the buyer go searching for what they want to read. Clearly signpost each section.
You want to really think of every aspect of service delivery and reassure the buyer you have thought this through.
Discuss factors that clearly indicate your competence, including adherence to British Standards, SIA, ISO 9001 etc.
Regardless of the proposal format or size, our team of security tender writers can guide you through the tendering process. We complete the quality responses for you, via our Tender Writing service or reviewing and feeding back, via our Tender Mentor service.
Security tenders tend to be quite generic in terms of their approach and question sets. Nevertheless, these tips will steer you in the right direction:
As with any tender – you’ve got to consider your competition. Even if it’s not explicitly asked in the question, buyers are going to want to see why you are the best provider of security firm; what is your USP? For example, how can you respond to alarm callouts faster than your competitors? What will you do that other suppliers won’t?
It’s all well and good to say, for example, that we have a robust quality management system. How is it so, and what can we do to evidence this? Using the above as an example: how do our accreditations to ISO 9001 and SIA demonstrate we are best suited for the job?
Remember that buyers will be reading potentially hundreds of submissions. Don’t frustrate them: make sure you signpost throughout your submissions and clearly answer the question at hand.
This is crucial for a number of reasons: firstly, you need to demonstrate that you understand exactly what the buyer requires, and secondly, you want to make sure you can meet every single aspect. There’s no point in putting together a tender if you can’t meet the specification – for example, if it is a requirement to be SIA accredited, there’s no point in responding if you aren’t.
Have you found a security contract you wish to bid for? If you require assistance, why not look at some of our tender support services. Our team of security bid writers can help you write a tender from scratch, via our Tender Writing service, or support you with a tender you’ve already written, providing feedback and guidance, via our Tender Mentor service. We can help you tender for contracts and write a winning bid.
Find more helpful tips and advice in our blogs. We cover topics including:
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