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There is, unfortunately, no getting away from it. When you start to tender, there are just some things that you will have to deal with, and a tender document is one of them. A tender document can vary significantly from tender to tender, influenced by factors such as:
However, one thing that remains the same, irrespective of sector, industry or size, is how you should approach breaking down the tender documents provided. Whilst it can be tedious, the best thing you can do before beginning to write your tender, is to thoroughly break down every tender document that is available as part of that bid.
Here are a few helpful tips on how to organise your approach, so that you can be confident that you are giving yourself the best chance possible.
Before you think about reading the documents, have a good look at the portal you downloaded them from. Check to make sure you have downloaded everything, even if you are not sure that it is pertinent.
Sometimes you will be lucky, and there will only be one tender document to read, that also happens to tell you everything that you need to know. However, more commonly, there will be a number of documents for you to analyse before you can get started. Write down a list of the key information you need to find before you start to respond, which could include:
You need to make sure you are turning over enough (at least double) to meet that need. Also, is the value worth your time?
How long is the contract running for, is it worth you investing your time in the tender process?
Make sure you know exactly what you will be expected to deliver as part of the contract before you commit time to writing the tender response. For example, if it is a tender for Security Services and your company supplies Manned Guarding, the tender would be no good for you if the description makes clear it is actually for the installation and maintenance of CCTV. Contract titles can sometimes be misleading, so make sure you have found a comprehensive contract description in the tender documents before you get started.
Ordinarily, there is a draft contract available as part of the tender documents, or a section dedicated to the contract conditions within another document. Although they do not make for exciting reading, it is very important to make sure you have read through this element of the documentation thoroughly. If there is a section of the proposed contract that you are not happy with, you will need to clarify it with the Buyer before you dedicate any time to writing your tender.
Sometimes the Buyer will include a handy table somewhere in the documents, detailing important dates (like the clarification deadline, site visits, submission deadline, presentation dates, contract award date) and sometimes the information will be scattered about. Either way, make sure you have found and made a note of all the dates provided to ensure you know what timescales you are working to before you start.
Whilst you would usually submit your tender through the portal you downloaded the documents from, read the tendering instructions clearly to ensure this is the case. Very occasionally, you will still be asked to submit tenders by post, or directly to a specified email account.
Quite often, you will be expected to put your tender response into a pre-formatted tender document supplied by the Buyer. Some Buyers are very specific about font size, line spacing and page limit requirements, so make sure you have checked thoroughly for this information, as your tender may be rendered invalid if it doesn’t abide by these requirements.
However, on occasion, you will be asked to provide responses without the use of a tender document and when this happens, think about how you can ensure that your response looks professional. Putting your company logo on your responses and uploading as a pdf, not a word document, will both help to give your responses a more polished, professional look.
This is different for every tender. For a comprehensive understanding of how tenders are evaluated using the MEAT method (Most Economically Advantageous Tender), you can watch our VLE video on the subject. Generally speaking, though, you need to check what is more important to the Buyer; cost or quality. If the tender is going to be evaluated 70% quality and 30% cost, then you will know that your quality responses are incredibly important and scoring highly in this area will be essential to have a chance of winning the bid. On the other hand, if the tender is going to be evaluated 30% quality and 70% cost, then you know that it is your pricing that will matter the most.
The Central Government Social Value Model is used by organisations in the public sector when tendering. As of 2021, there is a minimum mandatory weighting of 10% on social value within public sector contracts. Some may even be as great as 30%.
Social value is the social, economic and environmental aspects that should be considered during a public sector contract. It was launched with five key themes in mind that should be addressed where possible. These are:
Social value is an opportunity for SMEs to differentiate themselves from their competitors, adding commercial value to their bids.
It can be tempting to just jump straight in and start writing. However, the best thing you can do to save yourself time and stress in the long-run is to plan ahead. You may want to tackle the questions chronologically or get the small ones out of the way before you tackle the big ones; both options are fine, but whichever you choose, make sure you plan out your order. This can help to prevent you from feeling overwhelmed later down the line, which will only impede your progress.
Planning and research are a couple of the most important aspects when bidding for a contract. You want to make a note of all important dates and what documents you’ll need. These could include:
When bidding, you should double-check that you meet the minimum eligibility criteria. You don’t want to waste resources starting a bid only to realise you don’t qualify on financial standing, for example.
Check that your business:
When tendering for contracts, you should aim to complete it with plenty of time before final submission. This can help ease the pressure and stress. Tenders can be long and complex at the best of times, so you want to allow for plenty of time. Unexpected delays may pop up and by planning ahead you can help safeguard your response in case this happens. Setting internal deadlines for you and your team can help with this.
Pricing your services right is a crucial aspect of bidding for a contract. You don’t want to price your services too little as it may result in the contractor questioning your legitimacy. The evaluation criteria of every contract is different and depends on the buyer needs. The weightings will differ, but generally speaking, you can expect a split between two or three things:
The private and public sector differ in how they award contracts. The private sector is bound and constrained by the same rules and regulations the public sector is. If a private organisation wants to award a contract on price alone, they can.
However, the public sector has certain rules and regulations they must meet to award a bid to a supplier. Public sector organisations will award bids to the most economically advantageous tender, known as the MEAT. The MEAT seeks to achieve the most value for money from a contract. A buyer will take into account a range of factors that will be specified in the tender documents. They’ll evaluate them both individually and in combination. They might include the following:
You will likely be asked for 2 – 3 case studies when going out to tender. This means a buyer wants to see previous contract examples you have delivered successfully. These must be relevant in scope and complexity. A buyer will also specify the time they should be from (typically within the last 3 – 5 years).
Keep each contract example relevant. Try and demonstrate how you overcame any unexpected challenges. This is demonstrating your flexibility and problem-solving skills. This will make the contractor feel at ease knowing you’ve completed something similar successfully.
This is why we usually recommend that you have:
Just like you have broken down the tender documents themselves, break down each element of each question. For more information on how to tackle this, see our blog about Bid Writing Skills for Beginners.
Essentially, the most important thing to do when you are starting a bid is to give yourself plenty of time. If you don’t take plenty of time to break down the tender documents, then you might find that you end up investing a lot of time, effort and resources into producing a tender response that either doesn’t meet all of the criteria, or is rendered invalid by failing to adhere to formatting or submission guidance outlined in the instruction documents. Give yourself ample time, read everything carefully and approach the work methodically. If you do this, you’ll have a strong chance of tendering successfully without too much stress!
Watch our Bid Library video on Tender VLE for more guidance on organising your tender documents and improving your companies Bid Management.
Find more helpful tips and advice in our blogs. We cover topics including:
If you need help with a bid, we can help. Our Bid Writers have over 60 years of tender writing experience and an 87% success rate. We know that writing isn’t everyone’s strong suit. But that doesn’t mean you should lose out on winning new business contracts. We offer four levels of bid writing support.
Once you’ve found the perfect bid for your business, send it our way. Our Bid Writers can take care of the whole thing for you they’ll even submit it on your behalf. They’ll let you know what they need from you, providing you with a full Tender Writing breakdown.
Our Tender Ready 4-week programme is perfect for businesses that have never tendered before. A Bid Writer will work with you to ensure you have everything in place to tender successfully. They can also help you better understand the tendering process. Tender Ready offers your business:
If you’ve been tendering but aren’t seeing success from your current efforts, our Tender Improvement package can help. Our Bid Team will assess your previous responses and tender documents. They will work with you to improve for future submissions. This package includes a 12-month subscription to a Hudson Discover portal and additional tendering development services.
If you’ve written your own tender response and need it double-checked for errors, Tender Mentor can help. A Bid Writer will proofread your work for any inconsistencies, grammar or spelling mistakes. They will also ensure it’s in line with the specification before you submit. This can help you formulate a winning submission.
If you only need assistance with PQQs or SQs we can help. Send the information over to us and we can provide you with a quote for the work involved.
Upgrading to Discover Elite can help optimise your tendering efforts – even when you’re busy. Our two new time-saving tools can improve your competitor awareness and success rate when bidding for a contract.
Contact us to find out how we can help your business grow.
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