Understanding scoring systems when tendering is vital to your technique and bid management strategy when it comes to writing your tender proposal. It allows you to see how your answers should be weighted in terms of depth and length, relevant to other aspects. Some scoring criteria can look very different from others and they vary depending on each customer’s needs and objectives from the project and in the long term.
Tendering for contracts can be hard work. There’s nothing more paining than writing a 30,000-word tender response just before the holidays, spending all waking hours making sure the pricing is right and the content is the best it can possibly be. Now imagine how the evaluators feel when sitting to mark each one.
As Bid Writing Consultants, we always encourage you to write concisely and stick to the evaluation guide/scoring system. This not only makes it easier for the evaluator when marking your tender, reducing the time spent to tick-off what is needed but makes it easier for you when breaking down your responses to concentrate on the important aspects the buyer requires.
To make it a fair and transparent process, all buyers are required to guide suppliers in the way in which they score all tenders they release. We have broken this down for you in order to grasp the key fundamentals to understanding scoring systems when tendering, especially when writing!
Remember that the reason buyers are looking for services that your company can offer is due to the fact that they do not have the internal skill and expertise to do it themselves. We’d be stunned if you can find a procurement manager that is an expert in all industries across the country.
They are rarer than diamonds! This is why they develop evaluation guidance, so it makes it easier for them to stick to a format with marking each tender. You can have a range of people marking tenders – some of whom may be clued up in what you are offering and some who haven’t the faintest clue on how you deliver your services. To keep things simple, we always recommend that your written content is aimed at the people that have zero knowledge of your company/provision. Never assume the evaluators know what you do and make sure you always write a tender that a random person on the street could easily understand.
Pre-qualification questionnaires are mainly pass/fail rather than scored. This is due to the nature of the requirements within such as minimum insurance and other similar requests that sometimes have legalities attached. It is important that none of these questions are missed and if, for any reason, you can’t commit to any particular part, then the tender is not worth pursuing any further.
All tenders are subject to a simple scoring system. To keep this fair and transparent (especially within the public sector), buyers need to procure specific services based on the MEAT! No … this isn’t a metaphor for hiring the most delicious supplier, but an acronym to source the most economically advantageous disease (MEAT). This means that buyers want to acquire a supplier who can demonstrate a strong quality response, affordable rates and in growing cases, the ability to validate their services through an interview/presentation. The scoring systems when tendering are broken down into specific elements and is provided a percentage to determine the exact final scores.
This can be broken down even further to show what is included (for e.g.) in the Quality Section – making your bid management strategy a lot easier, knowing where more focus needs to be applied (i.e. Contract Management as per the below):
|Quality Response (Written Tender)||50%|
|· Contract Management||25%|
|· Service Delivery||15%|
|· Social Value||10%|
|Commercial Response (Pricing)||40%|
When reading through the tender, you will be faced with something similar to the below. This indicates to all suppliers what is expected from their response[s] and provides insight into how tenders will be marked. We of course always want to receive the best marks possible and in this case, we want a score of 5 across all questions. The below guidance supports you to cross-reference your response either through development or upon completion and ensure your responses include the highest expectations (e.g. added value & strong detail etc.). The tender process can vary depending on the buyer’s needs.
|5 – Excellent||The Tenderer has provided a thorough response, addressing ALL requirements in extensive detail, providing confidence that the requirements can be met in full, with added value solutions.|
|4 – Good||The Tenderer has provided a strong response addressing most of the requirements in detail, providing confidence that the requirements can be met in full.|
|3 – Satisfactory||The Tenderer has provided a satisfactory response addressing most of the requirements in sufficient detail, providing confidence that most requirements can be met.|
|2 – Acceptable||The Tenderer has provided an acceptable response addressing some of the requirement with partial detail. There are a few concerns about whether or not the requirements can be met, which requires further clarification.|
|1 – Unsatisfactory||The Tenderer has provided a minimal response addressing some of the requirement with very little detail. The response provided does not provide full confidence that the requirements can be met.|
|0 – Major Concerns||The Tenderer has failed to address the question, submitted a nil response or any element of the response gives cause for major concern that requirement[s] will not be met.|
This is where proofreading is vital! Ask a colleague of yours to take a look at your response and ask them to use point 5 of the evaluation guidance to benchmark against. Does your response reflect a high score? Is there more than be said for added value?
Price and quality split is one of the next aspects to look at as it gives you an immediate idea of how the procurement process is being viewed by the customer. You can see exactly whether they view quality as more important than price, where you may need to give an in-depth response on that side of your offering. Conversely, you may need a basis of value for money and work out exactly what you can offer based around price.
Your price may consist of a single overall price or be split into a variety of parts depending on the project. Each tender will show you how price is evaluated and typically it is scored relative to the average price submitted.
Quality evaluation is often split into categories. These have a perceived importance to the customer and often relate to individual questions such as resources, capability or technicalities. You may need to add more than is asked in order to score highly through added value and innovation in this particular section.
Remember, always concentrate your initial efforts on the high-scoring questions and plan ahead in order to allow time for checking. Use the tender evaluation criteria to qualify the tender, if you don’t think you can score high enough then don’t waste your own business time and put your efforts into a tender you know you have a great chance of winning the bid.
Tender feedback, we all dread it, don’t we? – When the doomed ‘Contract Award’ notification hits our inbox with an attached letter titled ‘unsuccessful’ or ‘regret letter’. This can be one of the very few things that make our business-fuelled hearts completely shatter!
To put it simply- we have never met a company that hasn’t had some sort of failure whilst tendering. It is very unlikely that you will win every tender you bid for – in fact – around 98% of well-established companies will tell you about a time they failed at tendering.
This could be down to a whole range of things that contribute to the evaluation of a typical tender. Bidding for a job is not just about putting your fingers on a keyboard and writing some profound content (or getting specialist support to do this for you)- other key factors could let you down which you need to take control of and act upon, ready for the next tender!
Buying organisations (especially in the public sector) are now obliged to provide a decent amount of tender feedback as part of their evaluations. This is to support the supplier organisations better their chances next time. We are always advising clients to use this to their advantage and encourage them to receive as much detailed feedback as possible. If you only receive scores out of 100, ask for qualitative feedback on how the winner was successful, and you weren’t. As mentioned, this is becoming increasingly provided as part of the Contract Award process.
Below is an example of what you should do when receiving the feedback and using this to your advantage towards future bid writing efforts.
|EXAMPLE||Maximum Score Available||Your Score||Winners Score|
e.g. if you score 32% out of 60% for quality but 40% out of 40% for cost. This shows you were the cheapest supplier but lacked in your technical responses. It turns out you were only 11% away from beating the winner in total.
e.g. out of the 60% maximum score for quality, a major section of this was a ‘Contract Management’ question, which accounts for 30%- the score. Feedback provided suggests your contract management arrangements lack innovation and fundamental traits compared to those of the winner (incl. lack of efficient MI system etc.)
e.g. Assess all traits regarding Contract Management that was provided as feedback – research best practice – due to the lack of an effective management information (MI) system. It’s best to find out which is the most affordable systems on the market. Ask yourselves what are your competitors using? What was the winner using? – Companywide Idea generation sessions help massively to ensure a firm approach and wider understanding of what’s needed.
e.g. ask yourselves – do we have an effective MI system now? Have we implemented innovative approaches? How do we compare to our competitors? Can we write a better response to Contract management now?
One of the biggest things you shouldn’t do is operate a ‘blame culture’ within your organisation. Not only will that upset staff and ignite resentment but will likely damage your efforts of improvements going forward. We are strict believers that when tendering if you win together, you have to lose together also.
One of the most important things about tendering for contracts is making sure your colleagues are proofreading and checking everything before submission. The more eyes, the better! If you find that a mistake was made by a member of your team which had huge effects on your succession of the work, then this should be an issue that was missed by the whole team and treated with solidarity, to effectively improve.
Remember- we offer a Tender Consultancy service to support the development and even review your work prior to submission.
Get in touch if you need further support with bid writing managing those all-important opportunities!
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