Responding to a tender is often a company’s single opportunity to make a positive and lasting initial impression on a potential new client, particularly for organisations looking to provide proposals to regulated Public Sector procurement exercises.
The potential client is presenting its requirements and has a specific need, and for the bidding company it is an opportunity to present its suitability and capability to fully satisfy that need. Therefore it is crucial that bidding organisations make the very most of the bidding opportunities presented to them by producing an optimum tender proposal that has the best possible chance of being successful.
Here are some basic Do’s and Don’ts that should be considered to ensure your company makes the best use of bidding opportunities through its tender submissions.
- Ensure that you give yourself enough time to respond to the tendering opportunity: Proactive planning is crucial to make the most use of the time available to produce an optimum bid that will successfully win a contract or business opportunity. The typical timescale to respond to a tendering opportunity typically tends to be between 15 to 20 working days. Plan to use as much of this time as effectively as possible to optimise your chances of success.
- Read and become familiar with the bid documents provided by the potential client: It is key that your organisation fully understands the requirements, bidding criteria and specific nuances of each bid so you can ensure you provide a fully compliant bid. Some potential clients will insist on pre-bid responses and declarations from your company being provided ahead of a bid submission or there may be pre-bid seminars, presentations or briefing events that your organisation will be mandated to participate in to provide a compliant bid. It is key to become familiar with both the competition process and specific requirements being sourced so your organisation doesn’t inadvertently become ‘non-compliant’ and disqualified.
- Adhere to all of the rules and requirements outlined in the bid documentation: Word counts, mandatory requirements and response deadlines are included for a reason! Failure to comply with these at all times is likely to see your organisations tender being deemed as ‘non-compliant’ – particularly with Public Sector opportunities who rigidly stand by the rules of engagement outlined within their bid documentation.
- Engage with key personnel within your organisation as soon as possible: It is vital that any key personnel you require to produce bid content have the time, and space to produce or provide any specialist content that needs to be included within your organisations bid submission. For technical or complex bidding opportunities, it is recommended that a ‘bid team’ is established, with key personnel from across the business co-opted at the earliest opportunity to allow sufficient time to produce, review and complete the necessary content that will be included in the bid submission.
- Ensure you fully understand and respond directly to the questions being asked: It is critical that bidding organisations answer the question being asked by the client, and not what the bidding organisation interprets is being asked. Many bidding organisations inadvertently provide incorrect responses because they have misinterpreted the question or not satisfied the scoring criteria (which in Public Sector tenders should be provided and outlined). If in doubt with regard to what a question means, use the clarification process to gain an understanding.
- Introduce internal check points to regularly review the bid submission as it evolves: It is good practice to either conduct a peer review or continuously review the proposed bid response questions as they are produced to ensure what is being produced is answering the question correctly and is fully satisfying the scoring criteria. By building in the discipline of regular check points and/or peer reviewing the answer responses as they are drafted, it not only helps develop the optimum response to bid questions, but it also helps identify key areas of weakness where additional time, effort and resource needs to be re-prioritised to help address any shortfalls and amend. Internal check points are also useful to ensure the consistency in approach in responding to each of the individual questions, particularly where there are a multiple personnel and teams contributing to the bid submission and answering individual questions.
- Waste opportunities to engage with the client: If the client running the tendering opportunity offers the chance for you to attend a Market Engagement or Bidders Conference or any other opportunity to meet with their team (including any pre-bid events), your organisation should grasp this. Not only will this help build a relationship between the parties, but it is an excellent opportunity to test ideas and innovations your organisation may offer that may not have been considered before. It also presents an opportunity for your organisation to potentially influence how the bid requirements may be presented in the bid documents, particularly where a client is engaging with the market ahead of a competitive bidding process formally starting.
- Delay opening or reading the bid documentation: Keeping the bid documents in your unread e-mails or within your unopened postal mail is a recipe for failure. Read and review the bid requirements immediately upon receipt, so that you can plan and prepare to your resources, making the best possible use of time that has been allocated to respond.
- Avoid asking questions: All Public Sector and the majority of Private Sector bid opportunities will have a clarification stage which allows bidders to ask questions relating to the tendering opportunity and requirements. If there are any areas of the bid opportunity are not clear or your organisation has any concerns or issues, it is best to use this period to seek the clarity required to avoid making a mistake in the bid submission or spending time/effort in responding to a bid that is not a good fit for your organisations capability/expertise.
- Submit out of date policies, procedures and certificates: A clear indicator to evaluators that bidding organisations are disorganised, have not fully considered the requirements or are only making a speculative bid, is the inclusion of documents that are out of date or out of sync with the remainder of the bid submission or client requirements. It is recommended that any policies and procedures (i.e. HR, Environmental Health & Safety, Insurance etc), are as up to date as possible. For example, where an internal policy/procedure is due to be reviewed, ensure that the review date is no later than 1 month beyond the bid response deadline.
- Leave submitting your completed bid to the last minute: Whilst most organisations now tender using e-sourcing systems, it does not mean that the long standing bidding adage of ‘not waiting until the last minute to submit your tender response’ no longer applies. Replacing slow and unreliable postal/courier servers, are complicated e-Sourcing systems that typically slow down and crash when trying to upload multiple documents close to bidding deadlines. Ensure that you have somebody familiar with the relevant eSourcing system being used by the client and submit your response at least 3 hours before the deadline. This should allow sufficient time to report any issues or problems in uploading a response to the client running the competition.
If you need help or advice about Bid Writing, please don’t hesitate to contact our bid team for a free informal chat:
Tel: 0800 917 7884