No one wants to pass up a business opportunity and if that requires responding to a tender your first thought is probably ‘how hard can it be?’ Responding to tenders can be time and resource intensive but the opportunities are often big and hard to resist.
If you are involved with working with public sector procurement you will be aware of their legal obligations to tender but are you aware of how the new EU Procurement Directives will change things and what you need to do to ensure continued success.
So how hard can it be to complete a tender? Well they are easy to complete! but you don’t just want to fill in the boxes do you? You want to win the tender, you want yours to be better than all the other tenders. You want the business!
I have been involved with tenders for nearly 30 years and in this brief blog it is obviously impossible to cover the detail needed to prepare the perfect tender however there are some key points that successful suppliers always get right.
Keep up with the process and procedural changes – Successful suppliers understand the process they are going through. They understand the different processes available to the buyer, the timescales that these processes will follow, the procedural steps of each process, the evaluation and scoring methodologies, etc. Successful suppliers take the opportunities available to keep well informed; training, briefings, blogs and social media.
Think of a tender like an exam – Successful suppliers focus on maximising their score. Award criteria, scoring and weightings are specified in the tender. A common mistake I see are tenders that are full of what the supplier wants to say rather than what the buyer wants to know. Anyone who has struggled with an exam question will know that just writing down everything you know rather than answering the question will not get you a good grade.
Timing, timing, timing – Time is the enemy of good tender responses. Successful suppliers treat a tender as a project, they plan out the timescale, identify who needs to be involved, identify the information that needs to be gathered and leave enough time for the editing and response. Successful suppliers don’t leave it to the last minute.
Readability – Successful suppliers consider the reader. The people who evaluate tenders will be looking to quickly and easily arrive at a position where they can give a good mark, so make it easy for them. Make sure the question is fully answered in one place, succinctly and to the point. The only exception to this would be where there is some genuine added value that can ensure a maximum score. The evaluators nightmare is having to find the answer because it is buried in the tender, phrases like ‘see previous answer’, ‘see Appendix 10’, ‘see section 19.2’ and making them flick between pages to find the answer will not endear you!
Use opportunities for further information and clarity – Tenderers will often offer ‘bidder days’ where they can expand on what they are looking for and will offer opportunities for clarification on aspects of the tender after it is issued. Successful suppliers use these opportunities, the more they understand the requirement the better they will respond, they take a positive view of these opportunities.
There are other factors that make some suppliers better than others at completing tenders; they read the questions properly, they answer all the questions, they understand the customers more etc. I am sure others could add to the list. You may well have the best product or service but it could all go for nothing unless you can prepare the perfect tender.