What does the tender writing process involve?Tender Help 5th Mar 2021
Here at TenderHelp we follow an established, tried and tested process to ensure every tender we develop is of the highest quality and provides our customers with the best possible chance of being successful.
We hope this brief overview of the stages within our tender development process is useful and gives an insight into the considerations to take when writing a compelling and compliant tender submission.
- Once commissioned by a customer to develop a tender submission on their behalf, the first step is to thoroughly read and understand the tender documentation. This is essential in understanding the service/goods that the buying organisation requires, what content is required in the tender submission, what the marking criteria is (and therefore what is likely to be scored most favourably), what timescales and deadlines are involved and what supporting documents/proof are required.
- To ensure any questions or queries that our customers may have relating to the content of the tender are submitted using the correct channels, we provide support through the clarification process, leading on this if required. We also go through the entire tender in fine detail, highlighting any areas that we think the customer should seek clarity on.
- At this early stage it is also important for us to gather as much information about the customer’s organisation as possible. The better we understand the organisation, the better we can communicate this to the buyer and explain why we can provide a better service than other suppliers, ultimately increasing the chances of being successful. This can include understanding their unique selling points (USPs); how would they provide the service/goods; what policies, procedures, systems etc. they have in place; the background and history of the company; what human resources they have, what their organisation structure looks like, who makes up their team (or in large companies their senior management team) – including their experience, skills, qualifications, knowledge etc.; what other resources do they have, such as facilities, equipment and software; what case studies and previous experience they have; and obtain suitable references.
- At this stage we also provide our clients with a list of supporting documentation that needs to be submitted along with the tender. This is important, as many customers may not realise that the buyer has asked for these documents with the tender and highlighting this at this point allows us time to develop any of the documents that the customer does not have. Supporting documentation may include Insurance Documents, Accounts, Safeguarding Policy and Procedure, Quality Management Plan, Health and Safety Policy, proof of required accreditations and/or memberships, Equality and Diversity Policy, Method Statements, Recruitment Policy etc.
- To ensure all deadlines are met, we then create a project plan for the development of the tender. This breaks down the tender into its individual sections, phases or activities, with timeframes and deadlines for their completion (and the person responsible if required). This is very important for ensuring all tasks are carried out thoroughly and the tender is finalised with enough time spare before the deadline to allow a final proofread, review and amendments if necessary.
- Prior to writing any answers to the crucial quality questions, we carry out in depth research into the industry, sector, buying organisation and the local area. This is absolutely critical and is often the difference between winning and losing the tender. This can include reviewing the buying organisation’s corporate strategies, plans, aims, priorities and objectives, departmental strategies, demographic data about the local population, identifying local stakeholders, reading national best practice, reviewing industry publications and guidance, understand all relevant regulations and legislation etc. Also, if the buyer is a public organisation, they may have a political make-up that should be considered also. Their requirements, outlook and culture may be completely different, depending on this political make-up.
- Tenders often include a Standard Selection Questionnaire, this questionnaire usually contains anywhere from 30-150 questions, covering basic company information, bid structure, declarations, exclusions, references etc. This questionnaire is often easy and relatively quick to complete; however, it is crucial that the correct information is added and customers understand the importance of this document. We usually complete this questionnaire for customers (using the details obtained from the customer) to ensure it is completed correctly and any PASS/FAIL questions are answered compliantly. We always double and triple check all answers added to this questionnaire, as mistakenly ticking the wrong box can disqualify your tender.
- Almost all tenders will require the completion of a pricing or commercial schedule, in which customers are required to detail their fees and costs for the service/goods. Although we support customers with the completion of this schedule, the final figures need to come from the customer, as they are dependent on their individual pricing strategy, profit margin, overheads, expenses, other costs etc. We check that these schedules are completed correctly, because if the guidance is not followed correctly your tender may be disqualified.
- Almost all tenders will include quality questions that will count towards the final score you are awarded for your tender. This is the most important section of your tender and commonly decides the outcome of who is awarded the contract. This is the section that varies the amount of work required to develop a tender, because some smaller, simple tenders may have two questions requiring answers with a word count of 250 words; however, larger, more complex tenders may have 20 or more questions each with a word count requirement of 2000 words per question. Due to the importance of this section, this is what we spend most of our time working on. We thoroughly review the tender documentation, the specification in particular, to understand what exactly the buyer wants and how they want the service provided. Commonly, the questions that they have decided to ask aim to ensure that the successful provider is aware of and has the capability and capacity to provide the service to the required standards whilst minimising risk to the buyer. The highest marks are awarded to answers that comprehensively cover what is asked in the question (sounds obvious but a common mistake) using examples and case studies, whilst relating each answer to the specification, the buyer, the local area and end service user/customer.
- Once all answers are complete, we share the answers with another member of our team to review with a fresh pair of eyes. This is very useful in identifying any areas that could be improved or added to. We also have a checklist that each bid writer checks their answers against upon completion, ensuring all best practice is covered.
- Once the entire tender has been developed, checked and reviewed, we share a first draft with the customer with ample time prior to the submission deadline, enabling them to review all content and ensure they are happy with the tender.
- We then make any final amendments or additions as requested by the customer and carry out one final check that all elements of the tender have been answered. Before sharing the final tender with the customer, we carry out one final proofread of the entire tender, ensuring all questions are answered to our high standards, all questions in the standard selection questionnaire are answered correctly, all supporting documentation is finalised and the pricing schedule is completed compliantly.
- Once the tender is complete and all parties are happy with the final copy, we either support the customer to submit the tender themselves or we can submit it for them if they find the online submission process difficult or challenging.
- Following submission of the tender, it is always useful to ask the buying organisation to provide feedback on your tender (whether you are successful or not) upon contract award.
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