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Article Details

Published Date: 7-02-2024
Author: Executive Compass
Category: Tender Writing & Bid Management
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When approaching public and private sector tendering there can be the temptation to jump right in without any preparation. However, performing an audit on your business prior to the tender process can be beneficial in the longer term, leading to higher success rates and greater turnover.

Companies often find suitable public sector contracts and government tenders, then submit a bid without giving thought to the overall process and strength of the submission. This is one of the most common mistakes we find when working with new clients.

Bid writing and completing tenders is a long process, beginning prior to the release of a contract notice on Find a Tender or Contracts Finder and continuing well after the final submission. In this blog we look at how to audit your business for tendering and in doing so, improve your success rate.

Criteria for completing tender submissions

The first stage of auditing your business to become bid-ready is to look at what bid criteria you meet in order to submit a compliant and competitive tender. This will allow you to find relevant contracts, supporting your ‘bid/no-bid’ decision and a pragmatic, sensible approach to tendering for contracts.

Relevant criteria includes the following:

  • Number of years trading – many public sector contracts require at least three years trading, or alternative financial evidence showing your business is in good fiscal health
  • Company turnover – many authorities will only allow you to bid for a contract valued at one-third of your annual turnover
  • Relevant experience – bidders must be able to demonstrate relevant experience in the industry or sector in order to bid, typically in the form of contract examples or case studies
  • Policies and procedures – a standard requirement for bidding, and may include copies of your quality, health and safety, and business continuity policies, among others
  • Accreditations – in many cases these are a minimum requirement, whilst others often gain extra marks or become key differentiators between your business and other bidders.

Once you have a thorough understanding of what tender criteria your business meets, you can begin searching for relevant contracts to which you are compliant. The invitation to tender (ITT) document typically gives an indication of which minimum criteria will apply, allowing you to make a prompt decision on whether or not the contract is right when auditing your business for tender opportunities.

Planning your bid submission

Before working on a tender submission, each member of your bid team must understand what tasks are required of them. There should be a thorough process in place for the completion of a bid which will enable a smooth, successful submission.

If you have the internal resource to do so, consider assigning roles to different members of your bid team, including a chain of command and procedure for bid completion. For example:

  • Person 1 – forms, company information and data sections related to mandatory and discretionary exclusion criteria
  • Person 2 – health and safety and quality questions, ensuring responses align with the wording of the question set
  • Person 3 – managing the entire bid process and quality check each response, ensuring the strongest possible submission.

The quality assurance process is the most important element for guaranteeing your submission is as competitive as possible, ultimately ensuring a higher chance of success. A rough guide for this should include:

  • Initial draft of quality question – following an answer plan to address all elements of the question, the bid writer will produce an initial draft of the tender response
  • First quality review – the quality manager or bid reviewer will perform a line-by-line review of the tender response, making suggestions for improvements or enhancements where appropriate
  • Amendments to responses – in line with the reviewer’s comments, the bid writer will incorporate adjustments and alterations to strengthen the response
  • Final quality review – the bid reviewer or quality manager will perform a final review to check compliance
  • Proofreading completed responses – the bid response is now ready to be passed along to a proofreader, ensuring a clean, professional document for the evaluation committee.

Work can also be carried out prior to the release of the contract notice. Supporting documents, such as case studies and CVs, can all be created in advance of the publication of the tender notice, which will save time during the submission and also improve quality. If you are bidding for contracts frequently, it may be advisable to create your own bid library, complete with commonly used attachments and appendices, images and diagrams to add impact to your submission, and high-scoring tender responses to use as a starting point.

Building a submission

Each tender must have a unique bid plan in accordance with the specification, wording of quality questions and overall scope of works. Upon release of the tender documents, the bid writer or manager must read the specification and submission and create a bid plan for completion.

It is crucial to include timescales for completing various sections of the tender, in addition to ensuring sufficient time is allocated for the quality assurance process. Adhering to these will ensure that your bid remains on track and avoid submitting after the deadline.

Utilise supporting documents and responses created prior to the release of the document, but always ensure to tailor their content to make the submission relevant to the contracting authority and tender opportunity. Follow the procedure for completion and quality checks in order to create the highest possible quality bid.

Evaluation and continuous improvement

Following submission and release of the results, always request feedback regardless of whether you won or lost. This will enable you to integrate feedback into future bid and tender responses, thereby improving future submissions.

Highlight both strong and weak areas, creating or adding to your existing bid library. Conduct a full team evaluation to ensure all members understand what did and did not work to ensure ‘lessons learnt’ are incorporated into future submissions.

Lastly, building a pipeline for opportunities will allow you to have a lookahead programme for tender submissions, supporting your bid planning. Browsing government websites like Find a Tender and Contracts Finder will help your search, and also allow you to begin the process earlier in the submission window.

See our full detailed article on what to do after a tender submission for more information on improving feedback from evaluator.

Supporting you with tender submissions

Over the past 15 years, we have extensive experience helping clients to audit their business in order to become ‘bid-ready’ and improving their internal tendering process. To find out more on how we can support you with a tender submission, contact our sales and marketing team today at or via telephone 0800 612 5563.

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