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Article Details

Published Date: 30-08-2023
Author: Ciaran Brass
Category: Tender Writing & Bid Management
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Bid planning for quality responses mitigates a haphazard approach to tender writing, maximising your chances of a contract award. Far from a desk-clearing exercise, creating a strong bid plan tailored to the opportunity is one of the cornerstones in writing a high-quality tender.

Planning your bid responses ensures your tender will be more than simply a compliant submission which meets the minimum requirements, but gives you the best possible chance of success. As part of our bid and tender process developed over more than 7,000 SQ and ITT submissions, each project begins with a member of our writing team producing a bid plan tailored to the opportunity.

The following examples illustrate how creating a plan for your bid will support an organised, high-quality submission which offers you the best possible chance of success.

Ensure the specification is correctly referenced

The first step of any tender exercise should always be to carefully read all documents within the tender pack. The contract specification in particular can provide valuable information to ensure your responses are well-evidenced and align with what the authority is looking for. Examples include:

  • Compliance with requisite British Standards and technical specifications for parts and materials, demonstrating your supply chain capacity and staff capability in adhering to legal requirements.
  • Contract KPIs demonstrating that you have a clear understanding of the contract requirements and have made considerations for how to effectively meet and exceed them.
  • Compliance with mandatory tasks during mobilisation, such as training of TUPE staff or contract-specific training on a job management system used by the contracting authority.
  • Any social value commitments identified by the buyer as a priority/mandatory element within the tender documents, such as aligning with a council’s net zero by 2030 target.

Specification references are a balancing act. Using them to support a larger point is typically the aim – too many references could give evaluators the feeling you are ‘indexing’ the contract, and will also use up valuable words which could be used to evidence your tender through other, less direct methods.

Align responses with the wording of the question

Within bid planning, it is important to break the wording of the question down into constituent parts to ensure all aspects of the question have been sufficiently addressed. Partial answers or omitting sections of a question will result in reduced marks, limiting your tender’s winning potential.

Additionally, it is equally crucial to ensure you use the same terminology found within the question body when writing a response. For example, if the authority is asking for details and experience of a ‘contract manager’ which you would refer to as an ‘account manager’, it is always best to adhere to their definitions. Introducing an unfamiliar or unspecified term could risk confusion or miscommunication between the tenderer and authority, and lead to a response getting marked down.

Finally, it is always advisable to structure the response in accordance with the order of the question. For example, bid planning the response by using subheadings to organise a question’s bullet points or main topics will mitigate any surprises for evaluators when marking your tender.

Create a well-structured bid response which flows smoothly

In addition to aligning with the specification and wording of the question, bid planning can also aid in structuring responses, making them understandable and easy to read for the evaluator. A structured and organised response makes it easier for evaluators to identify key pieces of information, translating to higher marks and chances of success. As a minimum, a well-structured response includes:

  • Clean, clear and consistent formatting, using a font and size requested by the authority (e.g. Arial, size 11, 1.5 spacing) if specified
  • Using images, flow charts and tables where appropriate to create a clear, readable and informative document
  • Using subheadings, separate paragraphs and bulleted points to ensure sufficient white space and avoid a ‘wall of text’ approach.

Although the overall design of tender responses is not a part of the evaluation criteria, a well-presented and well-structured response will make a strong first impression on the authority’s evaluating team.

Integrate unique selling points and ‘win themes’

Bid planning also gives the opportunity for you to begin thinking about how best to integrate your organisation’s USPs and ‘win themes’ into bid responses, demonstrating your suitability and potential added value to the buyer. This could comprise:

  • KPI performance and compliance on similar contracts which would apply, such as customer satisfaction, a limited number of recalls/defects or emergency and responsive callouts.
  • Unique systems or processes for delivering works or services, such as a job management system with client portal functionality or real-time vehicle/operative tracking, allowing remote monitoring and audits.
  • Added value which you can realistically provide outside the contract’s scope of works. For example, providing additional rounds/patrols on a security tender or producing cost savings by extending systems approaching obsolescence on a facilities management contract.

Identifying how you can integrate USPs, win themes or evidence from previous successes into responses will support the creation of a compelling, persuasive submission – convincing the evaluators that you are best suited to deliver the contract.

Bid planning all SQ and ITT responses is an integral part of our quality process, with our management system certified to an ISO 9001:2015 standard. If you would like to know more about the bid and tender services we offer, reach out to a member of our sales and marketing team at 0800 612 5563 or via email for an exploratory call or free, no-obligation quotation.


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