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Bidding for Contracts: A Guide for First-Time Bidders

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Bidding for a contract for the first time can be a daunting process for any company. When working with an organisation that is new to the tendering process we often discover basic mistakes that could have been avoided.

This blog aims to provide information to make the process easier for first-time bidders, to understand how to write a bid for a contract. We will look at everything from finding a relevant contract, to submitting and reviewing the final tender.

Identifying a contract notice

The first step of the bidding process is identifying a suitable contract. For many companies this is where the first mistake occurs, and it is an important first step in the process.

It is important to ensure that you meet all the criteria to submit a bid for the contract. This can include:

  • Minimum turnover requirements
  • Number of years trading
  • Previous contract experience

If your company does not meet the bid requirements then submitting a bid is a waste of both time and resources, as it is highly unlikely that you will win the contract.

Public sector contracts can be found on TED (Tenders Electronic Daily) and Contracts Finder, as well as local authority sites, and it is important to read all information in the contract notice before deciding to submit a bid – this is certainly time well spent!

A contract notice should always set out a general overview of the contract, the contract value, areas of operation, whether it is a one or two-stage process and how to apply. Typically there will be a link in the notice to direct you to another online portal where the procurement process is taking place, and registering your interest there will provide full access to the full tender pack.

Completing the PQQ

Once you have chosen a relevant contract to bid for you must express or register your interest. Following this, the contracting authority will provide you with the pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ). This document is the first stage of the bid. However, if the authority is using the one-stage process, then the PQQ and ITT will be completed at the same time and evaluated together. This is not uncommon, and for a small business, it certainly saves time completing a bid proposal in one stage.

The purpose of the PQQ document is to narrow down the field by excluding those that do not comply in the tendering process. With that in mind it is important that you take the time to ensure a fully compliant submission, adhering to all terms and conditions.

A proportion of the PQQ document is data-driven and typically you need to complete a questionnaire about your company. This section is mainly compliance-driven but should not be discarded, as you can fail a PQQ for ticking the wrong box! Do not rush through the “box-ticking” part of the PQQ document.

You must also work to impress the contracting authority and highlight why your company is the best for the job. The easiest areas in a PQQ to do this is via case studies, previous experience and length of service.

Completing the tender

Should you be successful at PQQ stage you will be invited to tender (ITT). This provides assurances that your company complies, but there is still a lot of work to be done in order to secure the contract, via a successful tender response.

The tender goes into much more detail, looking at how your company will deliver the contract and responses must be of the highest quality to score high marks. Back up all statements with evidence and past experience where possible. You must show that your company is better than the competition, in order to win the business.

One way to establish this is added value – what can you provide that no one else can to your potential client? Determine this and you are well on your way to winning the bid.

For more tips on completing a successful tender please see our free resources here.

Post-bid communication

Following the submission of your tender on the portal, make sure you keep an eye out for any further clarifications or communication. It is very common for an authority to keep in touch with bidders post-bid, for further information, questions or to request a meeting or interview.

Regularly check the portal and your emails in case you have any further requests. Ultimately, the buyer will confirm with you whether you have been successful or unsuccessful. This is typically via email and also via the messaging function on an online portal.

Analysis and future bids

The final stage of the process is analysis. Regardless of the result, you should always conduct a thorough analysis of the bid. Which sections scored highly and which did not?

The key to improving your success rate and consistency is creating a library of winning responses, which are updated with every submission. Conduct a thorough gap analysis to see exactly what is needed to be ready to bid for future contracts.

This will also enable you to establish a structure that allows the progression to larger bids and company expansion. Use the time after your bid, or before another bid, to learn from any feedback, but also to strengthen additional documents such as case studies and company CVs.

For more information on bidding for contracts contact us today.

Call us now to speak to a member of our Bid Team:

0800 612 5563 or direct to mobile: 0773 940 7746