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Article Details

Published Date: 20-09-2017
Author: Executive Compass
Category: Tender Writing & Bid Management
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A diverse range of tender documents of differing sizes and complexities pass across our desks each month at Executive Compass. This latest case study gives you an insight into the requirements made by commissioning authorities and the challenges you might face when preparing a successful submission.


The project involved the completion of a PQQ for a mechanical and electrical services framework being commissioned by a local authority as part of a two-stage tender process. The contract was split into eight lots: four for mechanical and four for electrical, which were further split based on geography and value. Typical works to be delivered through the contract included rewiring, installation of heating, ventilation, air conditioning and renewable systems, plumbing, and fitting security and CCTV equipment.

The company for whom we completed the PQQ initially approached us because they lacked a dedicated internal bid team and the resources required to complete high quality bids on a regular basis. Through further discussion, and following a gap analysis, we were also able to quickly establish that there were several issues with their existing bid process, including over-reliance on stock answers, a lack of relevant information, and a failure to respond to individual questions fully.


An immediate review of the documents highlighted many challenges with the submission, including:

  • Number and size of the responses: despite being a PQQ, the total volume of work amounted to around 30,000 words for a single lot, split across 35 responses.
  • PAS91: the PQQ was based on PAS91: 2013 but had a range of supplementary question modules covering technical capacity and experience of delivering similar services. These had a minimum combined score requirement to pass through to the ITT stage.
  • Evidence: the submission needed a large number of policies and procedures and a considerable amount of supporting evidence for the questions, including case studies, CVs, and equal opportunities and social value policies, as well as the more traditional health and safety and environmental policies.
  • Complexity: the works required delivering on a very wide range of building types and working environments: schools, colleges and universities, housing, farms and recycling centres, listed and heritage buildings, industrial and commercial and transport, and ability and experience of achieving this needed to be reflected in the responses.
  • Financial requirements: potential suppliers needed to meet three financial tests which related to the lots being bid for.
  • Specific instructions on the formatting of responses and file naming structure.

Construction PAS 91 Application


Our approach involved breaking the project down into a series of steps and working collaboratively with the client to gather the necessary information and develop a set of high quality responses. The process involved:

  • Reviewing the decisions to bid: as bidding for any contract is time-consuming and resource-hungry we reaffirmed the client’s decision to bid. This included ensuring the bid fitted with their strategic goals and that they had the resources and skills available to meet the contract needs, as well as making sure they met the strict financial tests required.
  • Exemptions: if you’re familiar with PAS91 you’ll know that some question sets don’t need answering if your organisation holds certain accredited certifications. Having an ISO14001-accredited environmental management system and ISO9001-accredited quality management system immediately knocked 7,000 words off the total responses required.
  • Supporting documents: it is often tempting to dive in and answer the questions first, leaving the gathering of supporting documents and evidence to the end. However, it is essential that a complete list of supporting documents is developed at the outset as it enables you to identify if there are any policies or procedures you don’t have or which need updating and, on a practical level, to delegate tasks to specific people in your organisation such as your HR or health and safety manager. For each project, we create a detailed document request matrix to support the process.
  • Responses: the main challenge associated with the submission was the large number of questions, each of which had strict page limits, meaning all answers were required to be concise and answer the question fully, as well as provide supporting evidence. Each question was broken down into its constituent parts, identifying the information and supporting evidence required to answer it in full. Once done, we liaised with the relevant person in the organisation to develop the narrative response, sending them to the client once they had been quality reviewed and proofread. The ‘rolling’ review process enabled all responses to be checked quickly and efficiently, avoiding wasting time and having to rush the review close to the submission deadline.

This case study highlights the in-depth detail that many commissioning authorities require from potential service providers, even at the PQQ stage, and the need to provide contract-specific supporting evidence. Having successfully passed the PQQ stage, we are now involved in the ITT stage. Interestingly, this is less onerous in terms of the overall size of the responses, but is much more focussed on the method of delivering the contract.

To see how we can assist your business, fill out our contact form and one of our bid team will be in touch to discuss your requirements. Alternatively, you can call us free on 0800 612 5563.

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