Many people think completing a PQQ or tender document is simply a case of ticking the right boxes, including some marketing material and perhaps a few supporting documents, and that because they’ve done that they will be awarded the contract because they meet all the requirements.
In reality, most bids are a lot more complex than this and will require both compliance and quality in order for you to be the most successful bidder. We discuss the importance of both when writing a tender.
It is right to think that there is an element of ‘box ticking’ in a bid submission and ‘yes/no’ questions that need to be answered. This is usually in the form of a data section or questionnaire and will include basic company information, self-certifying that your company can legally deliver the product or service, and confirming your certifications and memberships.
We cannot stress enough how important it is to a) check that you can answer all the questions correctly and can indeed deliver the work outlined, and b) undertake a compliance check of your questionnaire once it is complete. A lot of the ‘yes/no’ questions will be pass/fail and if you answer incorrectly (even by accident), you may have cost your company the whole bid. The data section can be fairly straightforward in a bid, especially at PQQ stage, but we have seen extremely complex questionnaires with multiple sections in Excel and hundreds of boxes to tick, all of which ultimately create a large margin for error.
As most contracting authorities move towards e-procurement (or e-tendering), it is likely you will need to submit a copy of your tender submission via an online portal. Online portals allow the contracting authority to communicate and share important information with all bidders in a central location; however, the downside of the online method is that there can be a lot of documents to complete, attach and upload, which can be both difficult and time consuming.
Even our bid writers have fallen foul of finding an additional attachment to complete late on in the bid writing process that had been missed in the first instance. Fortunately, our quality assurance process meant the omissions were spotted in time! Ensure that you (and a colleague if possible) compile all qualitative and financial documents as early on as possible, and then once you have uploaded everything to the portal, do a final compliance check to confirm nothing has been missed.
After completing any data or questionnaire sections of your bid, there will almost certainly be a number of quality questions that require narrative responses. This is the section of your tender which, although it needs to comply with the evaluation criteria, is ultimately driven by the quality of your writing and responses. We recommend an evidence-based approach, which combines persuasive, well-written narrative with statistics, evidence and case studies to strengthen your points.
You also need to consider the actual content of your narrative responses. Are you offering the contracting authority value for money, innovations and risk-averse operations? If not, this is something to consider, because a well-written, compliant bid is nothing without the core practices and processes in place to deliver the product or service to a high standard.
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