Some bidders don’t see the value in submitting detailed examples of previous contracts and would rather put in a line or two or keep it vague, failing to see the inherent value of taking time to really evidence their previous experience delivering similar services. However, whilst contract examples don’t typically carry a weighting, they are ordinarily assessed on a pass/fail basis as part of the wider tender evaluation. This means that, if not done well, the bidder might fail to progress to the evaluation of their ITT-stage responses. Moreover, where contract examples are sufficiently detailed and of a good standard, they can be added to a bid library and used again as case studies in future submissions. Fundamentally, contract examples provide the perfect opportunity to showcase how your organisation can deliver the contract successfully by evidencing previous successes.
What contract examples are, and when they are required as part of a tender
Typically included as part of the Selection Questionnaire (SQ) (Section 6.1 Technical and Professional Ability within the standardised SQ used by public sector buyers in England and Wales), contract examples are a crucial component of a tender submission and require you to evidence – by referring to past successes – your ability to undertake and deliver a service within the expected timescales and to the expected quality. Previous contract examples reassure the buyer that you have the competency (requisite knowledge and training), capacity (infrastructure) and capability (resources) to deliver the contract successfully.
The importance of submitting examples for clients you have a good relationship with
As contract examples are essentially used by the buyer as a reference, you should select your contract examples carefully, making sure that you have maintained a good working relationship with the client and that the service or works have been delivered to a high standard. Provide accurate information that can be verified by reference; if the client refuses to give a reference or the referee contradicts the information that you have supplied, it will not reflect well and could lead to your tender submission being excluded from further consideration. You should therefore think carefully about the example you want to use, and provide the reference details of a customer organisation, and a point of contact, that you know will provide a strong company reference.
What to include in contract examples
Mandatory fields for contract examples include details for the point of contact at the customer organisation (e.g. person’s name, job title, email address, telephone number), contract/project details (duration and value), and a written description. You should provide a detailed, comprehensive, and structured description to satisfy the buyer that you have relevant experience. When using previous experience to demonstrate relevance to the contract you are bidding for, you should therefore:
- Keep the content and context relevant – remember you are outlining your suitability so present projects that are similar in size and scope, including how you managed to fulfil them successfully. Use past examples that are as close to the current contract as possible.
- Include challenges that you faced and how they were mitigated – overcoming challenges highlights your ability to be flexible, adaptable and implement contingency plans, so don’t be hesitant to include examples of challenges faced and how they were assessed and proactively overcome through measures you put in place.
- Outline how you met or ideally exceeded key performance indicators – referencing KPI achievements and examples of how you met (or, ideally, exceeded) them is an opportunity to elaborate on how you performed exceptionally well and how this may be advantageous for the buyer.
- Demonstrate innovation – if you have a system or innovation in place that sets you apart from competitors, don’t hesitate to utilise this opportunity to expand on how it served you in the past and could add value to the contract tendered for.
- Incorporate statistics – statistics can be an easy way to demonstrate the efficacy of the services you provided, without the need for lengthy explanations.
- Emphasise aspects from previous contracts that are clearly important to the buyer – if the buyer is heavily focused on one aspect of service delivery, such as customer satisfaction, then stress how in previous contracts you developed effective and customer-centric processes to ensure customer satisfaction, and how you incorporated lessons learnt.
- Use the word count to your benefit – make full use of the word limit to explain the scope of services and contract specifics in detail.
Remember, your competitors are tendering for the same contract as you. Your examples therefore need to stand out, and by taking advantage of the opportunity to provide detailed descriptions as part of your contract examples, you can sell yourself and elevate your company above all the competition.
What if you have not previously held any contracts
Some bidders think that if they have never tendered for public services before, they cannot provide contract examples and therefore will be automatically excluded from the tender process. However, the guidance ordinarily states that contract examples need not be restricted solely to public sector buyers or contracts awarded via a competitive tender process; any combination of public, private and third-sector customers can ordinarily be given as references and working relationships which are not necessarily governed by a formal contract can also often be used.
More so, for organisations who may not have any relevant examples to provide, immediately following the contract example section in the standard Selection Questionnaire, there is a question that asks bidders to explain why you have not held any contracts, and what experience you do have. Working with the 500-word limit, you can explain why you do not have contracts (e.g. you are a new company) and explain, using a similar format detailed above, the experience you do have. Where possible, use case studies that are as close to the current contract as possible and can strongly evidence your ability to fulfil the scope and size of the contract. Buyers can then make a judgement around whether or not you have satisfactorily demonstrated your reliability and technical ability in lieu of contract examples.
For more information on how to produce high-quality contract examples, or if you would support with your bid or tender, we offer bid and tender writing services, or contact our team now.
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