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Article Details

Published Date: 20-12-2023
Author: Ciaran Brass
Category: Tender Writing & Bid Management
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We take a look at some of the common aspects of tender submissions, including what documents are included in a tender pack, minimum qualification criteria and common quality topics in a question set.

In addition to producing bespoke, high-quality bid and tender responses, our team of bid writers are highly experienced at supporting new clients in navigating the complex and occasionally confusing tender submission process. As evidenced by our 75% repeat business rate, many of these clients go on to be confident, experienced tenderers in their own right, while still relying on our consultative approach and wider bid management support.

Executive Compass’s training division is also an approved partner with procurement organisation NEPO, delivering workshops and consultative sessions as part of their Supplier Partnership Programme. As part of the programme, Technical Director Matthew Walker and Training Services Manager Stephen Murray introduce prospective bidder organisations to navigating the complexities of public sector bids and tenders.

Why public sector buyers use tender submissions

Public procurement legislation dictates that central and subcentral government authorities must have an ‘open, fair and transparent’ procurement process.

In accordance with Public Contracts Regulations 2015, all public procurement processes exceeding the relevant value threshold must be published in a public, easily accessible location to ensure equal access and opportunity to submit a tender.

There are two commonly used government websites to support these aims – Contracts Finder for all public sector contracts with a value exceeding £12,000, and Find a Tender for contracts, framework agreements or dynamic purchasing systems with a value of £139,688.

The purchasing authority has the freedom to include or exclude as many documents as they deem necessary to gain an appropriate understanding of a bidder’s organisation. As a minimum, this will usually include:

  • An invitation to tender (ITT) document explaining the reasons behind the procurement exercise, tender timetable and documents required for a compliant submission
  • A standard selection questionnaire requesting company information, data responses and pass/fail questions such as contract examples
  • A quality question set or technical envelope containing forward-facing questions on how you will deliver the contract
  • A contract specification outlining the scope, frequency, quality standards and the required parts or materials to perform works or services
  • Pricing schedules and associated documents, including for additional services outside the scope of works
  • Signature-only forms, such as contact details and declaration, form of tender and certificates of non-collusion/canvassing.

Minimum qualification criteria

The majority of tenders will also implement mandatory or minimum qualifying criteria for your tender submission to be considered. Typically, these are contained within the selection questionnaire or PQQ.

Authorities may also choose to include membership with a professional organisation or trade registry as part of the minimum qualification criteria. Depending on your industry or sector, this could comprise the following:

Industry Accreditation or Trade Body
Health and Social Care Regulated by the Care Quality Commission – may require a minimum rating, i.e. ‘Good’ or ‘Requires Improvement’
Construction Accreditation from an SSIP-associated member scheme, such as Constructionline, Safe Contractor and CHAS
Gas and Electrical Services Registration with NICEIC/NAPIT for electrical companies and Gas Safe for gas servicing/installations
Security SIA-approved contractor scheme or individual SIA licences for all operatives
Cleaning Corporate membership with the British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICS)

It may be possible to submit a clarification question to see if an exemption can be obtained for certain circumstances – for instance, if you have just formed a new business.

Common topics in the quality section of a tender submission

Contracting authorities have the freedom to determine the quality questions included in a tender submission for themselves. Procurement leads will ensure the question set considers the scope of works, contract value and particular challenges the authority has faced in the past – for example, high turnover in the supplier’s direct workforce.

Furthermore, many tenders contain the same quality topics within a question set, regardless of the authority, industry or sector. A few examples include:

  • Mobilisation: Authorities will want to know you have a sequential, time-bound plan for collaborating with their representatives in advance of the contract start date, ensuring a smooth transition into works or service delivery.
  • Health and safety: Describing how you will ensure the safety of your directly employed workforce, other contractors and members of the public is a central part of any tender submission – including any site-specific safety concerns.
  • Quality assurance: To minimise repeat visits, remedial works or any additional costs as part of the contract, the authority is likely to include questions on what quality assurance measures (including audits and inspections) will be in place over the contract term.
  • Social value: The Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 and PPN 06/20 have made social value a mandatory element of central government tenders – it is also highly regarded by local authorities and councils, as it enables them to showcase what benefits suppliers will bring to communities outside the contract’s scope of works.

Equally, the overall size of the quality element of the submission can vary – ranging from only a thousand to tens of thousands of words in some instances. To effectively manage a large tender, it is necessary to create and adhere to a strict project plan, avoiding unnecessary stress or a last minute rush to submit before the deadline.

Supporting you throughout the tender submission process

As part of our bid management support, your lead writer or assigned bid manager will ensure you have a thorough understanding of what is required for a compliant and successful tender submission.

If you would like to find out more about this and the range of bid and tender services we provide, our sales and marketing team are contactable at 0800 612 5563 or via email Equally, if you are a North East business who is interested in learning more about tender submissions through NEPO’s bid writing masterclasses or other sessions, you can register your interest or attendance here to participate.


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