Beginning the tendering process can seem like a daunting prospect and may leave you wondering ‘where do I start?’ The process of considering the pros and cons of bidding, registering your interest, navigating the electronic portal, reading the tender documents and submitting clarifications can be time consuming. All before you have the chance to begin the writing and/or pricing process.
To organise the process and save your organisation some valuable time, there are a few things to consider before you reply to a tender invitation.
What is a tender invitation?
An invitation to tender is a written request sent by buyers to potential suppliers, requiring specific information which will be evaluated as part of the selection process. As the supplier or bidder, you will be asked to submit your response to the tender, so that the buyer in question can evaluate your suitability based on two criteria: the value of your pricing and quality of your written response.
Essentially, the buyer is an organisation, or group of organisations, looking to tender services to a reliable supplier. Typically, this is either because they have a large project to complete or they do not have the in-house capacity to meet the demands of the service. Within the public sector, this is local councils, NHS, housing associations etc. You should first consider your suitability to deliver these services to the buyer before taking any further action.
Finding and reviewing the requirements of a contract
First you must source a suitable contract notice from the Find a Tender or Contracts Finder government website, or the relevant contract publishers for private sector tenders, to identify a contract that is out to tender in the market. Here, you should find a brief description of the required service where you can make an initial assessment of your suitability before proceeding any further.
Next, you can register on the relevant electronic portal, if not already registered, which can typically be found by clicking the hyperlink on the contract notice. This is the place where all procurement activity and communication will take place. Once registered, you will find a ‘find opportunities’ section of the webpage that will allow you to search for the relevant opportunity by the title of the contract or name of buyer.
Once the opportunity is identified, you can inform the buyer of your intent to bid by ‘registering your interest’ – this does not commit you to submit a bid but it does provide access to full documentation. You can now access and download the tender documents, which will typically include an invitation to tender document, service specification, submission instructions and a pricing document. PQQ/SQ submissions may come with a single document which intends to disqualify unqualified suppliers before the quality and pricing evaluation stage.
Review all documents in full, especially the service specification, to assess your suitability, capability and wiliness to provide the required services. For instance, you may discover that you do not meet their minimum criteria for turnover when reviewing the tender documents, and this should then be a ‘no bid’.
Submitting a clarification question
After reviewing the tender document, you may decide that you wish to proceed with the bid, but you are unsure on a particular aspect of the service requirements or tendering process. In this case, you would submit a clarification in the opportunity section of the electronic portal in brief and concise manner to ensure the evaluator can clearly understand your query and respond with the correct information.
The electronic portal will typically send you an automated email when the buyer responds but it is worth regularly checking the portal. This has the added benefit of identifying any changes the buyer has made, including adjustments to the submission date or the publication of additional or amended documents.
Writing your tender response
Once you have all the required information, you can now begin the writing process for the tender submission.
A few steps:
- Develop a plan to deconstruct each question to identify what the buyer is looking for
- Gather the required information from colleagues, stakeholders or third parties
- Structure your response accordingly
- Keep to the submission deadline.
Keep your response concise, but persuasive, by including what you propose to do as the supplier, how you will achieve this and why you have chosen these processes and methodologies. Consider what your service will offer the bidder and how you can stand out from other bidders by including themes throughout your response, such as unique qualities of your organisation.
Once your writing is complete, check your response for consistency, accuracy and relevance to the buyer’s requirements. It is worth sending the document to a colleague to review and proof for errors.
Submitting your response to the tender invitation
Once both the quality and pricing aspects of your tender invitation are complete, you can now submit your response on the electronic portal. Review the submission guidelines to identify any specific instructions, such as attaching appendices as part of your response.
Log back into the opportunities section of the electronic portal, where there should be a dedicated document upload function. Attach all relevant documents to the correct areas and review the upload to ensure everything is present.
Finally, click submit and the portal should display a notification or receipt confirming that the submission was successful.
For additional support in the tendering process, contact our team of bid writers today. We are involved in over 500 tender submissions each year and have the knowledge and expertise across all industries to support you in successful tendering.
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