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Article Details

Published Date: 5-07-2017
Author: Executive Compass
Category: Tender Writing & Bid Management
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Here at Executive Compass, as you would expect from one of the UK’s leading bid writing specialists, we get to see many different tender documents from a wide variety of industries and sectors. At the time of writing we estimate that more than 10,000 unique ITTs, PQQs and selection questionnaires have been read by our expert team of writers in the last eight years.

We regularly assist care companies, recruitment agencies, cleaning firms, transport providers, dentists, glaziers, grounds maintenance experts, asbestos removal specialists, civil engineering, interpreting services, mechanical and electrical contractors, IT companies, and facilities management consultancies, to name just a few.

How much do tender documents vary?

Our exposure to so many different types of tender documents, each varying in size and word limit, means we are well positioned to comment on the type and number of questions that you could be asked to respond to. In spite of the principle of proportionality in EU public procurement, we know from experience that neither the size of the financial opportunity nor the complexity of the services being procured has any discernible relationship to the number of questions that bidders are required to answer, or the volume of words which must be written, which can often stray into the tens of thousands.

Recent examples

Contract Sector Approximate Annual Contract Value Number of Questions (Requiring Written Response) Word Limit
Grounds maintenance £60,000 28 32,000
Asbestos testing £300,000 12 8,000
Orthodontic services £240,000 8 10,000
Domiciliary care £180,000 32 9,000
Housing repairs and maintenance £600,000 42 50,000
Lift maintenance £175,000 24 10,000
Construction services £300,000 8 5,000
Security patrols £175,000 12 6,000

The absence of any correlation between the figures in the columns above should not come as surprise, given the hugely different expectations, and need for due diligence for each industry, but also the different styles and approaches adopted by each buyer. This may include answering a series of short questions, writing proposed method statements in response to described scenarios, or a responding to a small number of main questions which are hiding a supplementary list of up to 15 sub-question which can turn a seemingly innocuous tender document into an enormous task, guaranteed to cause blurred vision and tired fingers.

E-tendering on a portal

While it is easy to focus just on the volume of words required for a submission, this is not the only challenge that a bidder might face. They must also manage the portal-based submission, and all the associated administration.

There are a wide variety of third parties engaged by public sector bodies to provide the portals to support the tendering competition. You may have come across the following portals when submitting a bid or tender:

  • YORtender
  • In-Tend
  • ProContract
  • CapitalEsourcing
  • Delta eSourcing

Navigating around these portals is a specialist skill in itself, and care must be taken to ensure every single specification document, pricing schedule, form of tender, confidentiality form, and social value matrix has been downloaded, completed correctly and uploaded in the specified format.

In addition to the plethora of forms and documents, it is not unknown for as many as 100 further questions to be included in the selection questionnaire, meaning that the completion of a compliant and winning tender is a full-time job. It is not surprising, therefore, that it is job that does not appeal to many entrepreneurial small business owners or operations managers, whose duties by default typically include business development and completion of public-sector bids.

Thankfully, a team of expert writers who are passionate about winning, and thrive when faced with a challenging tender submission or a tight deadline are available to help you make sense of the public-sector tender process and apply a logical and structured approach. For more details contact us today to see how we can help.


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