Very rarely are two invitations to tender exactly the same. That is why you, the bidder, need to respond to the specification in front of you, and not one you would like to see, or one you have seen before.
This will ensure that you score as highly as possible and that you avoid any complacency that might weaken your submission.
Read the specification
Your first task is to read the specification and all relevant documents. This will tell you about the services the authority requires, how they want them to be delivered and the specific standards to be achieved, as well as minimum requirements such as ISO certification and annual turnover.
Take time to read the documents thoroughly so you understand what is required and can respond appropriately. By not doing this you risk missing out on vital points, potentially having to re-write responses or, worse still, submitting a poor quality, unconvincing submission.
Review your bid library
Once you understand the authority’s needs, review the responses you have on file to see if they can be used in your submission, and if so, how much you need to adapt them. You can also review previous examples and case studies you have so you can decide how suitable they are for the submission you are doing. Do they sell your organisation and its technical experience and capability? Typically, these sections usually have a large weighting so it is important to capture as many points as possible by describing your proven ability to deliver the same services successfully for other contracts.
The most successful bidders usually review bid libraries in teams, as part of their bid/no-bid decision making process. This allows them to capitalise on the experience of bid writers, technical specialists and operational managers to guide the assessment process so appropriate writing plans can be created and any information gaps identified.
The writing process
When you start writing, take your time to create winning, evidence-driven and persuasive responses, always with one eye on the specification. It usually helps to have the specification to hand throughout, as well as other key documents, or to spend time copying key phrases and words into your tender documents before you start drafting responses. This will maintain your focus on what the authority wants and help you tailor your answers.
Copying in words and phrases is not the same thing as copying and pasting large sections of data – given how competitive many tenders can be and their often strict marking criteria, this will not give you an advantage. Unless you make sure what you write is tailored to who you are writing for, you can end up producing a generic and bland submission which will be marked down. Even if you are going to reuse previous winning material, ensure you review it line by line and strengthen it where necessary so that you meet the specification.
Review and sign-off
Once you have drafted your responses, make sure they go through a robust and impartial quality assurance process, including proof reading. Reviewers should always review against the specification and critically assess whether the responses are of the standard required to win. Most importantly, the reviewer can suggest changes or additional content to make sure the response matches the specification, addressing information gaps or strengthening an already high quality answer to maximise your prospects of securing the contract.