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Article Details

Published Date: 22-11-2023
Author: Ciaran Brass
Category: Tender Writing & Bid Management
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Bid and tender submissions can vary in size and word count, ranging from 1,000 words to upwards of 50,000 words. This can depend on a number of factors, including the level of detail required by the buyer, complexity and technical aspect of the tendered works or services, and whether or not the submission is split into different lots.

We have extensive experience supporting clients with bid submissions numbering tens of thousands of words, including recent submissions for Network Rail, Anchor Hanover Group, NHS Scotland and Sellafield. A large tender submission may require more planning, communication and review stages – read more below for our top tips.

The following process for managing a large tender submission is based on our tried-and-tested methodology, developed over 14 years’ experience and 7,000 PQQ, SQ and ITT submissions.

Read the tender documents in full

As with all tender submissions, the first port of call is to read the entire tender pack in detail to ensure you have not missed or omitted any aspects of the bid. Assigning different ownership of the tender to members of the team can save time during an initial read-through of the documents. Make sure to note down the following details:

  • The contractual scope of works, including different work or service streams, prescribed schedules from the buyer and frequency of any mandatory reports.
  • Any required appendices or additional documents – for instance, CVs of key contract staff, mobilisation plans or a flow chart of complaints procedures.
  • Benchmark KPIs for crucial elements of the contract, such as customer satisfaction, first-time-fix rates and timescales for completion.
  • A project-specific checklist containing all the documents required for submission, alongside the relevant task owner.

For larger tender submissions, there may be lot-specific questions which require quality responses to submit a compliant bid. Ensure you have thoroughly read the documents prior to beginning the quality element of the bid, avoiding a haphazard approach to addressing elements you have missed with a looming deadline.

Create a project plan with sufficient time to complete each element of the bid

Ensure your writing team has realistic and achievable timeframes to draft all quality responses and appendices for the submission. Breaking down a larger tender submission into milestones or internal deadlines can provide further reassurance to the bid team that completing the bid in time is achievable. When creating a project plan, consider the following:

  • Subject matter knowledge: Members of your bid team may have particular experience in a certain industry or tender quality topic – leverage this experience by assigning them to the questions which are the best fit, which will create efficiencies in completing the tender submission.
  • Complexity of question set: For large tender submissions, questions can be particularly technical, complex or cover a wide range of topics. You may need to dedicate additional time to answering them. This ensures nothing is omitted or missed, resulting in reduced marks from the authority.
  • Availability of information: if you are waiting for information to complete a quality response – for example, a testimonial or technical details from a subject matter expert – don’t come to a standstill. Put that response to the back of the queue and continue working on responses which can be completed, minimising overall impact to the project.

Our bid management matrix is used by all members of our bid and tender writing team to document progress and provide a live view of project status, minimising admin and communication times.

Maintain constant communication with your writing team

Set up a project-specific chat or a daily meeting to discuss and manage progress with the entire team. This will enable you to proactively identify challenges or potential slippages – for instance, awaiting a clarification response from the authority – and adjust the project plan accordingly.

Communication is integral to successfully managing a large bid submission. If you feel the project will not align with timescales due to unforeseen circumstances, raise the issue immediately with your bid manager and they will put mitigation measures in place – for example, by assigning additional resources to ensure the project is submitted on time.

Schedule a quality review of all tender material

All our bid and tender responses are subject to a line-by-line quality review, to facilitate a compliant submission and enhance the overall quality of content within the response – enabling the strongest possible submission. Undertaken by a quality manager or other senior member of the team, all our quality reviews ensure the following:

  • Responses are compliant with the specification and overall scope of works indicated by the purchasing authority – for example, KPIs for completion times or number of scheduled works completed per annum
  • The question has been comprehensively and persuasively answered, with practical examples from similar projects included where appropriate, such as details of the experience of your proposed contract-specific resource
  • Content has a clear, logical structure which follows the wording of the question, split into sections to make it easy for evaluators to interpret and award marks accordingly
  • Content is smooth, flows well and is easily understandable, avoiding overly complex language or technical jargon to minimise risk of confusion.

Appointing a suitably competent member of the team to undertake quality reviews for a large tender ensures you can avoid project fatigue and gain an impartial point of view regarding the strength and relevance of certain points, all while adhering to tight word or page limits for each response.

Schedule a final compliance check and portal upload

Following amendments during the quality assurance process, ensure the tender submission is finalised and ready to go by checking over all documents which must be returned to the buyer’s evaluation team. Using the submission checklist created at the beginning of the project, assign an impartial member to review the following:

  • The standard selection questionnaire has been completed accurately and in full, including standard company information, data responses and additional information requested by the contracting authority, such as copies of audited accounts or specific accreditations.
  • All quality responses align with specified word, page or character counts and are correctly presented in a clear, easy-to-read format. Be mindful that some portals require you to copy and paste responses into a textbox, affecting text formatting and presentation.
  • Appendices and attachments are completed in accordance with the buyer’s requirements, uploaded to the correct location and titled appropriately – typically, this will include your organisation’s name and the quality question it is supporting.

Procurement portals can be complex and difficult to navigate at the best of times, particularly for those unfamiliar with their layout. With large tender submissions, these challenges are enhanced, as there will typically be a large number of responses, documents and appendices to upload in order to submit a compliant tender.

Try to schedule a portal check a minimum of 24 hours prior to the final submission deadline, minimising unnecessary stress or a noncompliant submission due to connectivity issues.

How our bid and tender services can support you

For large tender submissions, our bid and tender services can be adapted to fit the requirements of the submission and your level of bidding experience. For example, we can support clients with partial bid writing support, while providing a review service for elements of the tender your in-house team is best-placed to support – creating a truly bespoke model of support.

If you would like to find out more or receive a free, no-obligation quotation for a live tender project, contact our sales and marketing team via email or telephone 0800 612 5563.

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