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Article Details

Published Date: 3-02-2022
Author: Adam McCabe
Category: Tender Writing & Bid Management
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It’s that time again – you have identified an exciting tendering opportunity that could help realise your growth ambitions. However, your excitement may be dampened by the overwhelming requirements of the tendering process: reviewing the tender documents, identifying the buyers’ requirements and priorities, aligning these with your already existing delivery model and USPs. All before actually writing a compelling narrative that distinguishes you from the competition – in addition to completing any additional documentation (e.g. selection questionnaire, form of tender, etc.).

To streamline the bidding process, you may be tempted to utilise pre-existing material from previous tenders for the more common topics, such as health and safety, contract mobilisation, training/qualification, and organisational structure. Whilst using this material can save time and effort, it is important to recognise and consider the possible pitfalls in using material that was originally produced for a different opportunity.

Initial considerations

Before deciding on the use of previous material, you should consider whether it meets the buyer’s requirements:

  1. Does the theme of the material specifically align with the topic of the question? For example, if the buyer is asking for your health and safety auditing procedure, a response covering the principles of your health and safety policy would not address their question.
  2. Is the material still relevant? As the UK market, sectors and statutes are dynamic, you need to assess whether the material is still accurate; for example, any reference to utilising the UK’s membership of the EU’s single market and customs union for supply chain continuity would be outdated.
  3. Does the material cover the scope of the question? The question may give some indication of the detail and depth that is required from your response. Consider key terms such as ‘please detail’, ‘list all’, and ‘how’ and ‘why’ of your services and processes – the latter two should always form part of your detailed response. Questions often include a range of sub-questions which need to be covered in your response.

Considering the above, review your existing material and consider the perspective of the assessor: does it answer the question accurately and in full? If it does not, starting from scratch is the best way to maximise your score and ultimately produce a competitive tender.

Tailoring your tender response

Once you have identified pre-existing material that accurately answers the question and meets the buyer’s requirement, it’s time to amend your tender response. Again, from the assessor’s perspective, the narrative should appear like it has been written specifically for this opportunity:

  • Amending all contract-specific terminology – this will be the most important edit and includes geographical locations, the name of the buyer and their staff. Further, aligning the terminology used for processes, systems and role/job titles to the buyer’s language will ensure that the assessor knows what you are referring to.
  • Restructuring the response – you may have identified a response that meets the full requirements of the question but is structured in an alternative order. Restructuring your tender response to align with the structure of the question and using clear headings will ensure the assessor can seamlessly identify each section of your narrative.
  • Adding additional material – when reviewing existing material, you may have identified a response that meets most, or almost all, of the requirements of the question. Using this material and filling in the gaps could still save you time, but you will need to:
    • Align the formatting, including font, size, line and paragraph spacing
    • Ensure the language style is consistent
    • Review the flow of narrative so each section seamlessly transitions to the next
  • Personalisation – to ensure the response is compliant with the client’s requirements, incorporate any requirements from the tender documents. These changes should be minor, such as changing timeframes for the delivery of products or services – changes that require widespread amendments throughout will require a fresh start. Further, incorporating the branding of the buyer into your documents, where permitted, could be an easy way to create a sense of personalisation.

When you are comfortable with your changes, review the response to ensure it is comprehensible, logical and reads as a uniform piece of narrative.

Creating a bid library

Identifying pre-existing material that can be used in upcoming tenders can be a time-consuming exercise. To expedite the process, you could create a bid library of responses that can be categorised so they can be easily identified based on the requirements of the question.

To create an effective library, you could establish several folders and sub-folders that allow you precisely locate a model answer that could be utilised for a new opportunity. An example file structure could include:

  • Model answers
    • Health and safety
      • Risk assessments
        • Conducting dynamic risk assessments

The above structure will allow you to effortlessly locate responses with precise subjects by transitioning through more overarching subjects.

Bid libraries will also allow you to update content as they are improved over time by incorporating feedback from buyers.

Executive Compass can support you at any stage of the tendering process, and we regularly work with organisations to strengthen their bid library and streamline the process when bidding often. For a free consultation with one of our team please contact us today.


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