When you write a tender, how do you know that you are writing what the evaluator wants to see?
Well, writing a tender, especially for a framework agreement or similar, is a little like sitting an examination at school.
You need to undertake quite a lot of research before you even begin to write your tender or to think about content. It is really important that you understand what your tender needs to contain and why. There are a number of easy and free ways of doing this:
• Visit the client web site for tips on what you could include in your tender- What are the hotspots?
• Download the client policies and procedures- This will give you a good idea for the “feel” of the client organisation. Yes, there will be a number of standard policies, but there may be others that give you an indication of the types of things the client thinks are important.
• Look at similar organisations. You can often pick up tips for the tender you are writing by looking at organisations similar to your client.
• Read the tender specification! It is amazing how many people do not read the specification until after they have written the tender. It should be read alongside the invitation to tender and supporting documents. It will provide vital information, not only explicit in terms of KPI and methods of work but also in less tangible ways. The language it uses, the emphasis on certain elements, these can all provide you with clues for how to write your tender.
• Before you put pen to paper and write your tender (or before you put finger to keyboard) you must research your competitors. If there is an incumbent provider, it is often possible to obtain performance data before you write the tender (providing of course, you have not left it too late, but that is a whole article in itself). If it is a new tender make sure you understand who your opposition is likely to be. It is very easy to work out who your main competitors are, it is therefore very easy to find out what their strengths and weaknesses are too. Make sure though, that you do not criticise competitors in your tender. Instead, focus on and emphasise your strengths, why the client should choose you and what benefits you bring. This is much better than attempting to undermine other tenderers.
• Read more widely about your client. Try to identify the main pressures and priorities they have. If you show a good understanding of their context and can solve some of those contextual problems when you write your tender, it will attract higher marks.
• Identify the key stakeholders of your client. Research them and idenfify their needs and wants. For example, I have written a number of grounds maintenance tenders that have been evaluated by tenants. This means writing a completely different tender than if it were to be evaluated only by the main client.
• Make sure that if the client provides a tenderers meeting that you attend. You can ask questions, see the competition and find out lots of useful information.