We complete Invitation to Tender Documents for clients every day. The format design, content and complexity vary hugely and we have completed some invitation to tender that merely require four pages, others run to several hundred pages with multiple appendices.
This is to be expected, different industries traditionally include certain elements in their invitation to tender while others do not. For instance an invitation to tender for most construction companies will be expected to include a significant section on sustainability but an invitation to tender for a company building web sites is more likely to focus on technical ability and experience.
Completing an invitation to tender for the first time can be daunting. There is a lot to think about and they are time consuming. For a small business completing an invitation to tender represents a significant investment in terms of time, money and resources. If a small business attempts to complete the invitation to tender without professional help they are more likely not to be successful. The main reason for this is that they treat the Invitation to tender as a necessary evil that has to be done, to be cleared from their desk as soon as possible. They are normally very busy have no experience and are out of their comfort zone. Placing all these things together means that the invitation to tender that they submit will usually be sub standard. They know their business but they just cannot spare the time!
Larger companies who are involved in completing an invitation to tender often fall into the same trap. Even those with people responsible for the writing and submission often produce sub standard tenders. Common failings of larger companies include:
1. They treat completing an invitation to tender as a mechanical process. It becomes almost a tick box exercise
2. They complete the invitation to tender using “copy and paste” techniques and not enough original content. You can use copy and paste, especially for some elements of a PQQ but a good invitation to tender should have original content. Using original content forces you to review your methodology and create innovative bids that add value and treat clients as unique.
3. Context. This really follows on from point 2. A good invitation to tender response will be contextual. Each tender is different, every customer is different, every transaction has its own unique context and so it seems natural to me that every invitation to tender response should be contextual and unique.
4. They have too many people completing the tender and no central “guiding mind” or coordinator. When completing an invitation to tender you should have someone coordinating and managing the process, otherwise what is produced will not be of a sufficiently high standard.
If you are going to submit a response to an invitation to tender make sure:
• You take it seriously
• Allocate enough time
• Begin to produce the document early
• Plan the process
• Have someone manage the process
• Hold tender review meetings