We frequently hear clients telling us that tenders are ultimately all about price and the quality section doesn’t matter. First-time clients often say that to make their response competitive they have focused on cost reduction… yet they are still not winning. In this blog, we outline the necessity of a strong quality section in maximising your chances of success across both stages of the tender process.
Selection Questionnaires/Pre-Qualification Questionnaire
The SQ/PQQ section of every tender is designed to test your business’s experience and overall suitability for the opportunity. Its interest is primarily in what you have done, as opposed to what you will do, as a gauge of your capacity to deliver the required product/service.
To that end, we will typically see a question asking for three contract examples of similar services you have delivered in the past three or five years. Within these examples, you have an opportunity to demonstrate key aspects of your business model and how this gives you a competitive advantage over other tenders.
We can use each example to focus on a different unique selling point of your business, such as the increased responsiveness afforded by being a local provider, the increased reassurance provided by contingency resources, or the technical nous demonstrated through additional qualifications. Throughout, the aim is to demonstrate the particular competencies which you know will be needed for the contract tendered for, thereby convincing evaluators of your suitability. In doing so, you increase the confidence of the local authority that your business can provide the required product/service to a high standard, and more importantly to a higher standard than competitors, having already delivered across numerous other contracts.
Invitation To Tender (ITT)
The ITT is an opportunity to demonstrate that you:
- Understand the specific requirements of the service being commissioned, such as any required response or delivery times.
- Have suitable and sufficient infrastructure in place to demonstrate those requirements, for example suitably qualified and resourced operatives, supported by comprehensive programming.
It is primarily concerned by what you will do for this specific contract. In an ITT, you can discuss any new technologies or approaches you have recently implemented, alongside your tried-and-tested approaches, in order to present your proposed delivery in the best possible light, but your responses should ordinarily be framed as how you will bring those innovations to this contract. In essence, this is your opportunity to propose the most effective solution possible in response to the authority’s requirements.
Quality responses are a critical part of this, typically comprising 40–60% of the available marks for any given tender. The suite of quality responses will often cover some/all of the following criteria:
|· Ensuring high-quality delivery||· Contract management, their competencies, experience, and qualifications|
|· Maintaining and implementing quality health and safety processes||· Your internal training processes, and how you ensure competency from operatives|
|· Sufficiently resourcing the contract||· Business continuity arrangements|
|· Managing high-level customer service and a transparent/responsive complaints process||· Your Social Value offering.|
100% of the local authority’s confidence that your business can feasibly deliver a high-quality solution is based upon effective, fit-for-purpose and bespoke responses to the questions posed. It is critical that you can outline, with precision, your approach to each aspect of service delivery, and then persuade them of the specific advantages your approach will deliver.
A tender offering to deliver at low cost, but without sufficient attention paid to criteria such as the above, will cause the authority to question how realistic your proposal is, and how successful you will be in delivering according to stringent public sector standards.
Cheapest, or Best Value?
A significant portion of our existing client base seeks to win bids on quality. Whilst their pricing nonetheless needs to remain competitive, they know that, as SMEs, they cannot necessarily offer the additional cost savings that larger national companies can. In spite of this, we maintain a win rate of 86%. The reason for this is simple: cheaper does not always equal better quality for money.
Quality for money refers to your ability to maximise the return on the authority’s money in terms of the level of service you provide. Any additional value you can offer, be it through contingency resource, complementary services or innovative approaches to service delivery, will increase the credibility of your proposal, with public sector buyers assessing ‘best value’ as a function of not just price but also quality.
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