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Published Date: 27-10-2023
Author: Ciaran Brass
Category: News & Insight
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Bid and tender submissions require careful, diligent planning to ensure all documents are in order ahead of submission deadlines. Although our internal quality processes facilitate smooth and uneventful submissions, those who regularly complete bids will know there can be initial shock and horror upon receiving an invitation to tender.

In the spirit of the season, we take a look at some recent challenges from government tenders – and the methods we used to overcome them, continuing to produce high-quality winning bids.

Lengthy or excessive wording in tender questions

Precision within a tender document is crucial for a multitude of reasons. Bidders must understand what the proposed works or services will entail, buyers need to provide maximum clarity on the scope of requirements and evaluators must have enough material from quality responses to ensure a fair assessment of the proposed delivery model.

However, this can sometimes lead to rather excessive practices. Occasionally, the length of questions and number of bullets can end up being lengthier than the allocated word limit for the tender response. In one instance, one of our bid writers recently completed a 500-word response around contract resourcing, allocation and business continuity where the question was 543 words long – making it a significant challenge to satisfactorily address all aspects of the question!

Nevertheless, the assigned bid writer was able to draft a high-quality, persuasive response by adhering to our tried-and-tested answer planning methodology, ensuring nothing was omitted or overlooked and ensuring maximum marks from the evaluation committee.

Prohibitively small word counts

On the other hand, authorities may also choose to allocate unusually small word counts for certain questions, leading the bid writer struggling to fit comprehensive responses within the prescribed word limits. Word, page or character limits normally reflect the level of detail expected by the buyer’s evaluating team – nevertheless, the challenge of writing a high-quality, concise response remains.

As examples, we recently saw the following scenario-based questions within a tender:

  • ‘… How will you manage resident feedback, including how you interface with residents regarding actions required following feedback (e.g. complaints and improvements), and understand why negative feedback is received?’ (100 words)
  • ‘… How can residents ensure they are safe in their home when your operatives attend and are working in their home? Please ensure this includes all representatives, including subcontractors.’ (100 words)
  • ‘… How can residents be sure that your organisation’s vehicles will not inconvenience residents and hinder emergency access within the core geographical area?’ (100 words)

While our bid and tender writers are trained and highly experienced in adhering to tight word limits, a first glance at question sets may produce some initial shock! Concise, targeted writing with bullet points where appropriate will ensure the question is answered as comprehensively as possible.

Wrong, incorrect or missing tender documents

Purchasing authorities have KPIs to meet and deadlines to fulfil just as much as bidder organisations. Occasionally, this can lead to the tender documentation being issued incorrectly, leaving bidders scratching their heads thinking they have overlooked or misinterpreted something critical. Over the past few months, our team have encountered the following errors within tender packs:

  • A completely blank terms and conditions included in the tender pack – leaving bidders unclear what exactly they are signing up for!
  • A specification outlining the council’s requirement for fire doors, stoppers and compartmentation while the tendered service was for the provision of roof cleaning services.
  • A plan outlining the programme of works tenderers must adhere to when delivering a suite of lift replacement projects – uploaded without dates!
  • A project-specific link to the Social Value Portal requiring bidders to outline their social value commitments and method statements which linked to the wrong project – the provision of site clearance services instead of electrical works and testing.

Our bid writing team are used to reading and digesting tender documents numbering hundreds of pages long. Before you start writing, it is important to check through all tender documentation and, if in doubt at all, ask for clarification.

Submitting a clarification through the online portal, outlining the relevant documents and what issue it is causing, is the best method for rectifying relevant issues. Typically, authorities will issue a response within one to two business days.

Comments and placeholders left in by authorities

All documents within the tender pack are scrutinised and reviewed by the buyer’s procurement representatives, ensuring the tender exercise is fit for purpose. Similar to our own quality processes, they discuss, refine and agree particulars using tracked changes and Microsoft Word’s comment function. However, we have encountered instances where these edits have been left in the tender pack, including:

  • Highlighting if a particular clause in a contract was necessary or should be removed for a catering tender
  • Discussing the value of a geographical lot and whether it should be increased in accordance with the expected number of service users or left as is for a home care framework
  • Requesting an administrator to remove or replace a KPI table in an appendix for a gas servicing and maintenance contract for a housing association.

As with incorrect or missing tender documentation, the best course of action is to submit a clarification through the portal, enquiring whether that is the latest version of the document and, if not, requesting the most recent copy.

In spite of the horror some bids may evoke, our bid and tender services will always provide high-quality and persuasive writing, reviewing and bid management support. If you would like to learn more about how we can support you to expand your business, our sales and marketing team are contactable at 0800 612 5563  or


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