A trap bidders often fall into, particularly when completing submissions en masse is to use generic wide-sweeping statements (or full responses) meaning that by default you are not answering the question in its entirety as nuances have not been addressed. Remember each tender submission is different: different authority, different specification and different responses required. This means that your responses should be reflecting the authorities’ requirements.
However, whilst your responses should always be bespoke, your bid management approach (especially when effective) should remain the same to ensure processes are rigorously followed.
We use the same tried-and-tested bid process for every PQQ and tender that we complete, so our team of expert bid writers have put together their top 7 tips for good tenders to guide you through the writing process.
1. Make sure it is the right contract opportunity
We have mentioned this time and time again across our blogs. However, the importance of undertaking a full bid/no bid decision before you commit to bidding for the contract in question cannot be underestimated. Bid writing can be a time-consuming and lengthy process – do not enter into the PQQ and tender procedure without deciding that the contract is definitely one that you want to bid for, and that you can definitely deliver. Within your bid management approach, establishing a key criterion which can be applied to bid/no bid decisions will make this assessment more efficient. For example, is it a service you can comfortably deliver, are the profit margins attractive, do you have a good/bad relationship with the authority etc?
2. Check that you meet the evaluation criteria
Regularly we see clients realising halfway through the bid writing process that they do not fully meet the evaluation criteria, or they identify something in the tender pack that makes the opportunity seem no longer attractive. Take your time to go through the contract specification and guidelines with a fine-tooth comb; mark down any pass/fail sections and check that you meet all necessary requirements – especially financial requirements. If there is any ambiguity, or you are unsure regarding the wording of any requirements raise a clarification before proceeding.
3. Plan before you start writing
There is likely to be a short timescale associated with the tender that you are completing. Do not, however, dive straight into writing your narrative responses. Create an answer plan or storyboard of the responses. This could include the main areas you need to cover in your responses to hit the evaluation criteria, bullet points of ideas/starting points and deconstructing the questions to form sub-sections of your responses. Bid management is critical at this stage, make sure that you have the right subject matter experts writing responses, and ensure that they have time set aside in their schedule to do so properly.
4. Answer the question!
It sounds simple, but make sure that you answer the question. Do not just use copy and paste material which does not fully respond to the contract specification. Every time you finish writing a response, ask yourself whether it fully answers the question and put yourself in the evaluator’s shoes. Use the word or page limits outlined to put together a comprehensive response; if there are 500 words available then chances are a 100-word response is not going to answer the question – so that you score the most marks available. Similarly, if it is a 500-word response with four distinct parts, make sure the word limit is shared correctly between each as running out of words is not an option.
5. So what?
If you are describing how you will deliver a product or service, or explaining your quality management system, it is not enough to simply state what you do. You need to go one step further and explain what this means and provide evidence to cement your point and show in practice exactly what you are capable of. Essentially, a rationale should always underpin what you are offering.
6. Review, review, review
Always leave yourself enough time to review your tender properly – preferably get a colleague to do this for you. It is important to undertake a compliance check, and not just review the quality of your written work. Whether it is boxes that need to be ticked, Excel sheets to be filled in or numerous tabs in an online portal. There are various obstacles which, if not checked, could result in a fail due to non-compliance. Create a checklist as part of the bid management processes when you commence a tender, tick off items as they are completed, and finally use this list to verify that each item has been added to the submission before it is submitted.
7. Take your time submitting
Typically, you will need to submit your tender response via an online portal or electronically. Take the time to familiarise yourself with the process and any specific requirements prior to your deadline. Online portals in particular can incur technical difficulties if there are numerous companies trying to submit their responses at the same time – do not leave it until the last minute!
For more advice, see our tender writing tips video below:
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