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Published Date: 31-01-2024
Author: Ciaran Brass
Category: Top Tips
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A ‘disqualified tender’ means that your tender was not subject to the evaluation process based on a compliance failure. Receiving feedback on a disqualified tender can support the improvement of your organisation’s bidding activity, allowing you to stand a higher chance of success for future tender submissions.

The ‘good news’ about a disqualified tender is you will be given immediate feedback and rationale why your tender was not considered by the authorities – meaning it will be easier to identify and implement solutions.

Below, we look at some of the most common reasons for a disqualified tender, and what you can do to mitigate them in order to have your submission considered by the evaluating committee.

Failing to meet minimum qualifying criteria

For public sector bids and tenders, the purchasing authority has mandatory and discretionary minimum qualification criteria for your submission to be considered. If you do not meet these requirements your tender will be automatically disqualified at the selection questionnaire or PQQ stage of the tender exercise.

As examples, minimum mandatory criteria to be eligible for a bid opportunity include:

  • Registration with an industry-specific regulatory body, such as the CQC for health and social care tenders
  • A minimum level of annual turnover, usually expressed as a percentage of the overall contract or framework value
  • No history of criminal offences within the organisation, such as infractions bribery or corruption, money laundering convictions, or infringements against modern slavery legislation
  • ISO 9001:2015, 14001:2015 or 45001:2018 accreditation for your organisation, or demonstration of equivalent processes and procedures.

Most buyers will identify the qualifying criteria specific to the opportunity within the Invitation to Tender (ITT) document, allowing bidders to quickly assess whether they are an eligible supplier.

Missing, partially completed or incorrectly formatted submissions

By nature, public sector authorities are compliance-driven and risk-averse – the same principles apply during a tender exercise. Any gaps or omissions within documents may run the risk of noncompliance, and ultimately your tender being disqualified. This includes:

  • Incomplete or blank pricing schedules or other documents related to your cost proposal for the contract
  • Partially completed quality questions or technical envelopes requiring narrative responses
  • Documents incorrectly formatted – for instance, failing to attach appendices within a document or using the incorrect font when the authority has specified a preference
  • Missing ‘sign and return’ documents such as the form of tender, certificates of non-collusion and canvassing, and confidentiality agreements.

Many of these mistakes can be addressed by dedicating adequate time to reviewing the submission and completing all documents, in addition to carefully reviewing the ITT and contract specification.

Lack of relevant experience

Another potential reason for your tender being disqualified is failure to have or evidence experience and qualifications relevant to the tendered service. For instance, a construction company tendering for a design and build contract would need strong references of completing projects of a similar size, scope of works and complexity.

Effectively evidencing your experience, competency and capability is critical for a successful submission. For this reason, our bid and tender writers emphasise selecting and writing high-quality contract examples and case studies for your submission. Although contract examples are usually unscored on standard selection questionnaires, drafting a narrative response for this rather than a brief description ensures you impress the buyer from the beginning of the evaluation process.

Submitting after the deadline

Businesses unfamiliar or inexperienced with public sector tenders may be surprised at the relatively short window of opportunity to submit a bid. Typically, we see a four- to six-week deadline for the average tender submission from advertising the opportunity to closing the submission. For larger frameworks or dynamic purchasing systems, the authority may choose to employ an open deadline, where you can submit over the duration of the contract. However, this is an exception rather than the rule.

Consequently, it is crucial you ensure your submission is ready in advance of the deadline, saving any last-minute stress or rush to submit. To avoid your tender being disqualified due to a late submission, consider implementing the following system (or similar):

  • Make a submission checklist for all documents required, ensuring there is no last-minute rush to fill or sign a form
  • Create a bid plan for each tender submission by assigning different elements of the submission to task owners so no documents are lost in the shuffle
  • Schedule a portal check no less than 24 hours before the deadline to check all documents have been uploaded in the correct place.

As the vast majority of public sector tenders are submitted through an e-portal, authorities are unlikely to consider a late submission no matter the excuse. For this reason, having clarity on the time of the submission deadline is equally important as the date itself. If you believe the submission was at 5pm but it was actually at noon, this will not be a valid excuse for the authorities, and your tender will be disqualified.

Supporting you with a compliant tender submission

As part of our bid and tender services, your assigned writer will perform a compliance check on all tender documents and portal uploads, avoiding any potential disqualifications to your tender submission. Our sales and marketing team can also perform an initial ‘compliance check’, bringing any minimum mandatory criteria to your attention and supporting your ‘bid/no-bid’ decision.

To find out more about this and the bid and tender writing, review and bid management services we provide, contact us today or 0800 612 5563.

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