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We were approached by a client new to the tendering process who wanted assistance to win a national contract for fixed data cabling and Wi-Fi installation services with HMRC – they were the incumbent on the contract but had never had to go through the tendering process before.

Main challenges

The main challenges in this project were:

A niche area requiring research

First tender for the client (even though they are the incumbent)

Short turnaround for the bid

Bid Details
  • Geographical region : 


  • Output : 

    ITT: 25,000 words across 34 questions

  • Weighting: 

    60/40 quality/price

  • Submission: 

    Electronic – portal based

  • Outcome: 


Overview of the Bid

Due to procurement regulations and the size of the contract, it had gone out to a competitive tender process.

The submission required over 25,000 words of narrative across 34 responses, and we had approximately three weeks to complete the bid – bid writers Mary Marshall and Kate Hull were the lead writers on the project. The questions were split into three sections: a selection questionnaire, award questionnaire and award criteria, which were then to be uploaded onto a portal. The questions themselves varied greatly and covered topics including:

  • Management
  • Delivery
  • Innovation
  • Quality
  • Environmental

This submission was quite a niche area and we had a relatively short timescale; however, by approaching the tender from the bottom up, working closely with the client and following the proven processes in place at Executive Compass the tender was completed, bespoke to the client’s experience.

Key Challenges in the Tender

Complex questions – several of the questions asked for examples of previous contracts, including examples of exit management. As the customer had not been involved in many contracts apart from the one in question, this was difficult to answer. After an internal discussion and talks with the client, we decided to write a best practice response which incorporated what we would do rather than what we had done on this occasion. It can be difficult bidding as the incumbent if the particular contract makes up a large proportion of your business and you do not have other examples to refer to.

Industry-specific knowledge – this is a niche area, and approaching a new topic requires a copious amount of research prior to discussion and interviews with the client. The bid writers who worked on this tender spent time researching the contract requirements and the nature of the works, and were supported by the rest of the team via quality assurance.

Tight deadline – working within a short time frame required excellent communication between the bid writer and the client. To manage the deadline, Mary and Kate proactively engaged with the client to arrange a series of interviews which included information gathering, review of content and offering reassurance and guidance in the bidding process. This was all undertaken efficiently, with great collaboration between the writers at our side.

Standing out – to secure top marks in the quality sections it is important to make sure your company is compliant and stands out. Luckily for us, our client had a lot of experience and knowledge in this particular contract and contracting authority, which we could draw upon successfully. Tendering into any authority is a competitive process, especially so for the HM Review and Customs, as this was a lucrative contract for the successful bidder – and nationwide.


The tender was submitted in early March and awarded in the September – we were delighted to hear that our client had been successful in retaining the contract. The nature of the bid proves that we are continuously tackling new areas of tendering and working with new clients, allowing us to broaden our understanding across all industry sectors.

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