PQQ and e-tender documents
With every call for tender comes a procedure for submitting that tender. It is increasingly common that this will be done via e-tendering, and you will respond to the contracting authority through an online portal. Instructions for bidding will be spelled out in the documentation you receive from the contracting authority, and must be adhered to – if you do not comply with the procedure, you can be failed based on non-compliance, so it’s important to ensure you fully understand the process before you begin. Part of this process may be familiarising yourself with the e-tender on the relevant portal, as some can be tricky to navigate for first-time users.
You will need to complete some or all of the following documentation:
- A PQQ or pre-qualification questionnaire. It is becoming more common for standardised PQQs (or standard selection questionnaires) to be used, which include core questions and sections that apply across all industries, as a first stage of evaluation.
- An ITT or tender document, with questions on a variety of topics. You will need to answer questions on the products or services you will be required to deliver and exactly how you will deliver them. Your policies and procedures, and your pricing proposals, will also need to be described. Sometimes the PQQ and ITT documents are submitted at the same time, and sometimes they will be done in separate stages of evaluation (this is known as either the open or closed procedures). This will be labelled in the initial instructions to bidders.
- Supporting documents, including copies of insurance certificates, accounts, policy documents, references etc. and anything the contracting authority need to evaluate your company.
Preparing e-tender documentation
Planning. The first stage in preparing tender documentation is to plan. Reading the tender specification and understanding all the requirements of the contract is vital. This will firstly ensure that you are aware of all components. Secondly, you can use this planning process to guide your narrative responses and make sure that all points meet the specification. The planning stage should include familiarising yourself with any e-tendering requirements, the methods for clarification and communication with the buyer, and how your bid will be uploaded or submitted if on an online portal.
Writing. When you come to write the tender submission, make sure you use compelling, persuasive narrative that answers the question and is backed up by evidence and statistics. Do not forget to work within any word or page limits, font styles and other restrictions that may be outlined in the specification. One tip for e-tendering is to check word limits via the online portal, as sometimes these are not apparent until you start writing in the text box on the portal. When writing, we recommend deconstructing the question, whilst referring back to the specification, to ensure everything is covered.
Reviewing. After you have completed your PQQ or tender response, the final step of the process is to review your bid. This falls into two stages: checking for compliance, and checking the actual written narrative. For both PQQ and ITTs there can be a lot of box ticking, as well as data sections to fill in, and you (or a colleague) should check to make sure your bid is fully compliant – you may wish to check this directly on the e-tendering portal. The second aspect is proofreading and reviewing your written narrative. Try and put yourself into the evaluator’s shoes: does it meet all the evaluation criteria? Is it well written? Would you award it full marks? If not, you may need to revisit your responses until you are happy with the quality.