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What is a tender?

What is a Tender?

Do you know? Do you care? Why should you care?

Are you going through your business life catering only for existing customers, not trying to win new ones? Or do you try for new ones, only to find that there’s some official process or other which is hampering your progress? Have you lost a customer because they’re part of a consortium or group of customers who must go with suppliers out of a small group of named companies, and your name’s not on the list? What is a tender, again? What should you do now? Help is at hand, Executive Compass offer bid and tender writing services for companies of all sizes and across all industries.

So what is a tender?

An invitation to tender document is a written request sent to potential suppliers to ask for information required for the buyer to then evaluate and select a preferred supplier. A tender document is the basis of a tendering process which helps a business select qualified and interested suppliers based on certain contract conditions – broadly this is pricing documentation and quality criteria.

Let’s look at it from the point of view of a customer:

  • They’ve got a big project to complete. This might be the construction of a retail unit, the supply of home carer services to the housebound and elderly, or grounds maintenance for some blocks of flats.
  • They don’t have the capacity to do this in-house. Or perhaps they did have a construction, carer or grounds maintenance unit but have had to cut costs, leading to them outsourcing.

Sometimes, a group of companies or authorities will get together to form a consortium. Like a co-operative, they’re hoping that by getting together and advertising a huge contract, they can get better value for money from their suppliers for goods or services.

Either way, they need to choose someone else to do this work. If they’re in the public sector or have a private-sector project worth over a specific amount, they are actually required by law to issue a call for tenders.

Now let’s look at it from the point of view from the company with the contract:

  • The company looking to complete their project will issue a notice that this contract is available. Typically, this will have some detail, for example, the scope, range, geographical location and other contract conditions of the work project.
  • They will ask for expressions of interest, followed by more information in a pre-qualification questionnaire, followed by even more information in a tender document.

You and other potential suppliers will put bids to supply this information. Some will fall at the first hurdle, others will get through to pre-qualification, and fewer still will be asked to complete the full tender response documentation. And one, or maybe two, suppliers will win the bid.

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Why is the tender process marked this way?

A tender is evaluated this way to ensure transparency and fairness. All suppliers will be marked against a matrix of scores which ensure the company that offers the best value for money and products or services will be appointed as a supplier. This is particularly important, of course, when it comes to spending the public’s money.

✓ So what is a tender? It’s a vital way for you to win more business and get involved in more industry sectors yourself.

What makes a quality tender submission?

As a business, you must impress the contracting authority and really stand out from the competition through innovative ideas. If you would like to know about the bid and tender writing, please see our video below on what makes a quality tender:

The importance of tenders

Ignore the world of tenders at your peril: you will end up losing out on the opportunity to win bids that can keep your business busy, profitable and growing. We all want that, don’t we?

Ignore the tenders that are out there and you’ll be constricting the amount of new work you gather, and you’ll possibly lose customers to the tendering process, too.


Executive Compass will help you with the whole tendering process, through education, training and writing your tender documentation for you. Contact us now! Now you know what a tender is, get submitting those tender applications!

Call us now to speak to a member of our Bid Team:

0800 612 5563 or direct to mobile: 0773 940 7746