How to Write a Professional Tender
Tender Preparation Success
Many small businesses view winning contracts as the holy grail, guaranteed income, long term relationship with a Government Department or major company and most importantly financial rewards. It has been widely accepted in industry that success rates for preparing and winning tenders is one in three. The preparation of a professional tender takes a combination of attention to detail, extensive research and an ability to clearly articulate your capacity and capability to deliver a contract. Demonstrating this and providing evidence is vital to success.
It is not uncommon for tenders to be awarded based on the written proposal only. On some occasions an interview may be required or requested however the written proposal and tender preparation is the most deciding factor. Preparing a tender response that will achieve results is a task that many companies invest significant funds, resources and effort. As a small or large organisation the principles are the same and can be adopted at any level.
A successful, winning tender, starts well before putting pen to paper. Information required as part of the professional tender process relates to all aspects of business. Important aspects to consider when gathering information on business performance includes:
- Industry experience in completing similar contracts including scope, tasks undertaken, challenges overcome, budget, added value provided and outcomes achieved
- Personnel available internally to the organisation that have experience and capability meet the scope of works
- Record of achievement in industry including awards, reference letters and media articles
- Internal systems, policies and procedures that contribute to organisational capability
- Professional networks and relationships with external organisations to increase business capability and knowledge
- Referees that can verify performance and preferably linked to the experience above
- Safety systems and procedures
- Pictures and examples of works completed
- Project or works methodology or approach to delivering outcomes for contracts
- Basic company information such as insurances, proof of incorporation and financials if relevant
Bringing together all this information will provide a basic platform through which most questions can be answered as part of the tendering process. The information above is consistent with the majority of tender requests and provides an excellent starting point where responses can be built.
2. Response Structure
An important component to preparing a tender response is a complete analysis of the request for tender documentation. This documentation will clearly outline the response requirements and often provide a number of schedules that require a response. Your task in this situation is to analyse this document, determine the response structure and provide the relevant information. In this situation it is essential that guidelines be strictly adhered to which can relate to number of pages, word limits, limitations on attachments and size of electronic files. Failure to meet this requirement may result in an unsuccessful tender.
Some important components to consider when structuring a tender include:
- A table of contents with relevant detail and list of attachments
- Present the tender with an overall coversheet of your organisation, tender name and if relevant reference number
- Include page numbers and a footer with company name
- Maintain consistent font and size text
- Use internal heading pages within the tender document to separate major areas
- Present tenders in the format required by the organisation which may include binding, bulldog clips or electronic formats
3. Clear, Relevant Answers
When preparing answers to criteria or questions within a tender, information needs to be relevant, comprehensive and well presented. Some tips for preparing content within tenders include:
- Answer every question
- Analyse the question and determine the information required
- Ensure that all responses are clearly structured, using subheadings, numbering and bullet points to outline content
- Look for opportunities to provide added value and additional information
- Involve a number of team members or stakeholders in reviewing information to prevent repetition, minor mistakes and ensure compliance with the request for tender
- Provide opening and closing summaries that state a claim against each question
- Relate the context of questions to the scope of works provided in the tender document
Preparing content for tenders is time consuming and can be difficult. Using a team approach to draft, check and constantly review information is important to delivering content that is matched to contractual expectations.
It is important to provide examples and evidence of information linked to information in your tender. Supply documents such as company profile, brochures, product information, safety systems or policies, internal procedures, personnel résumés and other information in this section. Ensure that all guidelines are met and attachments are clearly labelled, presented in succinct format and included on content pages. When managing attachments also ensure that you monitor the size of documents to prevent excessive megabytes. All attachments should be scanned, included as a jpeg and compressed to allow compliance with uploading requirements.
Tender submission deadlines are strictly applied. To create a fair and level assessment process deadlines are in place which are rarely close of business and can be any time of the day. One minute past the allocated deadline will result in your submission being excluded from the tender assessment process. To prevent disappointment and a potential waste of funds and effort establish a deadline for submission well before the allocated time and account for submission guidelines such as hardcopy or internet upload. Electronic and Internet submissions can also be problematic and may require more time than anticipated.
Your goal in tender preparation is to develop an effective tender response that is clear, relevant and professionally presented. An organisation must be able to make a complete assessment of your capability to deliver the contract within specifications. Develop and implement a tender strategy as part of business growth and work towards achieving results.