More than anything, tendering is a process. You see the opportunity, assess your chances, and then you have to come up with a seductive pitch that can take you from that first date, right through to the altar and a certificate of marriage. And the grand seduction must be undertaken alongside the day job. No small challenge!
Happily there are some good guides around, and none more so than the clear and insightful Successful Tendering Guide: The Tender Process produced by Invest Northern Ireland. This forms the basis of this quick overview of key stages.
The dating game!
OK, the opportunity has been identified. Now you need to start preparations.
- Download and store tender information
- Inform core bid team and circulate documents
- Read and assess opportunity
To court or not to court?
This is the big question: Putting together a successful bid is a time-consuming and ultimately expensive. Make sure that it is right for you by reviewing these key factors.
- Mandatory requirements
- Relevant experience
- Right size for us
- Profit potential
- Resources to respond professionally
Planning the seduction
So you have decided that it is worth pitching so now you need to put together a team.
- Technical experts
- Proof reader
- Fault finder
Hold a kick-off meeting
- Distribute documents in advance
- Brainstorm the solution
- Identify required resources
- Allocate roles and responsibilities
- Agree a proposal schedule
- Document strategy points to include
- Identify questions to feedback to Buyer
- Update ‘Why us’ details
- Develop the plan
- Summary of submissions terms
- Finalise bid team and timetable
- Mandatory requirements list
- Evaluation criteria
- Winning strategies
Aim for a simple and professional document which delivers only what the buyer asks for in a consistent writing style, professionally formatted and presented. Make sure that you follow the exact structure and requirements outlined in the Tender. Build in review cycle and sign-off to the production process.
This is the typical format of a tender document.
- Executive summary
- Introduction – format and purpose of tender document + contact details
- Understanding requirements
- Approach / solution
- Company introduction
- Case studies and references
- Staff CVs
- Added value
- Alternative offers
- Standards and policies
Making your move
Today it is quite likely that your bid will be made electronically but in most cases the buyer will also want hard copies.
- Safely stored and backed up files
- Printers are working and sufficient stock of paper and ink
- Delivery instructions including numbers of copies
- Reliable delivery service
- Make sure you know how to use system
- Check any word and file size limitations
- As larger documents take longer to load, start with them
- Save, save and save again
- Tender portals tend to time out after 15 minutes so hit save as soon as completed
- Check that everything has uploaded successfully
- Save a copy of your submission
The morning after
- Tender evaluation
- Internal debrief before award
Meeting the parents
- Develop structure
- Co-ordinate content
- Individual contributions
- Organise rehearsals
- Manage logistics
- Introduce the team
- Identify one person to play Buyer during rehearsals
- Precise as per executive summary
- Do not cut and paste from document – use bullets
- Expand on ideas but don’t add new ones
- Allow time for questions
- Presentation should be by the delivery team
- Prepare a good final statement
- Provide printed copy as takeaway
More information on Tenders
In Part 1. Tender Tips for a Smooth Bid we take stock of the challenges involved in creating a successful tender.
In Part 3. Tender Tips in Practice the focus is on the lessons learnt while working on a major tender with the team at leading food and beverage PR agency, William Murray, plus some links to other useful resources.