Ensuring your tender is competitive should be the first aim of putting together a written submission. Here are six tips for developing a competitive tender response each and every time:
- Make the bid/no bid decision bid early – Don’t leave the decision on whether you should tender for an opportunity to the last minute. Developing a good written submission takes time. As a result, download the tender documents and qualify the opportunity as soon as you can. To make the bid/no bid decision, organise any meetings with relevant people in your organisation – or key stakeholders outside your organisation if you are building a consortium – as soon as possible. To assist with the bid/no bid decision, put together a list of criteria for rating the tender opportunity against. If the tender opportunity rates well against these criteria, it is likely the opportunity is worth pursuing.
- Work out your offer – It is helpful to develop up your tender concept or proposal as early as you can so you know exactly what your offering is – not only will this assist in making a decision about whether to bid for a tender opportunity, but in the long run, it will make the offering easier to write about, develop a methodology for, and run budgets and costings against – all of which may be required in your tender response. In working out your offering, determine the key messages you would like to include in your tender. What do you want the evaluation team to know about your organisation and your offer? These key messages need to be incorporated throughout your submission.
- Develop a project plan – A project plan to get the tender in on time is always a good idea. A simple way of ensuring this happens is to focus on the tender deadline and work backwards, taking into account all the different tasks that need to happen to get the tender lodged by the submission date. When developing your project plan, consider who is going to be responsible for particular sections and tasks, the deadlines required for drafts, reviews and feedback, and edits, as well as deadlines for obtaining key inputs into the tender such as the budget and any graphic design requirements. Also, your project plan doesn’t need to be overly complex. Whilst many organisations may use sophisticated project management software to assist them with their tender submissions, a list of key tasks detailed in an Excel spreadsheet or a table can be just as valuable.
- Get any external documents early – If you need compliance documentation from any third parties, such as a letter from your accountant to demonstrate your financial viability or referee details, get these requests in motion as soon as you can. Don’t wait until late in the project to obtain these key pieces of information. When requesting any documentation or information from third parties, always provide a timeframe in which you would like to receive the information and politely follow up on any requests for information if you don’t receive them in a reasonable period of time.
- Keep the project team in the loop – Let’s be honest, tenders can be stressful! People in your tender team may be busy working on their sections but may not be aware of how the whole project is going. To keep everyone informed, regular updates on the project can be helpful, as can short (don’t let them sit down!) tender meetings. During these updates/meetings, try to provide a brief explanation of how the project is progressing against the project plan and what project tasks still need to be completed.
- Check everything! – Remember the little things count, so make sure you spend time towards the end of the project checking the spelling, the pricing and even the tender lodgement details. Factor some review time into your project plan and if possible, get a fresh pair of eyes to read the final draft of tender to make sure it makes sense and is error-free.