Submitting Tenders for Work
A common way for businesses to obtain work is to submit tenders for contracts. A successful tender can lead to months and even years of employment for a company. It’s therefore wise to spend some time studying the tendering process.
Formal DocumentA private or public sector organisation puts something out to tender when it wants a particular job done at a value for money price. The organisation invites companies to complete tender forms and bid for the work.
The tender paperwork that the organisation issues is a formal document, often many pages long. It gives the details of the required work. It also sets out the terms and conditions the bidding companies must meet.
ThoroughnessThe first thing a business must do when it applies for and receives a tender document is to read it thoroughly. It’s vital to consider everything the organisation wants.
In other words, a bid submitted in response to a tender document isn’t just about money. A company must explain how its experience and skills meet every one of the tender’s requirements.
Completing a tender document is therefore hard work. The process often involves a number of people within a company. Company directors must ensure all staff are aware of their roles in completing each of the tender document’s sections.
ApproachThe best approach to completing a tender document is for a business to have one person coordinating the effort. There should also be a senior manager who checks the document before despatch.
Writing StyleTo put a message across effectively in a tender document, a business must adopt a specific writing style. Sentences and paragraphs must be short. The tone should be businesslike. Headings must break up long stretches of text. And bullet points should emphasise important issues.
As for the content, there are two important issues to remember: answer the questions in the document and meet the client’s needs.
It’s wise to write a rough draft first. A senior manager should read it through and check that each sentence is relevant, logical and reasonable.
Additional information should appear in numbered appendices. Everything in these appendices must be in a matching style.
If the tender submission is not by email, it’s worth spending time and money printing and binding the tender document. The more professional the document looks, the better. The front cover should have:
• The project name
• The name of the organisation asking for the tender
• The date
• The name of the business submitting the tender
Covering LetterA covering letter should summarise the bid. It should also list any supporting documents.
TimelinessOrganisations rarely consider late submissions. The best methods of delivery are by hand or courier. With a courier, it’s wise to phone the organisation to confirm the tender document has arrived on the desk of the person responsible for assessing each bid.
Freedom of InformationAll bids for work in the public sector come under the Freedom of Information Act. This means that anyone can ask to see the responses submitted as part of the tendering process.
A business submitting a bid that contains sensitive commercial information should seek a non-disclosure agreement in advance.