A Great Guide introducing you the Tender Writing Process
Long-term, contractual work makes sense for many business models, offering business security, especially during challenging and unpredictable times, and can form part of your business’ risk mitigation strategy.
Securing long-term contracts is often achieved by successfully winning a tender process. By submitting a tender, you formally offer to supply work for another company, an offer which they may reject or accept. Because successfully winning a tender is usually very lucrative for a business, competition can be stiff. So how should you go about submitting a tender and what does a typical tender writing process look like?
Firstly, you’ll need to ascertain what opportunities are currently available. The process can be quite different dependent upon the sector you’re targeting. Public sector bodies must advertise tender opportunities on Contracts Finder for contracts with a value above £10,000, or Find a Tender for contracts valued at over £118,000. Once the opportunity is identified, the notice will provide detailed information as to how you may submit a tender application. This may, and is most likely to be through, the public sector organisation’s preferred portal platform, which you’ll need to register on before you are able to submit a tender. The private sector tender process tends to be much more flexible; you may encounter tender opportunities through various methods such as networking or business connections.
One you’ve identified the opportunities available, it’s crucial that you take the time to fully understand the remit of the work and appraise how closely the opportunity aligns to your business strategy. Will the tender realistically make a difference to your company, and can you confidently say that you can successfully deliver the organisation’s requirements and meet their business challenge?
Factor in any regulatory or mandatory requirements outlined in the scope of work. Take into consideration whether you have the resources to fulfil the brief and, crucially, in the timescales that the Buyer has outlined. Understand the potential profit margins and consider additional benefits such as reputational gain to your organisation. But be mindful of whether the opportunity poses a business risk, such as spreading yourself too thin and risking existing work. Take the time to consider if there could be an opportunity cost to the business if you successfully won the tender. Some tenders may preclude you from working with the clients’ competitors, for example.
Finally, be realistic about your probability of winning the bid. If you can see that there are areas where you simply don’t fit the brief, it’s likely there are other organisations bidding for the work who will tick all the boxes. If you have any doubts, then walk away from this opportunity; there will be others.
To undertake the steps as outlined above, creating a Bid / No-Bid process within your organisation will be highly beneficial to determine the right opportunities for you.
Take the time to ‘get to know’ the buyer. Do your research and check whether your companies align. Do you have shared values and a similar culture?
What are the client’s goals and are there parallels with your business objectives? A cultural match will make for a better working relationship if you successfully win the business. Additionally, understand their challenges and how your solution (product or service) can help resolve their issues, whilst adding value.
Take the opportunity to stand back from your organisation and appraise it from an outsider’s viewpoint. Is it clear what your business stands for, are your achievements obvious and have you a clear direction for the future and a plan for success?
Understand what makes your business different. How do you stand out from the crowd and what are your unique selling points? Where do you excel and in what industries or sectors?
When considering your business strengths and unique attributes, will these support you to meet the challenges faced by the buyer? You’ll need to provide supporting evidence within your bid submission, therefore it’s vital that you can validate these claims with statistics, case studies or testimonials.
Be honest about your weaknesses as a business. Where might you fail compared to the competition and is this something that can be addressed swiftly?
Being clear about who you are as an organisation (and who you are not) will facilitate decisions on whether this is the correct opportunity for you and will support the bid writing stage later.
Having taken the steps above, if you’re confident that this bid opportunity is one which you which to pursue, then it’s time to get to work. Usually more than one person will be involved in a bid submission and skillsets from across the business will be utilised. Team sizes will vary but will usually consist of a Bid Manager, a number of specialist Contributors, a Writer and Reviewers.
The Bid Manager will oversee the entire process, creating an action plan with allocated resource. They’ll take responsibility for ensuring that key decisions are made in a timely manner and will ensure that milestones are met.
Specialist Contributors, also known as Subject Matter Experts (SME’s) are usually accountable for sourcing the detail required to enable the Writer to create a compelling submission. Sourcing robust, evidence-based data is a crucial role which will add weight to the bid submission.
Writers are accountable for presenting the information in a succinct, structured and precise manner, which fulfils the requirements of the tender. Their content should be compelling, evidence-based and resonate with awarding panels.
Finally, it’s crucial that a review panel is identified. Too many submissions are spoilt by poor grammar, mistakes or not fully answering the questions being asked, which can negatively affect the awarding panel’s perceptions of your organisation and scoring against the criteria.