Procurement is a business term used to describe the multi-step journey from identifying a need to finding a solution. Within the context of tendering, it can include:

  • Establishing a need for goods or services.
  • Determining the procurement method — usually an open or restricted tender.
  • Advertising a Request for Tender (RFT).
  • Collecting and assessing bid responses.
  • Working with the selected supplier.

Procurement can be a lengthy process. Depending on the size of the project, it can take years for a contractor to finalize and supply all deliverables.

It is also typically highly competitive, particularly in the case of government tendering. To stand a good chance of winning a contract, it’s important that you have knowledge of the procurement process and an understanding of the preparation of tender documents.

Questions to consider before starting a tender response

Before you even start putting together your application, consider the following questions.

  • Does your business have sufficient experience and resources?

When presented with a new opportunity, many of us have a tendency to overlook actual logistics. In all the excitement, we don’t necessarily want to consider how it might be difficult to put together the personnel and resources to make plans a reality.

Ask yourself, who will manage the tender project? Does your company have a sufficient number of employees to handle the workload or might you have the outsource? What kind of costs will this incur?

Consider as well your potential competition. If you are serious about applying for tenders, you should have as much knowledge as possible about the main players in your industry and what it will take to match their work standards and achievements.

Putting together a tender application can be a time consuming and costly process, so it is very important to stop and consider whether applying for a project is in your company’s best interests. If you lack the appropriate experience, all your hard work could be for nothing.

  • How much will it cost to put together a response?

In a similar vein, it is well worth calculating the financial cost of putting together a tender response. Keep in mind that your employees will need to dedicate considerable time to working on the application which can reduce the resources available for other areas of your business.

Many businesses opt to outsource to a professional tender and bid management team. This may seem like an added expense but the additional experience and insider knowledge can make a real difference to the quality of your application.

  • What is the client looking for?

An invitation to tender will contain extensive documentation outlining exactly what the client is looking for. On top of this, their company website will provide a wealth of resources regarding their history, past projects and culture.

Ensure you fully understand what the client is looking for. A good tender application strikes the balance between catering to the client’s requirements and outlining the strengths of your own business.

  • What is our potential profit?

Finally, make sure you have sat down and crunched the hard numbers. Consider both the short and long term profits of the tender. While it’s true that a big project can attract new business and significantly increase your company’s reputation, make sure this is not done at the cost of short term financial health — equally as important to keep your business running.

Tips for preparing a tender document

The preparation of tender documents is an art-form and one of the biggest factors in the likelihood of your business landing a contract. You may have the experience and resources to complete a project but if you can’t capture your company’s culture and capabilities, you will be left lagging behind your competitors.

Before sitting down to prepare your tender response, consider the following tips:

  • Structure your response: If the client has provided a template, you must submit your response using this document. If not, take the time to work out how you are going to structure your bid. Clever use of headings, colour, and font can make a real difference in the overall readability of an application.
  • Address the selection criteria: Above all, a client wants to know that you can do the job. Address the selection criteria in a clear and direct manner, providing all the relevant details with concrete examples of your capabilities.
  • Choose the right referees: Including references and testimonies is an excellent way of proving your skill and capacity. Make sure you pick the right referees — those who will provide positive feedback — and check beforehand that they are happy to have their contact details included in the application.
  • Proofread: Proofreading your application is an essential step if you are to present your company in a professional light. Consider having a professional editor conduct a final proofread to provide a last dash of polish.

Whether you are just starting to understand the procurement process or are a seasoned veteran of tender applications, consider reaching out to a professional bid and tender management team. Their experience, knowledge, and expertise will assist you across all stages of the journey, from identifying potential opportunities to the preparation of tender documents.