Tendering for Success: How to improve your chance of tendering success
Submitting tenders can be a real painful exercise. It takes time. The reality is that there is only one winner. The question therefore is – how to tender for success and how to improve your chance for tendering success?
How your business gets selected as the winner?
What can you do to improve your chance of tendering success?
The tender process is meant to be a competitive but fair process. Plan to be part of success rather than react and have little success. As Benjamin Franklin said,
“if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.
These are my steps on how to achieve tendering success:
- Spend enough time in planning for future tenders;
- Understand what is expected and develop a tender plan when you receive the request for tender;
- Submit quality tenders on time and as required in the tender request;
- Learn the lessons, whether your organisation was the winning one or not.
Let me warn you, there is no easy way to win tenders as it is meant to be a competitive process. However, you want to make sure that you have the best possible chance of being competitive, both in price and quality.
If you are looking for an easy way out to submit tenders, maybe this is not the article for you.
Winning tenders require planning, time, patience and perseverance.
Tendering Success – Not Everyone’s Cup of Tea
I must admit that writing tenders is not every one’s cup of tea. By taking time to plan, you will improve and streamline your process and improve your chances of tendering success; maybe even get time to have that cuppa.
The planning phase includes understanding:
- capability – whether you have a well presented capability statement detailing who your company is and what makes you different;
- capacity, time and resources – even when you have a system in place, you really have to plan where you have gaps in your existing workload or have a strategy in place that allows you to ramp up and down depending on your appetite for taking on additional resources.
- the market – you need to know who is your ideal clients and make sure that you become known and trusted in that market. Entry into companies is very hard and often build on referrals.
- where to find the tenders that fit your capability and capacity – making sure you are registered on the right sites and with the right companies;
- the importance of relationships – invest in building new relationships but also maintain existing relationships. Understanding your existing customer’s requirements and nurturing those relationships are often the best opportunity to win work. With an existing client you have already proven your capability and have a good idea of the client’s requirements. It is so much easier than entry into a new market or client and this client can be a good referee for future tenders too.
- build a tender response process and system –having a process and system in place that is fit for purpose will make it more time effective to respond to tenders.
When you receive a request for a tender, I would advise that you take the time to develop a tender submission plan. Below are some pointers to consider for tendering success:
- Do you understand who your competition is and where you think they may be placed?
- What is the position of the incumbent?
- Is this really a contract you want to tender for? Does the tender fit within your vision, values, capability and capacity.
- Understand the timelines and be realistic.
- Utilise the opportunities to learn more about the client and attend any site visits.
- Do you understand the scope? What is in/excluded from the scope?
- Do you understand the pricing model required under the contract?
- Do you need to clarify the evaluation criteria?
- Can you complete the contract in-house or outsource part of it?
- Have you read the tender terms and conditions? As boring as it may sound, it will tell you what needs to be kept confidential and what information may be used in future etc.
- Do you need help to compile the tender? Do you need external assistance with contract reviews, safety/risk work or even administrative help?
- Can you tender as requested or do you have an alternative solution. If you have an alternative solution, you need to check that it is worth your while to offer this solution. With non-conforming solutions, you take care to protect your know-how so that it cannot be “used” against you at a later stage.
- Register your interest and make sure observe and respect the contact rules for the tender.
Now go ahead and develop your plan – you will find that as you do, you are actually creating a system on the go.
Now that you have a plan with milestones and dates, make sure you stick to it and make time to prioritise. The evaluation criteria in a tender are useful to use as a guide on how the tender will be evaluated. If there are no evaluation criteria stated, it would be prudent to clarify what the criteria will be.
With your tender, you focus on scoping, developing specifications, method statements and pricing.
Pricing in most tenders form a substantial part of the evaluation criteria and you need to make sure you clearly state your pricing assumptions.
Follow the requested format. If there is no prescription as to formatting, my simple suggestion is to follow the tender documentation numbering and lay out.
Clearly mark all tender documentation with the tender number, supply the information as requested.
If you have not built a system before, now is the time to make sure that you do it as you go along.
Many tenders have common questions and requirements. Do it properly once and get it right. When the next tender comes along, you can modify to the specifics but then you have the general requirements all sorted.
If there are any submission requirements, make sure you follow it. Also check that your tender is actually received.
And overall, if you don’t want to make enemies in the procurement world, you will make sure that you keep your questions and contact as per the tender request.
4) Lessons Learned, A Major Component of Tendering Success
How often do you ask for a review after the tender to work out what worked well and what did not work so well?
Where are the opportunities for improvements?
How do you work out if you tender for success or failure?
The close out process is not the time for a blank canvas. Prepare your questions before the debrief.
You need to take into consideration the lessons learned as part of your tender process. You will get an audience with a procurement team, hopefully with the operations as well and you will learn what to do next time. More so, you also get an opportunity to learn more about the organisation.
Good luck with your tendering! Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or to organise for your 1 hour free consultation via phone or in person (Perth metro).
Tender for Success!!
PS. We were very fortunate to publish an article in the March 2016 edition of the Merise Business Magazine. Submitting tenders can be a time consuming and difficult process. We like providing insight and guidance to our clients.
To read the article, please click here.
Please feel free to download our free tender checklist to assist you to tender for success.
You can find a variety of free tender subscription websites, by doing a Google Search on where to register for tenders.
Tender search providers assist you to receive updates in your inbox as soon as the tendering companies release tenders. Please note that the tender search and notification providers do not download the documents. You still have to register on the website or with the third party who is issuing the tender.
I utilise Australian Tenders to receive my updates and they provide a value for money service. Australian Tenders provide a five star service.
Celia Jordaan is a freelance procurement and risk consultant at Ichiban Commercial Solutions, Perth Western Australia. With over 19 years experience, Celia has worked in different countries, locations and cultures. She worked in the areas of procurement, supply chain, contract management, law and risk.