Tendering Practice – Similar to Playing Golf Blindfolded?

Tendering Practice: Similar to Playing Golf Blindfolded?

How quickly does time fly? It certainly feels as if the months tick along faster than we can keep up! We have now been delivering many workshops on tendering and it is surely not an easy process, not for small business especially. We would like to lift the blindfold slightly and provide you with some insights on how to improve your tendering practice.

Tendering is just one way to secure more work or be able to supply more goods to your customers. It is not always the easiest process and certainly one where I have not found anyone who really likes doing it or cannot do better with their time elsewhere.

The Cambridge dictionary defines tendering as the process of asking for offers and selecting the best or the cheapest supplier.

That is a technically correct definition for tendering and applicable to your tendering practice.

The Ichiban Commercial Solutions definition for “tendering” is slightly different.

Tendering is similar to competing in a golf game as you:

  • know you are competing for the price;
  • have competitors but you don’t really know who they are;
  • may have an idea where you are meant to tee-off,
  • sort of know when you are supposed to be done,
  • have an idea what the game is about and
  • never really get to know what the final score is, until you win the price.

Problem is that no one told you that will be blindfolded.

Effectively tendering is a shot in the dark.

Good thing is that your competitors are blindfolded too – for them too, it is (meant to be) a shot in the dark.

Using tendering to find more work, requires a growth mindset and a calculated, strategic decision.

Working with my clients it is really about working out what YOU want to achieve and why YOU want to play the game.

The following questions are important to ask before you start your tendering practice:

Do you understand why you want to be tendering as a way to find work?

I assume that most people submit a tender with the hope of being the successful candidate. Reality is that unless it is a panel agreement, there is generally just one winner.

With tendering practice, it is important to know WHY you are in the tendering practice game and how much time, energy and resources you will commit to the process. You will spend many hours on completing tenders, will have to wait for weeks if not months for the outcome. More than often, will get very poor feedback (unless you know how to ask the right questions).

You may be lucky and hit a hole-in-one with your first try, but that does not happen that often. The tendering course is similar to a normal golf course – some tenders are easier par 3’s. However, others are par 5’s and take more effort, practice and sheer stubbornness to succeed.

Do you know where you will find the tenders that are right for you?

You really need to decide which tenders are the right tenders for you.

You have to think it through and decide what the right course of action will be for your business. Try a few and certainly look around.

Sometimes it is best to start with smaller tenders or start with council tenders before you go for big government contracts.

It really depends on your skill levels and your appetite for playing golf blindfolded.

It also depends a lot on your current experience and similarity to the tenders you consider.

Do you know when you should be tendering?

You may decide to only look through tenders for a few months and work out where you score yourself against the different tenders – similar to practising on the driving range. It is close to the golf course but you only play when you feel confident enough.

Tender documents are written from the perspective of the tenderer and not the business responding to the tender.

The logic of how documents are put together and how you are meant to respond to a tender, is not really set up for your logic or convenience. It is compiled in a way that will make evaluation easy for the person(s)/panel receiving the tender submissions.

The first time you start looking at a tender, it can be a really difficult document to work through. It may just feel as if you have been double-blindfolded – even although you are just hitting balls on the driving range.

The more you take time to practise working through the tender documents, the more familiar you will become around tenders. There is a lot of the same stuff in tenders even although the documents appear so different.

Playing on the tendering driving range you will be able to work out when you are ready to play the game.

Do you know when to ask for help with tendering?

Probity and tendering rules limit the help you can get from the tendering officer. Also, any answer to tender related questions asked, will mostly be circulated to all of the tendering companies. You therefore have to be careful and smart in how you ask for clarification.

The timing around enlisting help will depend on how skilled you are and how skilled you want to be in tendering.

Some of my clients complete most sections of the tender and I take their information and change it into procurement speak, assisting with showing value for money and ensuring that the tender complies with evaluation criteria. In this case, my role is like a good caddy that can show you the lay of the green when you are putting.

With other clients, they may be stuck in a bunker needing lots of help.

What really matters is that when you decide to enlist help, is that the help will be a great caddy or coach. Tendering is teamwork and the help must add value to your business and bring out the best value for money for your business.

The right tendering coach will:

  • let you stay on the fairway,
  • guide you on the lay of the green;
  • help you pick the right club for the right shot and
  • help you direct your golf ball in the right direction; and
  • make your tendering practice easier for you.
Ichiban Commercial Solutions Procurement and Tendering Solutions Tendering Practice Golf Blind folded

Do you understand the value of a well-crafted tender?

A well-crafted tender will leave a lasting impression – similar to a good drive or a great putt.

You may not win this particular game but you could be asked to do work in another area or be asked to tender for another game. A tender is still marketing for your business, your brand and your values.

Tendering is great practice to benchmark your performance against that of your competitors.

I often do cover letters for the tenders that I prepare. It shows respect for being allowed to tender and it a professional gesture.

Even although you may be blindfolded when you are tendering, you want to make sure that whatever you present will be the best reflection of your brand and your reputation. When I have to play blindfolded, I do my best to make sure that my blindfold stands out from the crowd.

If you have any questions or comments on tendering, please contact us. We will provide you with more insight as to where you may find the tenders that are right for your business.

If you have any questions or comments on tendering, please contact us. We will provide you with more insight as to where you may find the tenders that are right for your business.

Have a great day

Celia Jordaan


About the Author:

Celia Jordaan has more than 30 years international and corporate experience and worked in the areas of procurement, tenders, supply chain, contract management, law and risk. She works with business of all sizes and industries, procurement leaders and teams to develop and implement strategies to boost business performance, make tendering easy and improve bottom line performance.

To learn more about Celia Jordaan, please click here.

For more information on how we can assist your procurement team, your business with tendering or strategic business development and planning, please send us an email today.

Ichiban Commercial Solutions Procurement Advice and Tendering Solutions Celia Jordaan

Contact Ichiban Commercial Solutions Today

Please let us know how we can work with you on improving your tendering, procurement capability and working with you on your business growth.