Tendering is all about finding a great match. Clients want to ensure they engage a supplier who meets (or exceeds) all of their requirements – and they will usually have many suitors.
You, as the potential and successful suitor, need to evaluate if you should respond to the tender opportunity and, if so, how to ensure that your proposal will be the most favourably evaluated.
First – Check Your Eligibility!
The client will often supply a swag of tender documents, especially if they are a government organisation. The one to read first is the Request for Tender (RFT). This outlines the scope of services the client is seeking and their selection criteria – among other important information.
All government RFTs and those of many public and private companies will include the contract you will be expected to sign if you are successful. With government RFTs, this is usually called the Draft Deed of Agreement. It is vital you read this carefully to check you can accept all the terms. Ask yourself:
Are the terms and conditions of the contract acceptable to you? Are they commercially fair?
If not, consider your options. There will usually be a form for you to complete to confirm your compliance with each contract clause. If you are not comfortable with a clause, this form is your opportunity to suggest an alternative. Remember, however, government organisations are more comfortable with businesses that comply with a Draft Deed of Agreement in its entirety.
Now is the time for you to be brutally honest about your ability to undertake the project:
Do you want to work for this client? Have you heard good reports about them?
Can you demonstrate that you meet all of the selection criteria or a large part– with additional bonuses?
If you are ticking all of these boxes, get set to start your engine!
If not, consider another response strategy. One is to put together a team in which your role might be the Principal Consultant or a Sub-Consultant. This can be a winning strategy.
Tick Off Those Selection Criteria
Clients include selection criteria so they can measure your capabilities. They usually include:
General – such as how you comply with the Draft Agreement and Risk
Technical – such as your demonstrated past experience, ability to perform the requirements, and others, such as your commitment to environmental sustainability and OH&S
Commercial – such as your organisation and its financial capacity, pricing and insurances
Formal tenders and government tenders will be assessed by a selection panel. To be successful, you must clearly demonstrate how your organisation meets all of the criteria.
Keep the list of the criteria handy when you write your response. It will remind you of what they are and to incorporate them into every section of your document.
By doing this, you will make it easy for the selection panel to ‘tick off’ your compliance and easily evaluate your ability to meet the selection criteria.
You might also consider including any qualities in addition to the identified selection criteria – but be careful that they have a direct relationship to the project or client’s overall business.
One final note:
Assume nothing. The selection panel cannot evaluate your proposal on what you consider to be ‘general knowledge’ or ‘individual relationships’. You should include this in your proposal as it will – at the very least – facilitate the evaluation process.
Response In – and…wait for it…Winner Announced
Once you’ve lodged your tender, you are now in the evaluation period.
The selection panel is responsible for evaluating all the responses. Members may be employees of the client, independent experts or a combination of both. This process can take many weeks as it may involve a number of meetings of the selection panel and interviews with tenderers. Be prepared to respond to queries and / or present to the panel during this time. Scores are adjusted – and re-adjusted – during this process.
Finally, at the end of the evaluation process, the (re-) evaluated scores are put together and given a final evaluation. The Chair of the selection panel will provide a report and a recommendation and follow due process to enable the winning tenderer to be accepted.
If At First You Don’t Succeed…..
This is your opportunity to meet the client and hear first-hand about your tender’s strengths and weaknesses – and how you can improve your response for the next opportunity.