If you are new to writing tenders, you’ll be bamboozled by all the abbreviations: ROI, EOI, RFT and RFP. What do they all mean, and how do you respond to each of them?
Very large tenders involve a number of stages, but most involve only stage three listed below – the RFT.
For those times where you are faced with the full evaluation process, each stage will require a different type of submission. The stages are:
1. ROI – Registration of Interest
2. EOI – Expression of Interest
3. RFT or RFP – Request for Tender or Proposal
Stage by Stage
This stage usually applies to only very large projects and is usually only used by government or large organisations to determine the number of responses they can expect to receive when they put a major project out to tender, and who is interested in tendering.
The RoI is normally a call for potential tenderers to show their interest and broad capability to deliver the project. Generally, the RoI issuer – your potential client – wants to determine the quality of the responses, which are usually required to be short – around five to 20 pages.
The client may specify that failure to submit an RoI will preclude suppliers from submitting responses throughout the next stages of the tender, so it is important that you check if this is the case. If an RoI is not required to be submitted it might mean that new ‘players’ can make submissions in the following stages (EoI and/or RFT).A few tips for your RoI response:
- Keep to the page limit, font size and any other requirements
- Think ‘high level’
- Prepare a document that demonstrates quality (such as well laid out and proof read)
- Submit it on time and in the format required
Here, the client will give more details about the project than in the RoI and will usually outline the type of contract you will be expected to sign. Often the EoI stage is also a page-limited document which requests no marketing materials be included.
Apart from being selected to proceed to the next stage of the process (the RFT), an EoI presents you with several other opportunities:
- Gaining an understanding of the larger scope of the project
- Determining what the client is really asking for
- Establishing how well the client has considered the project (and opportunities to value add)
- Developing your strategy and ‘win themes’
- What type of contract is offered (if any)
- As the respondents are usually published, it gives you a clear idea of who is ‘in the game’.
The tips above for the RoI are generally applicable to the EoI stage as well.
RFT or RFP.
This is the most important document you will submit. In the Request for Tender (RFT) the client will give you much more information about the project. Indeed, the project brief may have changed since the EOI.
Remember that clients want the best possible responses to their RFTs, so if something is not clear to you, use the query process. This is your opportunity to clarify what they want – and to keep asking until it is clear.
Tips for success:
- Check for ‘Mandatory’ and ‘Evaluation’criteria – include responses to ALL in your submission
- Complete ALL required schedules
- Consider your strategy – are you able to provide ‘value add’ or optional extras
- Tailor your personnel ‘pen pictures’ and previous experience to be relevant to the project
- Prepare a stand-out, graphic-designed document using InDesign
- Include graphics, graphs, easy-to-read tables
- Avoid ‘padding’ with irrelevant or superfluous materials
- Submit on time, in the format(s) required
Often there is a ‘murky’ evaluation criteria of ‘general quality and consistency’. So make sure your tender is clear, concise and consistent. Proofreading is a must as it will highlight any factual inconsistencies as well as typos. You may be given the opportunity to submit a ‘non-complying’ submission. These are only allowed to be submitted with a complying tender. Non-complying tenders are not usually well regarded, but it could be your unique opportunity to be successful.
Usually there will be a number of highly-regarded tenders. To help decide who wins the work, the client will invite you and your competitors in for an interview or presentation. This is a great opportunity for the ‘personal touch’ and to build rapport with your client.A few tips:
- Ask questions about the interview and presentation
- Prepare first-class materials – including any ‘leave behinds’
- Stick to the time allotted
- Have a backup plan in case an important team member cannot present
- Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse (ask a public speaking coach to help)
- Get in there and shine