Anyone new to putting together a tender response will no doubt identify with how difficult it can be dealing with the symptoms of what’s known as early-onset AFS (Acronym Frustration Syndrome). An alarmingly widespread malady, the only known cure is to get a firm grip on what commonly used tender acronyms mean. Digest the following definitions to help ease your pain.
There can be four stages involved in the tender process:
- ROI – Registration of Interest
- EOI – Expression of Interest
- RFT or RFP – Request for Tender or Proposal
- Interview – Your chance to shine
The very good news is that unless the tender you’re pitching for is very large, only the third stage will generally apply. So, let’s take these one by one.
An ROI is a stage which usually only applies to very large projects such as those for governments or big organisations. An ROI helps your potential client gauge the number of responses likely to be received and who they’re likely to be from.
The length of an ROI is generally quite short; generally, between five to 20 pages. The ROI is looking for a quality response which broadly outlines your capabilities.
Take care to double check if the client has specified if failure to submit an ROI will preclude you from progressing further with your tender response. If no ROI is required, it may well mean that new ‘players’ can wait until EOI or RFT stage before throwing their hat into the ring.
For an EOI, the client will almost certainly have provided more details about the project and may even outline the type of contract you’ll be expected to sign if you’re selected for the job. Like an ROI, the EOI will generally be limited to a certain number of pages which requests that no pricing or marketing material be included.
RFT or RFP
Request for Tender and Request for Proposal basically mean the same thing. Whichever term the client uses, know that without doubt this is the most important document you’ll submit. Here, the client will give you far more information than in the ROI or EOI. Indeed, the project brief may even have changed in that time, so take care to check.
Top tip: Assessors are looking for the best responses, so if something isn’t clear to you about what they want to know, then make good use of the query process and ask until you are 100 per cent sure what’s required. Remember: clarity is critical. Without it, you could find your response is way off the mark and your business out of the running for a potentially great contract.
In the normal course of events, there will be several tenders that fall into the ‘highly-regarded’ category. To help the client decide which one will win the contract, you may be asked in for an interview or to make a presentation. A terrific opportunity to make a great impression with your company’s ‘personal touch’, these requests are an excellent way for you to build rapport with your potential client.
The whole process of tendering can be nerve-wracking and take up a vast amount of energy, time and resources, but the results can be fantastically good for you and your business. However, here’s one last word of advice. If you’re going to commit to formulating a submission, then commit whole-heartedly – to exactly how you’re being asked to do so – or not at all.