Tendering and Procurement Series – Part 2
Guides|by Gabrielle Alvear|12 September 2022
What to Expect in Part 2
- Preparing your Response
- Submitting your Response and Following Up
- Tendering Glossary
4. Preparing your response
Can you take part and win?
When you receive or download the tender check you can take part. There could be turnover criteria (e.g. above €25m) or sector-specific requirements (e.g. emergency services application development). If you can’t meet these criteria, especially for public sector tenders, you’ll be excluded. Likewise, are there questions and requirements where you can excel? Alternatively, can the contract be broken into lots and if so, are there specific criteria for them?
Some tenders are evaluated on a mix of criteria with different weights. For example, Innovation (50%), Compliance (15%) and so on. This mix should be seen in your response. Others are judged only on price – the Most Economically Advantageous Tender. Only you can know if you’re interested in competing on price.
Understand what’s needed
It’s often tempting to start writing as soon as you receive the tender documents but spend time reviewing all the requirements – what needs to be submitted, by when, how should it be submitted etc. We’ve seen businesses be excluded from bids because they haven’t met what seems to be a simple requirement so it’s vital you understand this.
Sometimes the organisation will have a strategic goal or objective that isn’t always mentioned questions. If there is, and you can weave this into your response whilst answering the question, do so. A consistent narrative that links to their goals can help you gain extra points, just don’t go overboard and focus on answering the question.
What are they actually asking?
Read through the questions a few times, ideally as a group, to really understand what they’re asking. Look at it from their point of view and how you can meet their needs. As tempting as it can be, don’t cut and paste answers from previous responses without double checking they meet the specific requirements.
If you need a question clarified, there’s usually a way of asking for more information. Just remember that questions and answers are typically shared with everyone so be mindful of how you pose questions as the competition could see them.
Build a framework
Create a framework for your answers before you start writing. For example, if the question is made up of three parts, structure your response in three parts with clear sub-headings. Make it easy for people to understand your response and award you points. Some tenders will include guidance on how questions are scored and weighted. Use this guidance when building your framework.
You’ll often see two or more versions of very similar questions. Answer them separately and fully. By all means cross-reference responses but don’t be tempted to simply refer to another answer.
- Make note of the word count for each answer and stick to it
- Details are better than 'filler' content
- Keep the evaluation criteria in mind – you should find these in the tender documentation
- Ensure your answers have a logical flow and is easy to evaluate
Use their language and tone
A tender submission is not the time for flowery language or being dogmatic about your brand’s tone of voice so keep things professional. You should also mirror their language; if they talk about their ITOM team but you have a different name for similar teams, use ITOM.
Provide the evidence
Your answers should be specific, detailed, clear and concise. You also need to back-up every claim you make with evidence. From staff qualifications and insurance documents to case studies and KPIs, if you make a claim, you must be able to back it up. This can sound daunting but it’s a chance to demonstrate how good you are so make the most of it. The more objective and quantifiable evidence you can provide the better.
With geographic-data related tenders, you may be required to submit a dataset alongside a written response. If you are and you need help, HERE and Grey Matter can help so just ask.
Answer. The. Question.
When you’ve completed your response to a question be brutally honest with yourself. Are you answering the question they asked or the one you wanted them to ask? You’ll only get points for the former so make sure your response addresses every point in a question.
Ask someone else to proofread your response
Someone who hasn’t seen your response should proofread before it’s signed off as complete. As well as checking the obvious things like spelling and grammar, they should also check to see if the response has answered the question. If they don’t think it does, be thankful. It’s better to find out at this point than when you get rejected.
If you proofread your own content, try and give yourself 24 hours between writing and checking. Your brain knows what you’re trying to say and can sometimes fill in gaps. Having a break can help minimise this.
5. Submitting and following up your response
The procurement team use tendering platforms to provide information, store tender documents and house all communication around a procurement. More often than not, this is where they handle the tender application process, such as uploading documents and signing off on certain terms and conditions.
Familiarize yourself with the platform’s interface and navigation. Also check how the content will be submitted. For example, are you submitting a PDF and some video links or do you have to cut and paste your responses into an online form? Can you save your submission and come back to it?
We also recommend connecting with a Technical Support team member or having the contact information of someone who can help in case there is trouble with the tool.
The actual process for submitting your response will vary by country and the client so it’s hard to give specific guidance. Here are some general tips:
- Double check everything: Has it all been proofread? Have you got all the assets and files you need? Is everything signed off?
- Give yourself time: what appears to be a simple file upload can rapidly become convoluted so don’t leave it the last minute. And make sure you have a stable internet connection during the submission.
- Clear file names: if you have to submit different files, make it easy for you and the team marking the responses. If there isn’t a specified file naming format, pick something obvious and logical, then apply it consistently.
- Have the assets at hand: It sounds obvious but make sure you have all the final files in a single place and ready to go. Don’t leave version control to the last minute or you could end up submitting the wrong files.
If you’ve submitted your response via on online system you may receive an automated response. If you don’t, or you’ve had to email it in, follow up with a call to the organisation to make sure they have received it. This way you’ll know it’s arrived and it demonstrates you care.
EOI - Expression of Interest
ITT - Invitation to Tender
PQQ - Pre-qualification Questionnaire
RFI – Request for Information.
RFO – Request for Offer
RFP – Request for Proposal
RFQ – Request for Quotation
RFT – Request for Tender
SSQ – Standard Selection Questionnaire
Ready to take the next step?
We know that the tendering process can be confusing and challenging, on top of already being inherently negative. We hope this series has helped to provide you with a starting point and checklist for what you can expect when applying and how to win business.
For questions or additional support, especially if you're working on a mapping related tender, please get in touch and we'll do everything we can to help.
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