Tendering tips for your business

Submitting for a tender

So you’ve been invited to tender; you think it’s the perfect job for you – the one you’ve been waiting for. You’ve got all these great ideas on how you’re going to fit out that building, market that product or improve that organisation’s operations and reduce its costs. However, before you get the chance to implement such initiatives, you need to first win the tender. This article explores four tips to help make sure you do just that and get the chance to put all of your great ideas and skills into practice.

Understand the evaluation criteria

You may have all the best ideas in the world about the subject of the tender, but if that isn’t what they are after then it probably won’t help you get the job. Most tenders – particularly those undertaken by government organisations – set out specific questions that need to be answered on point and any content of the submission outside these limits may be ignored.

In targeting your submission, it is a good idea to use similar terminology used in the tender document. Doing so will give the impression that your proposal is perfectly aligned with what is requested.

 For an even better edge, why not call up to seek further information. Most tender application forms will have the contact details of a person responsible for reviewing the applications. Asking the right questions can provide you with more information than what is contained within the tender document and also give you an idea as to which of the evaluation criteria is more important or more heavily weighted than the others. Obtaining these insights will allow you to further refine your submission to target exactly what is wanted and therefore, greatly improve your chances of success.

 Are you prepared to perform?

It may be the job of your dreams, but it can turn into the chore of your nightmares if it becomes too big for your business to handle. There is no shame in being a realist and understanding that at this point in time, the task is just too big. You should therefore consider the following when deciding whether to tender:

  • Do you have the necessary skills, qualifications and experience in the field? Taking on a job that is too difficult can be extremely stressful and costly. Further to this, the tender may sometimes stipulate certain qualification requirements that must be met for a reason. A similar job will likely come up again so it can be worth it to bide your time and achieve the necessary experience.
  • Is your business big enough? Whilst you may have the level of expertise, make sure that you have enough support to complete the job in accordance with the desired timeframes of the tender.
  • Have you estimated your costs accurately? It is important that you do not under quote your fees in order to win the tender or you may end up out of pocket in the event you win the work.
  • Is your business within a practical distance of the job location you are considering to tender for? If there is a specific location for the job, being in close proximity can be extremely helpful in driving down your costs. Conversely, a job that will require extremely high transport costs may not be sustainable or worthwhile.

 If one of these hurdles appears too big to clear, that doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the tender. Consider whether you would be able to outsource any of the troubling aspects to other parties to ensure that what you produce meets expectations. If you are going to outsource aspects of the job, it is likely that you will need to confirm your intention to do so in your tender application and outline how you will ensure that your subcontractors are suitable and qualified for the tasks.

Get to know your competition

If it is a recurring tender, you will usually be able to find out who has previously held the contract. If this is not the case, it is a good idea to research other parties that may be interested and investigate the strengths and weaknesses in terms of what they have to offer.

Understanding your competition allows you to maximise your competitive advantage by highlighting the aspects of your tender that address the competitor’s deficiencies. Furthermore, you are able to identify the aspects of your process that must be improved to ensure your tender is the best available.

Whilst you should be concentrating on putting forward the best possible tender irrespective of other parties, tweaking the presentation to emphasize your business’ advantages and limit its weaknesses will greatly increase the chance that it is successful.

Proofread

There is nothing more likely to let down a tender than basic grammatical errors. It is critical that your application contains the correct use of grammar, punctuation and is structured in a manner that makes it easy to read and understand. It is important to put yourself into the headspace of the people assessing the applications. They may receive 100’s of applications so they will not be able to spend time going over an application that is poorly structured.

As such, it is imperative that you conduct a thorough review of your tender prior to submission. Don’t just rely on Spellcheck as this often won’t help with structure or pick up all grammatical errors. There are numerous methods of proofreading such as taking breaks between paragraphs, having others review it or even reading it out aloud yourself.

If you don’t feel comfortable compiling the tender from the get-go, consult a professional. Organisations such as Sync or Swim can provide assistance with structuring and presenting your proposal. Presenting a coherent and professional document may just be the edge that you need to get over the line.

Where to from here? 

Tenders can be a lucrative and accessible method of obtaining business, and putting these tips into practice will greatly assist your business unlock its true potential.

If you are interested in investigating existing tenders that may be suitable for your business, the following websites are great places to start:

If you require assistance with any aspect of the tender process from identifying those that would be suitable for your business, to putting the document together or even researching the market, please contact us via email at sos@syncorswim.com.au, via this website using the 'contact us' tab or by phone on 1300 851 281.

Article by: Liam O’Sullivan, Business Development and Compliance Consultant.