Tendering has become a vital part of business in today's fast-paced and competitive business environment. A company may need a specific product or service and invite other companies to submit a proposal or bid to supply these goods or services. This invitation is called a Request For Tender (RFT) or an Invitation to Tender (ITT). Once a company submits an RFT, other parties flock to submit their document, called a Tender, in the hopes of winning the contract.
Large financial institutions and governments are some of the leading entities to issue RFTs since they often have large and complex projects in the pipeline. However, medium and large-sized enterprises often engage in tendering too. In other words, tendering for contracts is no longer an activity only done by the "big fish."
But what exactly is tender management? And how do you write a bid that will put you ahead of the competition? So let's get into it.
Tender management is the process of planning and selecting bids and keeping a comprehensive audit trail that can be used to outline best practices for future contracts. Tender management can refer to activities conducted by the buyer (someone who submits the RFT) or the supplier (the company bidding for the contract.
For companies issuing RFTs, tender management encompasses activities that will streamline future tendering processes. For example, many companies forget lessons learned from previous tenders because they don't keep tendering documentation in a central location. However, continuously reflecting on old tenders can remind the buyer of solutions offered by previous bidders and give them new ideas for requirements on the new project. In addition, old bids can contain a trove of valuable information that may not have been relevant at the time but are relevant now.
Tender management solutions for buyers typically automate many of the time-consuming or laborious tasks involved in the process, like issuing reminders, calls for completion, and managing tender responses.
On the other side, tender management can encompass all activities involved in finding and bidding for contracts. Some companies hire a Tender Manager, whose job it is to:
- Find and track the most appropriate upcoming contracts.
- Manage deadlines for bid work.
- Gather relevant information, choose the most effective company literature to attach, and write the tender and any tender responses.
The tender manager will extensively create and review the tender proposal before signing it off and submitting it.
Planning is critical for effective tender writing. It's crucial to not just consider the tender deadline but whether your company is a good fit for the RFT. If you submit a lousy proposal due to a lack of proper planning, it can harm your company's reputation and ensure you're always put in the reject pile.
To avoid falling into this trap, ensure you fully understand the requirements, you are capable of fulfilling them without drastic changes to how your business operates today, and that you can deliver to budget. Lastly, you should ensure you have the resources to complete the project.
Typically, the first part of the selection process involves filling in a pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ). This document will ask you to fill in some basic company information, confirm you are compliant with current legislation, and assess your technical and professional ability.
Under the technical and professional ability section, you'll have a chance to sell yourself in around 500 words. With such a limited word count, you must focus on the most critical details of any previous case studies. For example, you'll want to describe the scale of the previous project, how you mobilized to deliver, whether you had any challenges, and how you overcame those challenges. Lastly, you'll want to talk about the results. For example, did you finish on time and to budget? Has the contract been extended or renewed?
The PQQ will likely be the first thing the buyer reads, so getting it right is paramount. However, the rest of your tender proposal needs also to be strong. Here are some tips for effective proposal writing to guide you through the rest of the process:
Be concise and orderly - The buyer company will potentially read many 10s or even 100s of proposals, so anything you can do to make yours easier to read will give you an edge. Make sure you format the document using headings that match questions in the RFT, try to write in simple and clear sentences, and use bullet points where possible.
Avoid fluff - Fluff or filler content might make your document look bigger, but bigger doesn't mean more impressive. Don't include anything that doesn't directly add to your argument. For example, a statement like "At X company, we strive for quality in everything we do" is unnecessary. Instead, prove your point by offering examples.