Write Winning & Successful Tender Bids

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The Cleaning Brief Guide to writing successful Tender bids. Breaking through the minefield of tender and procurement.

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<ul><li><p>IntroductionThe aim of this guide is to help you get to grips with the tendering and</p><p>procurement processes; including what you need to consider and how</p><p>to complete tender documents. From our knowledge we share what to</p><p>include, what to avoid, how to prepare professional tenders and</p><p>increase your chances of success.</p><p>Bidding can be a lengthy process and each tender submission different,</p><p>meaning there are no templates where 'one fits al l ' and as anything in</p><p>business, it is going to take commitment and time. That being said the</p><p>rewards of winning these contracts wil l greatly improve the growth and</p><p>success of your business.</p><p>Government Reforms</p><p>As part of the governments 'Business is Great' and the mission to make</p><p>it easier for small , ambitious businesses to expand and grow, central</p><p>government has opened up public procurement.</p><p>For years, small firms have found it difficult to do business with the</p><p>public sector because they have been pushed out by larger companies</p><p>or deterred by the excessive burdens imposed throughout the</p><p>procurement process.</p><p>Central government have made improvements to be rol led out across</p><p>the public sector, particularly in areas such as procurement by hospitals</p><p>and local government services where small businesses have a lot to</p><p>offer.</p><p>1</p></li><li><p>The Government has accepted Lord Young's proposed procurement</p><p>reforms, which wil l provide simpler and more direct access for small</p><p>businesses to the 230bn of annual public sector spending in England.</p><p>The legislation wil l be used in 201 4 to:</p><p> Cut down on process by abolishing Pre-Qualification</p><p>Questionnaires (PQQ) for low- value contracts.</p><p> Mandate the use of a standard core PQQ for high value contracts</p><p>and ensure small business needs are taken into account in the</p><p>design of procurement processes.</p><p> Make contract opportunities easier to find by making them all</p><p>accessible on a single onl ine portal.</p><p> Make sure small firms get treated fairly by mandating prompt</p><p>payment terms all the way down a public procurement supply</p><p>chain.</p><p>To ensure that small businesses see the benefit of these reforms, the</p><p>Government :</p><p> Wil l require al l publ ic bodies to report their procurement spend</p><p>and prompt payment performance with small businesses.</p><p> Wil l prototype a new rating service for small firms to judge public</p><p>bodies on their procurement credentials and for public bodies to</p><p>rate their suppliers so that small businesses who win contracts</p><p>can start to build up their reputations - with a view to rol l ing the</p><p>system out more widely during 201 4.</p><p> Launched a new trial service - Solutions Exchange- to help public</p><p>sector organisations to go to the market to ask for ideas and</p><p>solutions to problems before a formal procurement. The service</p><p>also provides opportunities for SMEs to pitch innovative</p><p>proposals to government.</p><p>Visit http: //solutions-exchange.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/ and</p><p>scrol l down to 'Supplier' to find out more and register.</p><p>This is a trial service, sign up and provide the government with</p><p>the feedback needed to give you with the right service for your</p><p>needs.</p><p> Extend the reach of the Mystery Shopper, so that it not only</p><p>investigates reports of unfair treatment, but also spot checks</p><p>public bodies to make sure that their procurement is small</p><p>business friendly. The results of Mystery Shopper investigations</p><p>2</p></li><li><p>wil l be made more visible so that poor practice by public bodies</p><p>and their contractors can be challenged.</p><p>Go to: https://www.gov.uk/doing-business-with-government-a-guide-for-</p><p>smes#mystery-shopper-scheme for more information on the mystery</p><p>shopper scheme.</p><p>The government has produced some great guides on tendering for</p><p>public sector contracts including https://www.gov.uk/doing-business-</p><p>with-government-a-guide-for-smes with l inks to quick guides and video</p><p>clips from SMEs, their tips and how they have benefitted.</p><p>Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence</p><p>v2.0.</p><p>3</p></li><li><p>4</p></li><li><p>Your tender or bid is a written presentation detai l ing how you can</p><p>meet a purchasing company's needs within a budget. I t has often</p><p>been referred to as your company c.v. or the 'si lent sales person'.</p><p>In the 'usual ' way of gaining contracts, we wil l often visit the premises,</p><p>l isten to our potential cl ients needs and tel l them how we can meet</p><p>them, how we differ from our competitors and provide them with a</p><p>quote, obviously there is more to it than this but that is a whole new</p><p>guide. Tendering is pretty much the same, only written and in a format</p><p>similar to your business plan or c.v. The advantage of tendering, aside</p><p>from the value of contracts, is that rather than having to answer all the</p><p>cl ients questions on the spot, you now have time to think about your</p><p>answers, no more 'I should have said. . . . . ' post walk through.</p><p>The Tender Process</p><p>Once you have found a contract you would l ike to tender for you would</p><p>general ly be sent a Pre-qualification Questionaire, however with the</p><p>new initiative being brought in to abolish PQQs for smaller contracts</p><p>and if you are new to tendering it is recommended that you start your</p><p>tender bidding with these smaller contracts to gain experience and</p><p>help build up your reputation. Just to note, 'smaller contracts' are</p><p>those worth under 1 00,000 However it is worth being aware of and</p><p>what a pre-qualification questionnaire or PQQ is as there wil l sti l l be</p><p>some organisations who wil l require you to complete one and at some</p><p>point you wil l be in a position to tender for the larger contracts. The</p><p>purpose of a PQQ is simple, it's a process to fi lter out those</p><p>organisations considered a lower level of risk than others due to</p><p>financial position or from processes that match the organisation</p><p>requirements.</p><p>The Pre-Qualification Questionnaire is sent to you when you express</p><p>5</p></li><li><p>an interest in a contract and wil l ask for information regarding your</p><p>previous experience, financial position and references. You wil l have to</p><p>provide all the information requested to move forward to the next</p><p>stage. When providing detai ls of your previous experiences, be sure</p><p>they are relevant to the contract. The financial information requested</p><p>wil l be to ensure that if you were awarded the contract, you have the</p><p>resources to carry it out. I f you can provide references from a company</p><p>in a similar industry that would be a bonus, but don't worry if not, as</p><p>long as they are professional, good and fit any criteria al l wil l be well .</p><p>A sample copy of a PQQ can be found under the Resources chapter of</p><p>this guide.</p><p>Once you have completed your PQQ and if it is successful, you wil l</p><p>then receive an 'invitation to tender'. Within the invitation to tender you</p><p>are l ikely to find further instructions, a deadline date and a letter</p><p>requesting you to confirm whether or not you wil l be bidding for the</p><p>contract . I f you are provided with a self-addressed envelope or</p><p>address label,</p><p>envelope. You must use this when sending in your bid. You wil l also be</p><p>provided with detai ls of what the organisation wants, which sets out</p><p>what you need to provide and a draft copy of the contract terms and</p><p>conditions.</p><p>Final ly, a l ist of criteria explaining how your bid wil l be assessed, this is</p><p>usually cal led the 'evaluation criteria' and is an important piece of</p><p>information to help you understand how you can meet the</p><p>organisations needs, what is of highest importance to them and their</p><p>ideals upon quality and cost.</p><p>6</p></li><li><p>7</p></li><li><p>Preparation</p><p>In order to save time before finding a contract prepare and keep</p><p>updated a fi le containing the fol lowing general documentation asked for,</p><p>this includes:</p><p>Company information, such as Contact detai ls, certificate of</p><p>incorporation, registered address, VAT number etc</p><p>Financial information, such as last three years auditable accounts if</p><p>applicable, profit and loss, management accounts</p><p>Technical information, such as insurance certificates, accreditations</p><p>and references.</p><p>Policies including health and safety, Environmental management,</p><p>training and recruitment, business continuity and equal opportunity.</p><p>This l ist isn't exhaustive and once you get started you wil l get an idea of</p><p>the documentation regularly asked for in your field, but preparing in this</p><p>way can save some considerable time and stress from chasing these</p><p>documents when you have a deadline to meet. Always check the</p><p>information requested and only send what is asked for.</p><p>Planning</p><p>Before writing out your tender, it is always a good idea to famil iarise</p><p>yourself with al l the documentation and information you have been</p><p>given. You wil l need to make sure you can deliver the level of service</p><p>the organisation is asking for , within the set timeframes, for the length</p><p>of the contract and that you have all the resources you require. The</p><p>factors you need to take into account wil l largely depend upon your own</p><p>organisation, as well as the information you have been provided with.</p><p>8</p></li><li><p>Look at the timescales given and draw up your plan around this.</p><p>Your plan should contain:</p><p>What information is being asked for?</p><p>When can you obtain al l the information?</p><p>What needs to go into your bid? Highl ight or make notes on the needs</p><p>set out by the organisation, how can you resolve them (spider charts</p><p>are a great tool for this).</p><p>What relevant detai ls can make your organisation stand out from the</p><p>rest? What is your unique sell ing point?</p><p>How long wil l you need to write up, check and edit your bid?</p><p>Is there anyone else who could help you ?</p><p>Is the organisation holding any meetings or information days you</p><p>should attend. These are great opportunities to receive clarification on</p><p>what is required and to check out the competition.</p><p>When planning and preparing your bid there are minimum standards</p><p>an organisation wil l expect you to meet, if you fail to meet these</p><p>standards then the l ikelyhood is that your bid wil l not even be read, let</p><p>alone considered. As harsh as this may sound, these purchasing</p><p>organisations may have hundreds of tenders to read throughout the</p><p>year. The minimum standards tend to be:</p><p>You understand and have responded to all the organisation's</p><p>requirements.</p><p>Your tender is tai lored to the exact requirements of the organisation,</p><p>explaining how the work wil l be carried out and how you wil l assist</p><p>them to meet their objectives.</p><p>You have fol lowed all the instructions given.</p><p>Your bid is written well , free of significant errors and easy to read</p><p>You can offer good value for money, not just the cheapest price.</p><p>Your bid is competitive</p><p>Your approach is professional and positive.</p><p>As stated earl ier the the purchasing organisation may read through</p><p>hundreds of bids a year and so their evaluation team are adept at</p><p>spotting a poorly produced tender.</p><p>9</p></li><li><p>1 0</p></li><li><p>Aside from meeting the minimum standards, to ensure your bid</p><p>stands a greater chance of becoming a winning bid, it must:</p><p> Provide supporting evidence of any claims made and any</p><p>additional documentation provided to be clearly referenced.</p><p> Demonstrate commitment to contiuous improvement, best</p><p>practice and the organisation.</p><p> Show experiences of how your organisation has put theory into</p><p>practice.</p><p> Provide clear detai l of possible variations.</p><p>Tender Presentation</p><p>Quality of writing</p><p>Good writing skil ls are critical when writing your tender. Whilst you may</p><p>well be the best man for the job, if you fail to get the key messages</p><p>across or produce a tender that is unclear with no structure, the</p><p>organisation is unl ikely to consider you further.</p><p>Style of writing</p><p>The writing style of your tender must be:</p><p>1 . Interesting</p><p>Your bid must grab the evaluators attention and give them something to</p><p>remember. Provide good opening statements that get to the point, add</p><p>11</p></li><li><p>a piece of 'lesser known' information relevant to them. What innovative</p><p>and interesting solutions could you propose?</p><p>2. Clear and concise</p><p>Write in a way that is easy to read and straight to the point. Don't waffle</p><p>on, just include what is necessary. Use plain English and be consistent</p><p>in your terminology and language use. Avoid the use of weak qualifiers,</p><p>keeping sentances short should help el iminate unecessary qualifiers</p><p>that exaggerate your statements but too easily become over used,</p><p>such as very and really. Also watch out for those qualifying words that</p><p>can weaken your statements, such as fairly, rather, mostly, general ly,</p><p>somewhat etc, be confident and assertive in your proposals. We do is a</p><p>stronger statement than we mostly do or general ly do.</p><p>3. Good punctuation and spell ing</p><p>I t would be a very sad reason to lose a contract because of significant</p><p>bad grammar and poor spell ing, with tools l ike spell ing and grammar</p><p>check, it is inexcusable. As well as making your bid appear hurried and</p><p>the potential for statements being misunderstood, poor presentation in</p><p>this way could be deemed as a lack of a commitment to the contract</p><p>and organisation.</p><p>4. Professional, with a personable touch</p><p>First and foremost, your tender is a formal and legal offer and should</p><p>be written in a professional way. The tone of the tender should,</p><p>however give the evaluator a sense of the people behind the</p><p>proposals. Don't be over famil iar and it isn't the place for comedy. Be</p><p>positive, confident, excited and believe in what you are offering and it</p><p>wil l come through in your tender writing.</p><p>The Structure</p><p>Organisations wil l either tel l you directly the order your tender should</p><p>be written in or wil l expect you to fol low the same order they have set</p><p>out in the evaluation criteria or invitation to tender documents. Set out</p><p>your proposals clearly ensuring the information you provide flows. Don't</p><p>jump from one point to another and back again. The structure of your</p><p>tender needs to make it easy for the evaluator to understand your</p><p>proposals, going off course makes their job harder, important</p><p>information can be missed and runs the risk of losing points. Fol lowing</p><p>the order set out in the invitation to tender documents is not only of</p><p>1 2</p></li><li><p>benefit for the evaluator but wil l make it easier to create a smooth</p><p>flowing tender. An effective way to break up sections is to use</p><p>diagrams, charts or pictures to help clarify the points made. Be careful</p><p>not to use too many, as this can make a bid look cluttered and messy,</p><p>think of them as a welcome break from the black and white rather than</p><p>a bombardment of colour distracting them from the written text.</p><p>I t is a good idea when you have completed your tender to write and</p><p>include a summary of the offer you have made, the main points you</p><p>want the evaluator to take note of . This is cal led an 'Executive</p><p>summary' and should be no longer than one page. I t is the 'go-to' page</p><p>to enable evaluators to re-cal l who you are and what you are</p><p>proposing.</p><p>Responding to Requirements</p><p>I t is imperative to your success that your tender proposal answers all</p><p>the questions and requirements of the purchasing organisation. You</p><p>must present a solution to every need stated. Ask yourself How can I</p><p>satisfy this need or How can I answer this question? Can I or Can't I</p><p>isn't an option. I f you are unclear about any of the requirements or</p><p>questions asked, don't be afraid to ask...</p></li></ul>