One of the first things I do when starting on a new tender is fill out my check list. I include some of the most mundane tasks just to make sure I don’t overlook them. The truth is I’ve written so many tenders throughout my career that most of these things I do without thinking. But that’s definitely not the case for others.
There is nothing more frustrating about losing a tender than losing it through poor planning. Don’t be one of those people that have an amazing offering, spend time and money writing a quality response, only to over look the word count, or send a file that exceeds the allowable limit. And these are just the small things. Here are a few key things that you definitely should not overlook when writing a tender.
Check Your Calendar and Work Backwards
Consider the closing date of the tender, look at your calendar and the projects you already have on your plate. Only once you’ve done this, and identified a gap in your calendar that allows you enough time to plan, write and draw together your response, should you go ahead with it.
Wasting resources on trying to throw together a tender response in a short time can be damaging to a business. Not only do you risk damaging your brand by submitting something substandard, you risk throwing away valuable time and money on something you had no chance to do justice. Don’t overlook your workload and be realistic about your capacity to deliver something great.
Check that You Are Tender-Ready?
Is your tender library up to date? Do you have all your insurance certificates? Do you have a tender response team mobilised and ready to start work? Launching in to responding to a large tender when you’re not ready can be a disaster waiting to happen. Large tender responses require strategic management and are not to be taken lightly. Don’t take the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants approach; it won’t end well.
Bring In an Expert
More often than not, if your relying on a subject matter expert for the bulk of your tender, you will also need to bring in an editor or professional tender writer. A mistake that I see way too frequently when I get the SOS calls from clients is that editorially speaking, the tender is a disaster.
If you have several subject matter experts working on a response, more often than not readability is compromised and you’ll end up submitting something substandard. Not because the content isn’t up to scratch, but because the experts aren’t writers, they are experts in other fields. So don’t overlook this important step, make sure it reads well, is easy to follow, avoids jargon and has clarity.
Check, and Double Check The Little Things
As I mentioned earlier, check the work count specifications, check the allowed file size for digital submissions, check what time the portal closes. Don’t assume it’s 5pm, it can often be 1 or 2 pm so the client can collate the response and be ready to start reading the next morning. Check that they only wants a soft copy, or do they want a paper copy too? If so how many? All this information will be in the RFT, so comb through it before you start putting together your response and make a special note of all the little things that could be easily overlooked. By doing this you’ll be making sure you don’t get tripped up.
If you’re feeling a bit unsure about all things tenders, it might be worth considering doing some online tender training. You can view my full suite of courses here.