From rummaging the corners of the web, to lapping shopping centres in search of in-house sign-posting, to addressing key selection criteria, interviews, quizzes and online assessments. The on-and-off job hunt – extending its reach for many years – is nothing short of infuriating. Throw in a global pandemic and your fight becomes swimming upstream against a powerful current destroying much in its path.
I know what you’re thinking. What does job hunting have to do with tendering? As an impassioned (and oftentimes pained) job seeker of the past two years, who am I to tell you whether or not your business should bid on the tender?
It’s actually quite simple.
The decision to apply or not to apply bears many similarities to the considerations involved in the decision to bid or not to bid.
Are you truly the perfect candidate for the job position or does your business pose the most candid solution for the agency’s issue at stake?
Conversely, is this position or tender truly and wholeheartedly going to benefit you or your business on a personal and professional scale?
These are questions you (or your business) need to carefully consider before applying for a job or placing a bid on a tender.
I know how that sounds. Easier said than done right? Well I can openly admit that I’ve applied to many and varied positions that don’t align with my previous experience, my academic background or even my work/life balance, time or interests. I’m sure we’ve all thrown in an application here and there in a moment of sheer desperation in the hope of securing any damn job. When your income depends on it and your whole life usually requires an income, it’s not hard to see the reasoning behind this behaviour – especially in COVID times.
But I’m here to tell you that this sort of desperation often won’t land you any job, nor will it land your business that lucrative tender. Even if you’re lucky enough in today’s competitive landscape to secure “any damn job”, if you’re unhappy, your work/life balance is at odds and you’re compromising yourself in order to sustain an income, at the end of the day it’s not worth it and you are not the perfect candidate for the job, nor is your business the most candid solution for the tender. On that last note, let me explain.
I feel like naturally it’s in your business’ best interest to bid on attainable, sustainable and beneficial tenders. Unfortunately as seen in the job hunt, oftentimes desperation gets the better of businesses likewise. So what is the solution to this?
Firstly, try stepping into the [other] business’ shoes. But you also need to stay true to yourself or your business and it’s values and capabilities – the same thing goes for yourself when applying for a position. Will this position (or tender) be beneficial to you or your company? Will it be sustainable? Will this decision enable you to grow as a professional individual or business?
Try to truly empathise with other businesses. Though businesses can vary immensely, at the end of the day you are in the same boat so imagine if it were your business procuring a tender in search of the perfect candidate to fulfil your needs. As a small business yourself, you understand the demands, the financial obligations and the many and varied risks involved in such a weighted decision. Imagine if it were your business seeking a partnership that would enable you to expand your business on a larger scale, to a larger niche. Or if there was a hole in the equation and you sought expertise in order to rectify this issue. How would you feel if fellow businesses behaved superficially in their bids and didn’t truly consider your business’ requirements? Similarly if you were an employer (which could also be a small business, or your business for that matter) seeking experience, expertise and undivided passion in a new role and say, Gary threw in an application having no experience, unrelated qualifications and seeking ‘a good time’, how would you feel? (Sorry Garry…)
So before placing your bid on the latest tender (or applying for any old job likewise), consider the minutiae of how and why your business, services or personal professionalism, meets the demands of the business or proposal. Consider why and how you or your business can provide the perfect solution – above all others – to the situation at hand. So, how do I do that, I hear you ask?
We’ve comprised a handy checklist for your business’ careful consideration before placing your bid. Intimately comprehend and review each point in regards to your business’ stance, and immediately flag doubts if any are raised.
Is this tender beneficial for your business? Or is this plan part of your business strategy? How and why?
In what ways will this tender benefit, improve or advance your business? Is this move strategic in nature and will it allow your business to expand?
Consider the pros and cons of each outcome, weigh those up including risks and assess the ways in which the tender could progress (or inhibit, hopefully not!) your business. Carefully consider the ways in which certain outcomes could occur, ripple effects and immediate changes that face your business in the long scheme of things. Don’t forget to analyse the challenges you may face, considering both outcomes!
Is this a new tender or an extension of an existing contract?
Has your company previously engaged in tendering with this business? Is this tender an extension of a past tender or contract? Or is it brand new? If it is built upon an existing tender then obviously the decision facing your business will be a lot easier – how did your business manage the previous tender? Were there any issues or discrepancies? Were all of the terms and conditions of the contract met? How did this partnership impact upon your business? What about your client’s business? Have you established trust with the client based upon your previous involvement? Do you consider the business reliable and would you recommend their services to another business?
Do you have a relationship with the client?
If your business has already signed a contract with the client in the past, consider your business-to-business (B2B) relationship. Would you recommend their business and services? Are they trustworthy and professionally managed? Have they gone above and beyond in their correspondence and cooperation with the previous contract or have they been slack? Also consider the nature of that relationship. What adjectives would you use to describe it? And how would you rate their level of professionalism?
Who is currently providing the services?
Consider any existing services between your business and the incumbent. Who has committed to what service? Is it a two-way street? Analyse any existing processes as well as any potential operations in the case of securing the tender.
Do you meet the minimum/mandatory requirements of the RFP/RFT/EOI?
Ensure that you meet ALL of the requirements addressed in each tender document. This is very similar to meeting the key selection criteria when applying for a job. The client has carefully considered each criterion in regards to the role, as each is necessary to the tasks involved.
Employers and clients disclose criteria in order to refine their search. If you or your business does not meet even one point, then you are not fit for the position. Yes, this may sound dramatic and yes I may be a little guilty of disregarding this in the past by still applying for those jobs. But did I get the job? Nope. Consider what is at stake for your business if you do not fulfil a requirement, or conversely if you were tendering and you received bids from businesses that could not commit to your prerequisites, what would be the outcome for the applicant?
Do you have the appropriate experience to undertake and deliver the requirements of the tender?
Does your company’s previous experience leverage its ability to deliver the requested outcome to the client? As with the job hunt, if you had zero experience in the industry, the business is unlikely to select you from its pool of applicants. Trust me, as a recent graduate I would know this one! The employer would choose another applicant over you 9 out of 10 times based on that applicant having previous experience in the industry. The same thing goes for a business seeking another business for their tender. If your business had little to no experience in the specified area, would they be likely to trust in your ability to handle the request? Unlikely. Ensure that your company is backed by previous experience in order to deliver on the requirements of the tender. Though it is totally acceptable to gain new experience and develop new skills in any new employment or for a change of career path, if there is no experience in selected area in a tender, you might want to potentially reconsider if you are the most candid fit for the job.
Have you worked for the client (agency) previously?
Were there any existing contracts between your business and the client previously? Are they still being implemented? What is your B2B dynamic or relationship? If this is a new partnership, carefully consider the requirements of the tender as well as the impact either outcome would have upon your business.
Do you know why this tender has been released, and do you understand what the requirements of the client (agency) are?
What is the overarching objective of the tender? What is the end-goal? What does the client hope to achieve by securing the tender and what are the benefits and challenges that the client faces in doing so? Ensure that you fully comprehend the requirements of the client. Break down sentences into phrases and key words to help decipher their goals, values and what is the most crucial information.
Do you know who your competitors will be for this tender?
Analyse your competitors in order to gain a deeper insight into the tender. Who are they, what are their values, what are their strengths, weaknesses and what can they ultimately bring to the tender, potentially that your company cannot? What differentiates their business from yours? What does your company have to offer that outweighs their offerings?
Are you appropriately resourced to meet the requirements of the tender without affecting existing clients?
Do you have the resources to commit to the tender including personnel, time and finances? Will the tender impact upon or affect your existing clients? Would this be in a positive or negative light? How will the tender affect your clients, and the procedures already set in place? How and why would the tender not affect existing clients and will this pose any issues?
Do you know the potential revenue from this contract? Is this sufficient for the work required?
Would securing the tender provide a substantial return on investment in regards to finances? What is the estimated profit margin and capital turnover considering the tender? Sit down and calculate approximate estimated figures in order to make a financially informed decision before you commit to the tender. The more informed the decision, the better. From a job-hunting perspective, this would involve you considering pay rates per hour, per annum, weekly and monthly. You’d need to decipher whether or not the pay rate is substantiated through the expected workload including both the amount of hours required per week, as well as the quality and quantity of responsibilities expected of the role. Ask yourself, is the monetary value worth the amount of work, type of work and level of commitment required of the job? Is it not solely about the money? The same question applies for securing a tender. Does the deal allow a deeper establishment for the B2B relationship? Does it enable a greater sense of trust from consumers or establish a certain brand status or identity? Ultimately, as I like to put it, is the juice worth the squeeze?
Are there any conflicts of interest?
Study the tender landscape in its specific industry as well as your business’ stance. Does any part of your company’s values fall incongruent with the client’s values, ethics, procedures or protocols? Do all of the tender requirements coincide smoothly with the existing operation of your business? Or are there conflicts of interest? If so, can these be resolved or are they ultimately detrimental?
Do you have support from the company’s Management/Board or Executive Team?
Does your company possess the backing support from prominent members of the client’s team? If not, what would you need to do in order to earn that support? In what ways is this achievable?
What are the tender evaluation criteria and do you meet them?
Study the tender evaluation criteria – one by one – with analytic precision. Note the key words used and the themes and address each carefully and with purpose. The same thing goes for addressing key selection criteria when seeking employment. The client or employer has strategically formulated each point based on the key requirements of the role or tender. Ensure that you meet every single criterion before placing your bid or application. You also need to demonstrate why and how you meet each requirement, illustrating using key scenarios and examples. The client or employer wants you to show rather than tell your experience through specific examples. There’s no point making claims that you have done xyz without the backing of anecdotal evidence.
Are you able to meet the implementation period?
Is your business capable of providing the service or deliverables by the agreed-upon date? Create a schedule (even a hypothetical one) and plan when each task will be completed, how long each task will take and individual due dates to ensure your company can commit to the allotted timeframe. Plan carefully considering your capabilities with other contracts or clients and the overall workload.
Are there any costs associated with meeting the tender requirements?
Carefully consider the tender requirements including any potential costs involved. Will this expenditure provide a financially rewarding return on investment? Will your company be able to recover the costs through future revenue thanks to securing the tender? Sit down and do the maths before you commit to your bid.
Do you have the resources to commence the tender response straightaway?
Carefully consider the resources required to craft (and perfect) your bid. Are these resources available immediately? Ensure that you have legal representation look over the final draft, for one. Other resources are varied and many. Consider what resources work best for your bid – you can’t go wrong with more rather than less help. Take your time yet prioritise the bid appropriately. If the outcome of securing the tender is significant enough for your business to place a bid, then drafting the most succinct and accurate bid should be a top priority.
What is the cost of preparing this tender?
Calculate the exact costs involved with drafting your bid. What are the costs involved for your legal representation to review the draft, for example? What are the costs involved with other necessary resources? Will you be able to recover this expenditure through securing the tender? Why and how?
Have you identified your point-of-difference from your competitors, as well as your valued-added services by offering a creative and innovative service or product?
What does your company have to offer over the next one? What makes your bid unique and what kind of revolutionary service will you bring to the table? For job applicants the same thing goes. What can you bring to the role and company that the next five applicants can’t? What makes you unique or special and does that comprise the main reason that the company should hire you? Why and How?
Now that you’ve read our step-by-step break down, it’s your turn to go ahead and complete the checklist before ultimately committing to your bid. Answer each question with a yes or no, followed by a comprehensive breakdown as suggested. You may need to take lengthy notes and it will take you awhile if it’s done properly. Once you are finished, analyse your results and carefully consider this crucial ultimatum – to bid or not to bid?
If you’d like to connect with a tender writing professional with almost two decades’ worth of experience, let’s organise a time to chat.
Or download my free Tender Cheat Sheet, to get you started.
And don’t forget about our closed Facebook group The Tender Hub – learn more.
Kristine Daw is the Managing Director of Dawtek, a Melbourne-based company specialising in tenders and proposals, technical writing, business documentation, copywriting, editing and creating business templates. Kristine and her small team have a range of clients including small businesses, multi-national corporations, all levels of government and not-for-profits.
1300 DAWTEK or dawtek.com.au