Engineering tenders can be complex in terms of what exactly is required as a response. By far, tenders in this industry in Australia require the most documents in order to satisfy the evaluation criteria of any tender.
In response to this, we have put together a guide for engineering tenders in Australia and what you as a tenderer need to be aware of to answer them adequately.
From my personal experience, engineering tenders are considerably dense and dry. Coming from a non-STEM background, what is surprising is that the client themselves are often not technically minded.
So in other words, many tender responses (bids) are often written for evaluators that do not work as engineers themselves. This isn’t always the case however and there will usually be someone present who must be able to interpret and validate the technical expertise of the documents provided.
This guide is dedicated to completing an engineering tender and what to look out for as you work madly towards that looming submission date. As engineering is a general, catch-all term that encompasses a variety of engineering fields, the tender in front of you will never be the same.
This guide is based off a public sector civil engineering tender but the sections covered below will be commonly found in non-civil engineering tenders as well. Public sector (government) tenders are the best to cover as an example guide considering they are focused strongly on compliance and producing a bid that is thorough in both tender procedure and information required.
The following documents are often found in engineering tenders in Australia:
- Scope of Works: The Scope of Works for engineering tenders are hopefully highly detailed and extensive. Engineering requirements must be thorough and will require a senior engineer or other technical professional, often at director level, to review and interpret what is actually required. These documents are the domain of the subject matter experts and it is only after they have reviewed the requirements and determine if it is within the realm of capability for a firm to proceed will the tender response itself move forward.
- Returnable Schedules: These schedules will form the basis of your response and make things streamlined when it comes to producing the tender response/bid. At the very least, a compliant bid will require answers to all questions, even if the answer is non applicable.
- Draft Contract: Not all tenders will have draft contracts supplied. But for the ones that do, forwarding a copy of the contract to an engineering firm’s lawyers is a necessity. Any amendments to be made as determined by the lawyers will need to be included on the appropriate schedule as part of the submission.
Now let’s move on to the sections you’d find in many engineering tenders.
Regardless of industry, the Tender Form is a term that describes the section where basic, but necessary, information for the engineering firm is to be located.
The requirements usually ask for the following:
- Company name
- Company Address
- Contact Representative Details
These details will not be hard at all to provide and for future reference, they should be kept and organised somewhere within close reach.
In other words, how will you provide the services required?
Methodology itself is an explanation of how an engineer utilises their experience and skills to progress and eventually complete their services required during a project.
To summarise, this section is highly important as unless you’re an engineer actually doing the work, you will need to rely heavily on the engineer either providing you with substantial content or having to ‘interview’ them to write up the content yourself.
Personally, the methodology section is a benchmark for evaluating a bid. If the methodology section has been written in a way that is easy for a non-technical person to understand (such as a bid writer like myself), then it would likely fare well when being evaluated by the client.
Remember that clients are relying upon engineers for their expertise and that by conveying this expertise in an easy to understand manner, it is essential to a bid’s success.
This section is focused on the nominated team and their current responsibilities. In other words, their capacity.
As to how lawyers are defined by the matters they’re working on, engineers portray their experience through current and past projects. Also, unlike lawyers whom are usually not at liberty to explain their matters in depth, engineers are able to visibly display the projects they’ve worked on throughout their careers.
With all professionals, there is a limit to the amount of projects that can be taken on at any one time. Often, clients will themselves specify the percentage of time an engineer must set aside for the project being tendered.
To efficiently respond, it is expected to keep track of all ongoing responsibilities, a total cost estimate for the project at the date of tender, project references and descriptions close at hand.
Unlike construction, engineering resources refer mostly to the nominated team itself and the intellectual knowhow they will be providing to a designated project. While CVs will always be required as part of a tender, this section allows for further detail of each project to be provided.
Engineers are defined by the projects that they have been involved in. For a tender, engineers can be asked to provide a summary of their project involvement through a projected timeline from beginning to end.
Timelines are usually provided in the form of a gantt chart, segmenting each phase/stage/tranche of a project from initial involvement to completion and post review. As a bid writer, our jobs are to simply review these timelines and ensure that they are understandable to review.
As with all tenders, insurance is a must. Engineers will need to have the following insurances in place before bidding:
- Professional Indemnity
- Public Liability
- Workers Compensation
Furthermore, engineers may be required to use plant and equipment to perform their services and may be asked for evidence of insurance to cover such equipment as well.
At a basic level, the sections covered above make up most of an engineering tender. Completing a bid in this industry can be a struggle at times due to the technical barrier of the content. Personally, I find engineering tenders to be some of the most rewarding to respond to as they are often a challenge and you must communicate effectively with a team of diverse skillsets to win.