The tendering process for any tender normally has the same structure.
The tendering process itself usually consists of the following:
Pursuit Planning/Future Opportunity
Smart businesses are those whom do their utmost to prepare for any future opportunities that are likely to be released in the near future.
To prepare for this, pursuit planning is a strategy that determines how the business can position itself before a tender is released.
A common line of thought when it comes to bids that you may not be aware of is that most clients already have a preferred tenderer in mind. The purpose of pursuit planning is to become that preferred tenderer by engaging with the client.
If this isn’t possible, then certain tenderers will tailor their business offerings and solutions to one’s in line with what the client will likely require. Pursuit planning is an important but often times ignored process.
Good pursuit planning actually makes responding to a tender easier. All the information you’d likely need is right in front of you. All relevant insurance and ISO management policies are up to date and easily accessible. And even sample responses already written for generic questions can just save a lot of time – allowing a business owner to free themselves up to actually run their business.
Bad pursuit planning is essentially no pursuit planning. It’s the typical scenario for most tenderers. A tender is released and many tenderers find themselves suddenly put on notice and unprepared for how best to respond.
A tender that is released is an opportunity waiting to be converted in to a contract.
The most important part of this stage of the tendering process is to read closely through the documents provided and gauge the amount of work required not only for the contract but for the bid itself.
It’s also wise to take note of tender briefings and site visits. These dates are important and while clients may state that briefings are optional, in reality they’re not. Attending attender briefing is important to demonstrate to the client that you’re interested enough in the opportunity to turn up.
Clients take note of who attends and so it’s important for yourself to go and see who else you’ll be up against.
Site visits are usually compulsory so always make sure you can attend.
Even if you can’t, organizing for someone else to go in your stead is vital.
The reality is that most companies won’t do any sort of pursuit planning before a tender is released.
In these cases, the bid kickoff is the initial stage of the tendering process.
Bid kickoffs are a combination of a strategy and delegation session whilst sharing information with all team members who will be involved with the bid.
They can also include a Bid/No Bid discussion that determines whether or not it is even worthwhile for the company to proceed with responding to the tender.
Kickoffs are an important part of the tendering process and make sense when the team involved is relatively large and normally don’t work together. For certain industries such as law or engineering, multidisciplinary tenders are common. Different business lines are required to provide a sufficient response for these tenders so organizing the bid kickoff session is the best way to get everyone organized, informed and concentrated on the tender.
First Review Session
The first review session is an update of what has been done since the bid kickoff. The review itself can be in the form of a meeting or a discussion between colleagues depending on the size of the bid team.
The first review session keeps everyone updated on the following:
- Tasks completed
- Tasks to be completed
- Tender Addendums
- Client discussion
- Fee discussion
- Methodology/response discussion
Book plenty of time for this initial review and ensure that even if someone can’t attend, another colleague in the same business line should be available in their absence.
If possible, it would be wise to get someone else in the business to act as a reviewer. A fresh set of eyes over the bid documents helps to identify any mistakes or give a new perspective to what you are proposing to the client.
Second Review Session
The second review session is similar to the first session for any tendering procedure.
Your bid should be near completion. Any incomplete or unfinished responses should be addressed and actions made to complete them.
You would’ve hopefully incorporated advice from the reviewers if available.
Final Review Session
You may or may not hold this session depending on necessity and time. This session is a safety check to ensure that your bid is compliant and complete.
In a perfect world, this session should be relatively smooth as everyone would’ve made their contributions earlier.
However, if last minute issues appear, then this session should be held regardless to ensure a timely submission.
Depending on who you are, the bid lead or manager is not always the person who can authorize a bid for submission.
Signoff is usually required by a director of the company who authorizes that the bid is compliant, remains valid for a set period of time (usually 60 days) and is an official offer provided by the company to the potential client.
Signoff can be easy if electronic signatures are involved. Otherwise, ensure that the right people are available towards the end of the submission period so that the bid can be submitted on time.
Congratulations when you reach this stage. Ensure that all documents are formatted as per the tender requirements. It’s also a good idea to double check that all documents are included in the submission and that nothing has been left out.
If you are making an electronic submission, then it’s possible to test submitting documents so that there are no further technical issues. The last thing you’d want is the tender portal creating a delay when the submission deadline is only a few minutes away.
The tendering process itself is relatively straightforward once laid out. The difficulty for tenders is miscommunication of tender objectives and dealing with everyone when it comes to their inputs for the bid. Regardless, tendering is a rewarding process that if done correctly, leads to inevitably more business and greater revenue over time.