How to prepare & respond to a tender document

For businesses who are looking for contract opportunities to provide their goods or services to public and private organisations, the tender documents will provide a lot of information to help them determine if it is a suitable opportunity to bid for.

The tender document will be available, typically via the online portal, for bidders to read, with guidance of how the tender response should be carried out.

We explain more about what is included, and how to plan and respond to them in this article. So, if you’re interested in winning tenders, keep reading for our expert tips to develop a successful response too. 

What is a tender document?

Buyers who are looking for certain goods or services need to develop something called a ‘tender document’, which will include information about what they need, when they need it and what their expectations are.

Businesses who can provide these goods (suppliers) will look at these tender documents, analyse them fully and understand what the buyer is looking for. They can then plan out their response and pitch to win against other businesses who would also like to provide this service.

Tender documents must be prepared for all bid and tender opportunities, with contracts available across many industries from construction to healthcare.

What’s included in a tender document?

Tender documents can differ depending on the industry the goods or services are being procured, and the size of the framework or project on offer. 

Public sector tenders can also typically be more rigorous than the private sector, and the process from sourcing the tender, pre qualification questionnaire, invitation to tender, submit and awarding, can vary both in terms of the specific steps and the timescales. This will all be communicated from the outset and the tender document will explain next steps and deadlines. 

Typically, the below forms the tender documents;

  • An invitation to tender – This essentially means that your business has been successful so far and can continue to tender for the contract through a formal bid.

  • The contract overview – This can vary across tender documents, some will give you pages of information and others will provide a short summary of works. 

  • Instructions about next steps & deadline – The buyer will outline their deadline and any specific requirements and expectations they wish. You should pay close attention to this and ensure that you read the instructions in detail. This also includes the contract information and terms and conditions. 

  • The evaluation and specification information – The buyer will outline what they expect to see and how they will evaluate the tender responses to determine successful bids. 

Before we even move onto our top tips, the biggest tip that we could give any business is to fully read ALL of the information that makes up the tender document before even considering to write and develop a response. 

How to respond & complete the tender document

So you’ve got the tender documents, now what? Well, once you have read them in detail and got an understanding of the works you can now start to plan and prepare your tender submission. 

Developing your tender response can be a daunting task, particularly if you aren’t experienced in bid writing specifically. But there are common silly mistakes everyone makes that can easily be avoided by following some of our tips and guidance below. 

Firstly, you should consider and be honest with yourselves if this tender opportunity is suitable for you. Are you truly able to provide the service or goods they are specifically looking for, and within potential pricing requirements too. The contract value, length of project, and scope of works could determine whether investing further time in a tender response is actually worth it. 

Once you’ve made the decision to tender you can start to plan what is required, if anyone else is going to support you with the response, any evidence and documents you may need to provide and what your key strengths and USP’s are in-line with the criteria and evaluation documents. 

When it comes to writing, here’s our top 5 tips;

  1. Make sure you answer the questions, all of them. They are likely to include specific questions or sections so make sure you actually do cover everything they are looking for. 

  1. Seek clarification where required. If you have any questions, get in touch with the buyer. Details of how to do this will be in the tender document. 

  1. Plan your work and discuss your answer with other team members. It can be easy to jump straight in and answer the question but you should put yourself in the buyer’s shoes and think about the actual value you are offering. Are you actually going to stand out from any other competitors? 

  1. Proofread multiple times, by other people. It’s often the case that when you work on something you become blind to your own mistakes. Therefore, get all of the work checked over by another person, or two. No one wants to see a spelling mistake in a bid.

  1. Give yourself enough time and work to deadlines. Obviously you need to work to the end deadline set by the buyer, but also having your own deadlines for sections and answers can really help to ensure you are on track. Also, if you do have help from other team members make sure they understand its importance and have deadlines that work for you both.

The most important tip is to take the time to read and understand the tender documents, it is only with this knowledge that you can make a decision, then plan and respond. 

Do you need to brush up on your bid writing skills? We have virtual and classroom based tender writing training for all capabilities and industries so that you can learn more tips from our expert team.

Find out more about our courses here.

Or, if you’re looking for professional bid writing support, our experienced bid writers can be on hand to guide you through the entire tender process and develop a bid deemed for success, generating new contract opportunities for your business.

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