How to write a successful tender

Here, Celestine Ekpenyong looks at how a small business should go about submitting a successful tender.

Winning the tender and beginning the project is the middle, not the start, of the overarching project: the one that begins with you submitting a successful tender. Celestine Ekpenyong goes through the process.

Outline your strategic tendering goals

Before embarking on your procurement journey, outline your strategic tendering goals. What specific goals would you like to achieve? What sort of contracts, and what value, would you like to procure? Using this outline, it will be much easier to plot a path to success, as you will be targeting specific clients and projects which align with the strategic goals of your organisation.

Ensure that you have everything in place before you start bidding

Get your house in order first! You may have heard this expression before and there is good reason for it. There are too many companies out there who operate a reactive bidding model, as opposed to a carefully planned and considered bidding model. Companies who operate a reactive model, source opportunities first and then frantically source resources to bid for the opportunities, second. This approach is not the most productive way of doing things. It is imperative that you ‘put all of your ducks in a row’ and source all of the necessary bidding resources that you will require ‘before’ you start sourcing opportunities. After all, successful bidding requires successful planning.

Commit dedicated resources to the tendering process

When tendering for opportunities, it’s important to have a focal point in your organisation, a single person or team of people who are responsible for the biding process. Assigning specific responsibility is essential for a number of reasons; the key reason being accountability. If an individual or a specific team feel responsible for the success of a bid, then it’s likely they will take pride in their work and work tirelessly to ensure success.

Research your target client

Most companies have a good idea who their ideal client is or would be, if they could pick and choose themselves. It is very important to know exactly the type of companies that you would be happy to work for. Similarly, it is important to note the companies that you would not be happy to work with. Once you have identified companies on both lists, you must begin to target your preferred companies and align yourself strategically with their goals and objectives.

Be realistic when searching for new opportunities

Only apply for opportunities that you can afford to deliver. The wrong opportunity could lead to loss of earnings or worst case scenario, bankruptcy. To avoid this, always carry out a cost analysis and include income projections with all of your bids.

Express interest in suitable opportunities as soon as possible

Expressing interest in a bid with only a few days left to the submission deadline, only leads to increased pressure and stress. This can be avoided if you always ensure that you express interest in your desired opportunities in a timely manner. As soon as you have identified a suitable opportunity, request the documentation from the client.

Read the guidelines/tender requirements in detail

They say that the devil is in the detail. This is especially true when it comes to tendering for private/public sector opportunities. Important contractual clauses are sometimes hidden away in the depths of lengthy contractual legal documents. It is imperative that all the tender documents are read in detail before the bidding process commences. This way, it is less likely that you will uncover unwelcome contract clauses midway through the tendering process.

Plan your tender submission in detail

Every good story has a captivating beginning, a compelling middle and a gratifying end. Your tender submission should follow the exact same writing process. This process will be successful if you plan ahead and layout the submission ‘section by section’ in detail, before you start writing it. This way you can know ahead of time the associated processes with your submission, i.e. the printing process, the courier delivery process, the marketing process etc.

Present your tender submission professionally

Ensure that your tender submission stands out from your competition. You can do this by investing a little time and money on marketing to ensure that the look and feel of your submission is as professional as it can be. If your submission is visually impressive, as well as contextually compelling then this will pay dividends during the marking process. Consider employing a graphic designer to work with you during the bidding process, to ensure that your bid has a unique look and feel.

Follow up on the result of your tender submission

The follow up process is a very important part of the bidding process, irrespective of whether or not you are successful with your submission. It is important to know which areas of the bid you performed well in and in which areas of the bid you were weaker. This feedback will allow you to improve on the weakest areas and ultimately perfect your submission process. Nobody likes to hear negative feedback. However, it is necessary to receive constructive criticism about your bid, in order to right the wrongs for the good of future submissions.
Good luck!

Celestine Ekpenyong is owner of Every Box Ticked Consultancy.

Further reading on tenders

Ben Lobel

Delphine Hintz

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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