In our experience, it is much better to take a considered approach to tendering than the shotgun approach. Firing off tender submissions that have been rushed through, completed without input from other departments, and costed on a scrap piece of paper will lead to a poor contract win rate. Even if you manage to submit many more tenders this way, your success rate will soon tell you you're wasting your time. Effective bid / no bid decisions need to be taken as early as possible using a structured process.
While tender timescales are usually tight, you must make good use of all available time so you don't place yourself at a disadvantage. This means obtaining all of the tender documents as soon as they are published and immediately starting your bid / no bid decision process.
This important first step will help you decide if the contract is worth bidding for and if you should allocate your full bid writing resources to the tender opportunity. Some questions that you and your colleagues should consider include the following:
- Can the service or product the commissioner wants be delivered to the required quality, within the available budget?
- Does this contract fit with our company’s strategic vision?
- Could a profit be made?
- Do we meet the eligibility criteria in terms of turnover, experience and quality?
- What are the contract risks and can they be managed?
- Can we successfully implement the contract within the required timeframes?
- Can we implement and deliver the contract without it negatively impacting on our other contracts?
- Do we have a realistic chance of winning?
Filtering tender opportunities in this way will help you to focus your resources on bidding for contracts that are most suitable for your company. It is much better to use your time and energy bidding for contracts that will offer bigger rewards (e.g. greater returns, enhanced reputation, new partnerships or new growth opportunities) than to go for anything and everything that comes along.
Sometimes, timescales are so tight that companies have little choice but to start writing their bids while they are still working out whether they should submit. This happened to one of our clients recently. Three days into the tender process, their finance team realised that the contract could not be delivered, to the required quality and standards, within the ceiling price. A decision was taken to put the brakes on. Even though three days were lost, this decision was still better than ploughing on, only to submit a bid that would either fail on price, or result in a contract being delivered poorly on a shoestring budget.
In summary, making better bid / no bid decisions will improve the efficiency of your bid writing and lead to a better contract win rate.