Are you the kind of person who has been put in charge of seeking out tenders and trying to get new projects on board? While it should be a relatively simple process, you can find yourself wanting to bang your head against the wall at times.
Even with government changes seeing more small businesses get the opportunity to apply for tenders, and the Supplier Questionnaire coming in to play, those of us in the construction industry know all too well the hang-ups there are in getting everything in order for tenders and making sure that any potential sniff of a project can turn in to something tangible for your business.
So what can be done to simplify the tender process and save you time usually wasted trawling through the nitty-gritty details of a tender? Here are some tips to make life easier and hopefully get access to a wider range of projects too.
Tip 1: Get someone else to write it
Not all tenders are created equal. We all know that. And if you don’t know the lingo so well, you can waste time trying to get yours ready. If you’re relatively new or think you could do better, it’s good to know that there are businesses out there who provide tendering writing servicesand training to help companies with a lack of resource get tenders in order.
Some of the main companies providing this kind of service include:
• Tenders UK
• Complete Tenders
• Thornton & Lowe
I recommend looking to see if any local business groups provide tender training or at least help you get in touch with other local companies who know their way around a tender easily. For example, companies based in Scotland can get local help from a government body like SDP Scotland to see what the businesses in the area wantto see in their tenders.
Tip 2: Narrow down exactly what you want
A needle in a haystack would be an understated way of trying to describe the tender process for novices. At any one time, there can be hundreds of tenders in your area that could see people looking for work on anything from a conservatory job to a hotel needing to be wired.
Tools like Copronet can help you finesse the landscape down to tenders that fit the size of your company and your speciality. So if you’re a retail outfitter in Bristol with a company size of 15 who can only work within a 50 miles radius, or a Belfast based subcontractors who only want to see NI based tenders, use a tool like this to narrow down the noise to pick out those nuggets that a company needs.
Tip 3: Scope out your scope
Scoping out how you envision a tender can be one of the biggest pain points of the process as it’s the one thing everyone who has to approve a tender will look at. Don’t go hiding it in the murky depths of your application.
I’ve seen that some companies will submit a tender with their scope of work as a separate document that someone can quickly look over and easily understand to get an idea of pricing and the timeline. You can keep the breakdown in your scope as detailed as you like, but you still need that “explain like I’m five” element to your proposal.
Tip 4: Ditch the calendar
Did you hear the one about the tender that was awarded on time?
Tenders will tend to promise the moon and the stars by setting key project points against a certain date. This is a bad idea as it can put a fuse against your work, especially if you start a project way beyond the initial start date.
Flip the switch and set project milestones on a timed basis, rather than date. For example, instead of saying the first milestone will be hit on July 1st for a project that has a start date of June 1st, say it will take 30 days. If the project doesn’t start until June 15th, your timeline doesn’t look out of sync anymore and relieves some pressure on promises made.
Tip 5: Ask what went wrong
How many of us will submit a tender, hear it wasn’t awarded and then move on? Instead of wondering why you didn’t get the work, be brave and enquire if there was anything in you tender that rang alarm bells or didn’t seem right.
Getting independent feedback can help you refine future tenders and save you a lot of time spent on elements that are disregarded every time you submit.
Final Tip: Ask around
While tendering can feel like a lonely price, you can get some extra help from stablemates. When applying or a tender, see if you can get in touch with other companies who have been awarded work for those you’re pitching for. Do a little reconnaissance, see what worked for them and even ask if you can see what their tender looked like.
It could help you form a submission your potential client prefers out of the gate.