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Tender Response Project Management
The Three Drivers of Project Management
Tender Response Project Management
Tendering for business is no longer restricted to large corporations. Increasingly, small to medium enterprises (SME) have to compete with each other and the processes are becoming more and more regulated. Not all SMEs have the capacity to deliver a tender response that stands out from the others while continuing their day-to-day activities. There are companies out there that work with clients to provide the extra capacity when it is needed most and deliver end-to-end project management of their tender response process, but if you want do it yourself, take the time to learn the skills to do it properly.
The single most important piece of advice I can give is to treat your tender as a project and apply the principles of Project Management. Like any project you need a Project Manager and a detailed Project Plan – more on that another day. For now I want to take a look at preparing a tender response in terms of the three project drivers; Quality, Budget and Schedule.
Quality When considering the quality of a tender response, it is important to remember that there are two equally important components; style and content. To be effective, your response needs to contain the information you are trying to get across but if no-one can read it, the message is lost.
- Style Style refers to how the document looks and ‘feels’. Requests for Tender (RFT) will often contain specific format requirements. This may be to assist the evaluators who will be looking at multiple responses or to suit their individual IT system. What ever the reason, ignore them at your own peril. If you cannot follow simple instructions about what font and point size to use, how can you be trusted to provide a service for the client? Make sure you note all such requirements when examining the tender documents. Authors must also consider the style in which they write. A poorly presented tender response conveys an impression of sloppiness and unprofessionalism. Things to consider include:
- The use of headings, paragraphs and bullet points
- Font type and size
- The use of shortened forms and the treatment of numbers
- Spelling, capitalisation and hyphens
- Punctuation and grammar
- Voice and register
- Language consistency
- Visual consistency
- Correct format of any front matter
…and the list goes on. It is good practice to develop an in-house style guide to ensure consistency between authors and projects.
- Content The quality of your content refers to how well you answer the questions being asked of you. You will be judged on how you address each and every requirement in the selection criteria. Authors should keep the following in mind:
- Answer the questions fully, answer them truthfully and make sure you can back up each of your claims
- Clients will be looking for value for money so show them how your solution will benefit them
- Make the client the focus and not you
- Demonstrate how you differ from any likely competitors (without mentioning them) and what that brings to the solution
- Be innovative
Producing good quality solutions that look great will go a long way to increasing your win rate.
Budget Creating a tender response is an expensive business in terms of time and resources. Whether you do it yourself or not there is a cost. The budget needs to be set when developing your project plan and it needs to be monitored closely. Items for consideration include:
- If you are writing the response yourself, do you need to get someone in to do your normal job?
- What is the cost to productivity while employees are preparing the tender, what are their wages?
- If you outsource, how much do they charge and how long will you need them?
- Are there any printing or reproduction costs?
- Is there any shipping or travel cost to deliver the tender response?
- Do you need to acquire any specific IT capabilities?
If, after completing your budget, you find that the return from the business opportunity is not worth the cost of the tender preparation, the wiser course of action may be not to bid.
Schedule Knowing how and what to write won’t help you if you don’t get it in on time. Many tenderers have failed at the last hurdle because they didn’t meet their deadlines. This is why you need a project plan and someone to manage it. It is their responsibility to make sure:
- All project personnel are keeping to the schedule
- Everyone knows what is expected of them
- There are no changes to tender conditions including submission date
- Sufficient time is allowed for the tender response to be delivered by mail or hand if required
- If the response is to be uploaded to the client, as is often the case with government tenders, ensure that your IT is compatible and the upload is completed in time. Tender conditions often require that the upload is complete before the closing time, if a large number of responses are being submitted at the same time yours may be late
Tendering is a team sport and as such you need a captain/coach to make sure each player is performing their role at the right time