The upsides of winning government tenders are very worthwhile. There’s the guarantee of prompt payment, plus a government contract looks good on the corporate CV and once you’ve worked with one government agency or department, it stands you good stead for further government work.
Writing successful government tenders requires a bit of legwork. There’s no denying that government tenders are challenging. They’re time consuming, involve a lot of paperwork and the questions often seem repetitive.
But when you know how to write government tenders, it’s very possible to win.
If government tender writing is part of your business development strategy for 2023, or if you currently tender to government without much success, here’s our advice on how to nail your government tenders.
1. Do exactly what the government RFT or RPT asks
First up, if you decide to respond to a government request for tender (RFT) or request for proposal (RFP), be sure to follow every detail in the RFT documents. Government tenders have a lot of compliance – policies, insurance and plans that you must provide with your tender. It’s easy to be non-complying, so do everything that’s asked. That means answering every question, completing every part of the responses schedules and attachments and signing all the paperwork, if requested.
Forget to do one thing and you’ll be immediately disqualified.
When your tender is uploaded, it will have an initial review to check it’s conforming. A massive 60% of tenders fail at this stage because they haven’t covered off all the requirements for submitting their tender.
Are all the asked-for plans, policies and procedures in place – for example, Indigenous procurement, modern slavery, WHS, environment, quality management and any relevant to your particular industry?
Read more about the difference between RFPs, RFTs, EOIs.
2. Understand what the questions in government tenders actually mean
Before you write a single word, read the entire Request for Tender very carefully. The stand-out words you’re looking for are must, shall and will. Highlight any section that contains these words because it means a response is mandatory. They’re the first areas the government procurement team will check and, if a definitive answer or the required documentation isn’t there, your bid will instantly go on the reject pile without a second glance.
Look out too for any section in the RFT that contains words such as could, should, would or may. This means a section or question is not mandatory. But it’s a good idea to address these to keep you ahead of others in the race who don’t bother.
Read more about what the Australian Government is asking in its requests for tenders.
3. Don’t ignore any questions in the government request for tender
This might sound obvious, but it’s amazing how many people don’t fully answer the questions in the response schedules or ignore questions they think don’t apply to them. Those tenderers then wonder why they are never shortlisted or selected. Very simply, when writing a government tender it’s crucial to answer every question, even if you feel you are repeating content you’ve already provided.
Government tenders always include the assessment criteria and often their weighting, so you can see what you need to focus on in your response. The evaluation or assessment criteria is the framework by which procurement will assess your response.
Read the assessment or evaluation criteria and their weighting before you start writing your tender response. The weight given to different criteria will show you what is most important to the government’s procurement team. For example, if ‘value for money’ has a high weighting, you know that the tenders are going to be assessed squarely on price.
If the weightings for the assessment or evaluation criteria are not included, you’ll need to assume that all requirements are of equal value and respond accordingly. Taking this approach means you’ll not fall into the trap of investing too much time and energy in one section at the expense of another.
4. Precisely answer every question in every government tender
Companies responding to government tenders usually try to make content they already have from previous tenders or brochures fit the questions in government tenders, which makes their answers imprecise.
Cutting and pasting from other documents, including tenders and proposals, is a great time saver, but avoid doing it excessively when putting together government tenders. You’ll need to edit or rewrite content from elsewhere, or even create brand-new responses from scratch. It’s really important to tailor your content for each specific tender.
Always keep to the point. Your tender will stand out if the procurement team doesn’t have to read lots of waffle. A government representative told me that in the tenders he and his team review, 30% of the content is superfluous. So, make your answers succinct and focused.
- In order to… instead use…To
- A wide range of… instead use… Many
- We will be…instead use…We are
5. Present your company’s professionalism in your government tender responses
A great way to nail your government tender writing is to demonstrate that you are a risk-free option.
This means presenting assurance regarding the management of your business and client relationships. Government is spending tax payer money and has to be accountable. Your government tender responses must demonstrate your professionalism – that there is no risk to government in selecting your business for the contract.
You can do this by explaining the processes, procedures your company has in place to demonstrate that you are transparent and accountable. For example, do you have you a documented complaints management process? Do you have a written methodology? Do you offer guarantees?
If you have any ISO certifications, be sure to include these. Likewise, government wants to know that your business is financially viable, so expect to be asked for you last 3 years’ accounts.
6. Explain what government will gain by choosing your business
Companies tendering to government often overlook the outcomes that government actually wants. If you can identify and articulate in your tender how government will gain by choosing your company, you’ll be streets ahead.
Results and outcomes
The government procurement team must be clear about what it will get for its dollar by selecting your business. Therefore, when writing a government tender, explain the tangible outcomes, or results, that you deliver. Often the best place to do this is in your responses to questions about your team, experience and methodology.
For example, when describing your team members, explain how they have delivered success for other clients. This demonstrates that you actually deliver and can deliver for government too. Likewise, in the responses to questions about your experience, describe the successful results you have achieved for other clients.
Quantifiable results are best, not wishy-washy words about ‘innovative solutions’ or ‘excellent results’. Give statistics to illustrate how your solution saves time or money. These could be percentages or dollar values of time or money that your product or service saves for clients. Include brief client testimonials, too, and short, punchy examples of how your company makes a difference to its clients. Mini case studies are a great way to make an impact, word count limits permitting.
As well as tangible results, explain the benefits that your product, service or company brings. These may not always be quantifiable in terms of data but they do need to be explained clearly.
For example, perhaps your company has ISO 9001: 2015 Quality Management. When explaining that you regard the customer experience as being paramount, you can reference your external auditing for ISO certification as evidence for your high standards of service delivery.
Getting to benefits should be easy. Think about the features your business offers. Then imagine that you are your own customer ask: ‘What does this mean for me?’ Don’t think a feature is a benefit, though. Each feature will have a corresponding benefit.
7. Make time to check your government tenders carefully well before the deadline
After writing a government tender, make time for a solid edit and proofread of the draft document especially if different people have written different parts. It’s easy for different writing styles to disrupt the style and voice of the tender response. It’s best to ask someone who’s not been involved in the tender to read it through for you.
Also, factor in time to make sure you have complied with everything.
And get your tender in on time!
Help with writing government tenders
Over the past two decades, our government tender writers have managed and written literally hundreds and hundreds of successful tenders, helping companies to win millions of dollars in new business.
Tender Writers helps SMEs and large businesses with more than 70 tenders each year. With the support we provide, our clients go on to win more than 80% of the tenders we write for them, resulting in many millions of dollars in government contracts.
Read more advice on how to win government tenders.
Contact us about government tender writing today
Whether you’re writing a government tender for the first time, or if this is your hundredth time, partnering with the professional tender writers at Tender Writers can help you increase your opportunity for success. Get in touch or ring us on 02 8036 5532 or 0448 566 377 to learn what we can do for your business.