Tender writing – what to avoid 

When writing a tender to any level of Australian government – local, state or federal – you need to be 100 per cent sure your response is 100 per cent compliant if you want to even get a look in. John Sheridan is an Australian Government ICT senior executive who recently gave a presentation covering the most common mistakes suppliers make when tendering to government. Here are his top tips for avoiding pitfalls.


Don’t assume… 

…that the tender evaluation team have the first clue about your organisation and its capabilities. Incumbent suppliers in particular should take care to avoid this common mistake. Tender teams are duty bound only to evaluate a company’s bid by the strength of its written responses and nothing else. Attempting to skimp on answers based on the assumption that the tender assessors know who you are and what you’ve done in the past will do you no favours.  

Avoid broad statements 

Too often, tender content reads more like advertising blurb than a serious attempt to win a contract. Claims of being ‘the best in the business’ or offering ‘a unique approach’ mean nothing unless they can be qualified with some cold hard facts and figures to back them up. Failing to adequately quantify or qualify responses is another trap for unwary players, says Sheridan. He cites, for example: 

  • Up to 24 hours – In reality, this could mean only five minutes. So, which is it really? 
  • We will save you 50% – Of what? When? And how? 
  • We are the only company who… – Based on what evidence? 

Cut and paste problems 

In principle, there’s nothing wrong with cutting and pasting information from other tenders. However, it shows a distinct lack of care if that information hasn’t been carefully reviewed and tweaked accordingly. All too often references to other tenders remain or sentences simply don’t make sense – a clear sign that a hasty cut and paste job has been deemed sufficient effort.  

Best offer first time 

It’s true that there’s more to writing a winning a tender than simply putting forward a set of sharp figures, but it’s folly to assume that you’ll be given a second opportunity to provide your best pricing. Sheridan’s advice is to always submit your best offer the first time round. 

Make use of resources 

The tender team is on hand for clarification of anything that’s not immediately clear to you. Some businesses are loathe to make contact, fearing their questions may be taken as proof of their inappropriateness for the contract. Not so! If you’re not sure about anything at all to do with your tender response, then your best bet is always to ask – or you run the risk of being non-compliant.  

If you would like help writing, editing or proofreading your Tenders, proposals or business documents, head to the contact  page or call Rosemary Gillespie direct on 02 8036 5532 or 0411 123 216.


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