Let’s face it. Writing tenders and proposals is not most people’s first choice for business development. 

But imagine if you were able to write tenders and proposals more easily, with less stress, less time and more wins.

Sounds impossible? It’s not.

There’s one simple rule to remember when it comes to writing tenders.

Let us explain.

It may surprise you to know that of all tenders submitted to government, more than 60% don’t make it past the first assessment. That’s right: a whopping 60%.

The problem? These tenders fail to pass the compliance checks made by the procurement team.

Very simply, most tenders, including tenders to government don’t cover off all the compliance requirements asked for by the Request for Tender or Proposal or the EOI.

Compliant tender responses are more successful

Compliance requirements can be as simple as attaching your insurance certificates. Or they can be more complex: Transition In or Out plans, Indigenous Procurement Policy, or Modern Slavery Statement, just for example.

Fail to include these in your tender and you’ll fall at the first hurdle. Your tender won’t comply and hence, the procurement team will knock back the tender you’ve probably sweated over.

More than this, though, be sure that you’ve ticked all the boxes and answered all the questions relating to compliance.

For example, you might be asked if you have ISO 9001: Quality. You may simply have to tick a yes/no box in response. If your response is ‘no’, then you’ll be asked to explain how you manage quality and attach your quality policy. If you don’t attach your policy, the procurement team can instantly knock back your tender. It’s that easy.

Just as importantly, there may be word count limits for some or all of the questions. There can even be a requirement for a certain font and size.

Watch out for the following when writing tender responses

Don’t confuse ‘mandatory’ with ‘nice to have’. If the RFT or RFP says something is mandatory, it means you must include it. Don’t and your tender won’t get past the procurement team assessing the tender responses.

If a question doesn’t apply to you, avoid using ‘N/A’. Instead, state: ‘This question doesn’t apply to my business because…’. By doing this, you’re conforming to the requirement to provide an answer. It also gives confidence to the tender assessment team that you have carefully considered each question.

Note sections using the words ‘will’, ‘shall’ and ‘must’. You’ll need to fully respond to anything that uses these words. They are just like ‘mandatory’.

But, if it doesn’t apply to you, provide a ‘This does not apply because…’ response to be compliant.

Tender response sections or questions that use the words ‘should’, ‘could’ or ‘may’ give you the opportunity to provide information to support your tender response.

Here’s our Tender Writers’ advice

The procurement team assessing your tender wants to be confident that you pose no risk. They don’t want to take a chance when bringing on a new supplier. You need to demonstrate that you’re a safe pair of hands. Thus, you need to address all the tender compliance requirements very carefully.

Attention to detail is the name of the game, here

Compliance requirements can be spread throughout the request for tender documentation, not just located in one part of the request for tender. Therefore, it’s easy to miss something important that you need to do. 

Print all the RFT, RFP or EOI documents. Check all the details. Highlight which forms and questions are mandatory to ensure you don’t miss a thing.

Check them again. Be absolutely sure that you know exactly what you need to include with your tender submission.

In our experience, it’s very helpful to have all the typical compliance documents ready in advance. No matter how often you are preparing tender submissions, you’ll need:

  • Quality policy
  • WHS policy
  • Risk management policy
  • Quality assurance plan
  • Environment/sustainability policy

And you’ll sometimes need, among other documents:

  • Modern slavery statement
  • Indigenous Procurement statement
  • Benefit to the local economy statement
  • Customer service policy

A simple solution is to create a tender content library on your company system. Keep all the documents you need to use over and over in tender responses in this one place. It will save you time and effort.