When you decide it’s time for your business to go up in the world by winning a government contract, it’s essential you recognise that the government tender process works as a well-oiled machine. And, like any efficient system, it operates effectively because it has very specific requirements, automatically rejecting anything that doesn’t fit the template. Understanding how the process works is essential if you want to win.
Government procurement teams have a huge amount of reference material to guide them in their selection process, but here are the top two you need to be mindful of as you begin your response.
1. Specifying requirements
Before you write a single word, it pays to read the entire Request for Tender (RFT) very carefully. The stand-out words you’re looking for are must, shall and will. Highlight any section that contains these because it means a response is mandatory. They’re the first areas the assessment 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.
A well put together RFT will address any section that contains words such as could, should, would or may. This means a section or question is not mandatory, but it’s a super good idea to address these to keep you ahead of others in the race who don’t bother.
2. Take time to understand the matrix
You really need to understand how the evaluation matrix works because it’s this framework which the procurement team will be using to assess your response. Requirements are weighted and criteria are rated on a sliding scale.
Evaluation criteria will be clearly outlined in the RFT, but weightings may or may not be included. If they’re not, 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.
Firm and fair
Many businesses resent the rigidity of the government tender process, but it actually works to your benefit. Robust and rigorous, it gives you a crystal clear set of guidelines to run on and makes the playing field as level as possible – bids from much larger companies than yours will be thrown out just as quickly if they don’t comply. Knowing from the outset what’s required, and in what format, can also alleviate the stress of wondering which is the best approach to take, and that’s no bad thing either. Wise tenderers embrace the system, using it to their advantage to tailor their submission and give themselves the best possible chance of winning.