Why is government tender writing difficult? Seven ways to overcome the challenges

Of all the types of tenders out there, perhaps the one with the power to add additional stress to an already stressful process is a government tender. Why? Because government tenders frequently involve an almost mind-numbing amount of paperwork to read and complete. And that’s on top of the requirement to create a compelling response that positions you as the ideal candidate. Read on to find out how you can overcome some of these government tender writing challenges.

For the sake of this exercise, let’s assume that you’ve identified a government tender that looks like a good fit for your business. Let’s also assume that you’ve carefully reviewed the Request for Proposal (RFP) or the Request for Tender (RFT) and have a very good grasp of what the government agency is asking for. Do you have a clear understanding of the contract scope? Are you able to comply with all the various requirements? And does your business have the resources to meet the tender deadline?

(These assumptions are pretty important, by the way. Because honestly? If you’re not confident that your business really fits the bill or that your team will be overstretched to meet the cut-off date, then this may not be the tender for you.)

OK, let’s crack on!

1. Comply with everything

When responding to a government request for tender you must follow every – that’s every – instruction in the RFT. Some 60% of tender submissions end up on the government equivalent of the cutting room floor because they didn’t comply.

Government tenders always include masses of compliance such as policies (think Modern Slavery, Environment), insurance (think Public Liability, Workers’ Comp) and plans (think Reconciliation, Business Continuity) to name but a few. A government tender may also require you to sign various sections of the RFT.

So, always do exactly as you’re asked.

2. Every question requires a proper answer

Incredible but true, many tenderers either skip over questions they don’t fully understand or simply write ‘N/A’. But each government tender question requires a proper response. For example, instead of ‘N/A’, make your answer crystal clear by responding, ‘Not applicable as Crazy Paving Pty Ltd employs fewer than 15 employees and is therefore exempt from …..’

Another top tip: be prepared to repeat yourself. Your answer for one question may be almost a repeat of an answer to a previous question. Those new to government tender writing may find this frustrating, but seasoned performers know that you must never respond by simply saying, ‘See question 7.’ Answer in full, taking care to tailor it to the current question, as though you’ve not given this information before.

3. Understand what an answer is worth

One of the good things about a government tender – yes, they exist – is that it will always include the assessment criteria, frequently with a weighting attached. This is great because it gives you a very good steer on where you should be focusing your response efforts and what the government’s procurement team is looking for.

But what if there are no weightings? Good question. The simple answer is, assume that every response is equally important and formulate your answers accordingly.

4. Easy on the cut and paste

Remember that childhood game of ‘whispers’? By the time the original message is relayed by the kid at the end, it’s nothing like what the first child said. Well, the same goes for tender content. Re-use it over and again for different tenders and all that re-jigging can make it become imprecise. What’s more, it may well contain the previous tenderer’s name. Unforgivable! It’s vitally important that your response does not have the look of a hurried cut and paste.

5. Cut to the chase

We’ve heard from more than one government insider that procurement teams are usually under the pump, with little time for ‘salesy’ waffle or content that simply isn’t relevant to the question. Their estimate was that a shocking 30% of what they read is superfluous. So, make sure you answer each question fully, but be mindful to keep your answers succinct and focused.

6. Outline your company’s professionalism

A persuasive tender response will demonstrate just how your business is a risk-free option. To do this, you can explain the processes and procedures that you operate that show you’re both transparent and accountable. For instance, it may be a documented complaints process or a written methodology for quality control. Don’t forget to list any ISO or other certifications for extra gravitas.

7. How will the government gain?

A well-written government tender response will leave the procurement team in no doubt regarding what they’ll get for their money, so make sure to be clear about the results you can deliver. One way you can do this is when describing your team, experience and methodology.

For example, it’s a great idea to note how team members have been able to assist other clients or outline the impressive results you’ve achieved for other customers.

Of course, make sure that your government tender response is clear about the benefits of working with your business. If the tender relates to a high-risk undertaking, make sure to note how your accreditation in ISO 45001 means your WHS policies and procedures equate to this internationally recognised highest safety standard.

8. Ask for government tender writing help

If you’re new to government tender writing, why not ask the team at Tender Writers to manage your tender response for you? Get in touch today or give us a call on 02 8036 5532 or 0448 566 377 to find out how we can give you the best chance of winning the contract.

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