Focused on winning. Since 1980

Form follows function

Good tender bid documents

What’s the function of a good finished tender bid document or contract sales proposal? First it must win the contract at a good price and on good terms. The winner takes all for better or worse.

Second it must show a clear knowledge of the technology and skills needed, and the traps that lurk to catch the unwary penny-pinching buyer. These days far too many cut-price bids with poor outcomes win public contracts.

So to get your contract bids functioning as best they possibly can, what form should they take? I see five tests for good form.

  1. The bid must follow not only every detail of the buyer’s specification. It must also perform as though the specs were written by an expert team – a rarity with your typical government Request For Tender documents. Most public contracts fail quickly due to so many ignored faults in their contract specs. So the bid must point out pitfalls overlooked in the RFT and explain how this bidder will recognise and overcome them.
  2. From cover to appendix, the bid document must be faultless as regards style, readability, completeness and clarity.  No rubbish cover, mistakes or omissions. No key strengths omitted or hidden in the fine print.
  3. The cover, covering letter and Executive Summary must sing from the same song sheet.  In a good tender bid document there will be no weak or boring mixed messages. No vague or irrelevant assertions.

  4. Competitive strategy must raise eyebrows
  5. The song sheet (derived from a brilliant competitive strategy) must raise eyebrows and draw the reader in. The document will clearly explain and illustrate the bidder’s strengths.  It will describe how to overcome all the traps that lie in wait from when this contract gets going until long after the main work is done.
  6. Each step of the bid planning and production process must be standardised to weed out mistakes, variations and hassle, excess time, labour and cost.

Bottom line: Work out the details of what you see as the function of your tender bid documents and favoured supplier proposals. No point in winning if that will bring a heap of problems. Then work out the form each and every bid will need to take to perform its function.  Expect many surprises.

(c) This Opinion by Tom Evison was first published by Tecads in February 2019

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