Meeting the Tender Process Timeline

Sep 21, 2021General

The tender process timeline is a tight one, with bidders usually getting just four weeks from the date documents are published until the tender has to be complete and submitted. We know that for many SME businesses, hitting those deadlines can seem impossible but with good planning and scheduling, and a few tips from us below, you should be able to hit the deadline like a pro!

Analyse Thoroughly

Before you can estimate how long a bid is going to take you to pull together, you need to take the time to fully understand what is required. The amount of work in a tender can vary considerably from a simple questionnaire for a framework or DPS application to a large requirement for written method statements for a call-off contract or an ITT.

Our blog on Creating a Compliance Matrix will come in handy here.

Is it Feasible?

As part of your bid/no-bid decision, you’ll need to decide whether it’s feasible to complete the tender to the required standard in time. If it isn’t, there are three choices:

  • Ask for an extension. Send a clarification question to see if there is any potential for the deadline to be extended to allow you more time.
  • Decide to no-bid this opportunity based on lack of resources.
  • Call in outside help. If you’re thinking of using a bid consultancy or freelancer, reach out as soon as possible in the process to maximise your chances of success.

Call in Internal Help

Are there other staff who can support you to create the bid? If there are, then pull everyone together for a bid kick-off meeting. This will give you the opportunity to talk through how you want to approach the different questions and ask for help where you need it. Make sure that you set clear deadlines and follow up on them. Putting together a Gantt chart for production of the bid can be a useful way to see the tender process timeline visually.

Ask for Information Early

If you need to reach out to Subject Matter Experts in your company, then do it early to give yourself plenty of time to chase others up. It can help to get the MD or someone higher up the pecking order to send a round-robin to all the staff you need to talk to explaining how important this opportunity is to the business and asking them to make it a priority as otherwise tendering can be pushed down priority lists in favour of more immediate tasks, impacting the tender process timeline.

Focus Your Attention

Take a good look at the marking scheme for the quality questions, particularly the weighting. If you have two questions with the same word or page count, but one is worth 20% and the other only 10%, then it makes sense to prioritise getting a good response for the question with the higher weighting. It’s not that you should neglect the other response, just that the questions with higher marks are likely to be more important to the client and so need your attention.

Check the Clarification Questions

Make sure that you stay up to date with the latest criteria for the bid by checking for clarification responses, answers from the client to questions raised by you or other potential bidders. These may change your approach, so don’t start writing until you are sure you are up to date.

Write First, Edit Later

You won’t get any marks for a blank page, so pull together as much of the response to a question as you can. Don’t wait for all the information to come in before starting to write – for example, if you’re not sure what safety certification you have, you can still write the rest of the response but leave a space for the name of the standard.

Know When to Ask for Help

Whether you need to call in help from inside the company, or reach out to a tender consultancy like us, try and be realistic, not optimistic. Bids take time, and great bids take even longer.

If you would like to call in reinforcements, we’d love to help. We work flexibly with organisations to give as much or as little support as is needed to help you get that bid over the line. If you’d like some help, please get in touch today.

Adrian Corcoran

Adrian Corcoran is Managing Director and Founder of Bid for Success. Passionate about working with great businesses to win them new work, she and the Bid for Success team are here to help you with your bidding and work winning needs.

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