When No is the Right Bid Decision

Jan 28, 2021Bid Management, Bid Training, SME Champions, Tender Process, Tender Writing

The bid/no bid decision is the most crucial choice you can make in when it comes to responding to tenders. Whether you bid in-house or hire a consultancy such as ours there is a cost associated with bidding; these things take time, effort, and commitment from multiple people within your company. You need to be sure that this is the right opportunity before you commit to responding to a tender. So, when is the right time to say, ‘No,’ to a tender opportunity?

You’re not ready to bid

If you really want to set yourself up to have a good chance of winning bids, then you need to make sure that you have everything in place to support your tender submission. Things that you commonly need to have in place are:

  • Turnover – this is often required to be twice the contract value
  • Insurance – public liability, employer’s liability, and professional indemnity are often needed
  • Qualifications and Certifications – professional memberships and required standards for your industry
  • Experience – You’ll often be asked to supply references as part of the tendering process, and they will need to be relevant to that particular opportunity
  • Processes and Policies – Quality questions often revolve around things like mobilisation, health & safety, your programme or specifics on how you will deliver the service.
  • Social Value – Increasingly tenders incorporate some social value aspect, where you will be asked to put together a program of initiatives that bring value to the local community. For more information about social value, you can download our free guide Win More Bids – Do More Good.

If you’re not sure if you are ready to bid or not then you could sign up for the next presentation of our free course, Get Bid Ready in Five Days, or go through our Deep Dive process to make sure you’d bid ready and have your win themes and other differentiators ready to go.

You wouldn’t be able to deliver

This one might sound obvious, but if you’re not in a position to actually deliver the tender, then don’t bid for it. Bidding isn’t a process you can blag your way through and worry about the detail later, if you don’t have a firm plan for how you can deliver that product or service and evidence to support that, don’t waste your time and money bidding because there will be other companies who have all their ducks in a row.

The project doesn’t further your plans

When you’re growing your business, and particularly in a difficult climate such as we are facing now, it can be tempting to go after any opportunity to earn money: but we’d advise caution. Finances alone don’t make a good bid decision. It’s important to think about where this opportunity fits in your wider business plans, which of your people will be committed to fulfilling it, and whether it adds anything to your portfolio.

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, it’s something that you will have to look at on a bid-by-bid basis. You don’t want to end up with a good percentage of your team tied up on a project for the next three to five years if that isn’t taking you to your ultimate goal. It’s the difference between working to live and living to work.

The tender documents seem biased

While it shouldn’t happen in public sector contracts, the influence of other companies on the bidding process can still sometimes be felt. For example, if an incumbent is delivering a service that the organisation is happy with, the tender will be written with that company’s ways of working in mind. If the specification on a tender is very prescriptive, that can be a clue that it’s been written with a company in mind.

Of course, Public Procurement legislation is there to make sure that contracts are given fairly, so if you see something like this it can be worth asking a clarification question to determine if you can offer up alternative ways of providing the product or service that better suits your business. There’s also the option of appealing any tender decision. You may also just choose to pass up tenders that just don’t feel right to avoid wasting your time.

The chance of getting work is slim

This one really relates to Framework and Dynamic Purchasing System opportunities, where you are submitting a Selection Questionnaire (SQ) or Pre-qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) without any guarantee of getting work. Frameworks and DPSs are effectively a shortlist to being a supplier for that organisation; you may get given work by direct award, you may have to compete in a mini-competition, or you may get nothing at all.

If the tender documents don’t include any indication of the volume of work expected to come through the framework or DPS then you can ask a clarification question to get a rough idea. This will help you make an informed bid decision about committing your time and resources to the process.

Supporting your bid decision

If your opportunity makes it through all these hurdles, then you evaluate it further using a bid no bid decision matrix – you can download our free Bid No Bid decision template.

At Bid for Success, we work with our clients to make better bid decisions. We evaluate every opportunity and give them our honest opinion on whether we think they should put their energy and resources into trying to secure this business. If you need help making a critical bid decision, 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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