In your tender—do you prove what you say?

What is the importance of proof?

Providing evidence that what you are say is true is the most important thing in a convincing tender response. Preparing a proposal or tender response is like presenting evidence in court—whenever you claim something to be true you have to be providing proof that it is true. This means that when you say you have experience, expertise or knowledge you need to show that you do. We call this “substantiating your claim”, which means whatever you say needs to be backed up with evidence. Only when you have proved your case, that is, met all the requirements of the tender, can you create a winning proposal.

1. Our macro-micro approach to providing proof

We use a “macro-micro” approach to present information in proposals. We split the information into:

  • macro-level (high level) capability and experience statements which address the wants and needs of the client and
  • micro-level information that supports our statements.

The macro-level content is the overview and uses the allocated space in the document to provide well-written, high-level information on your capability and experience.

The micro-level part (the detailed supporting information) is the proof or substantiation (we are providing proof) and needs to be directly linked to the statements. The micro-level material needs to be comprehensive and relevant. Where there is a page or word limit the evidence is presented in summary and the supporting documents presented in appendices.

2. Answering the “mandatories”

When a proposal is assessed by the client they want to know how well you will deliver their project. You cannot just say you can do it but you have to prove that you can. For every mandatory and desirable criteria you must provide strong evidence of your capability of experience. You should use case studies and project CVs to support this by cross-referencing.

3. Using case studies properly

Including case studies is an important part of showing that your organisation can do what it says it can do. In our post How to write great case studies for your proposals and tenders we describe the type of content that you should be including.

Remember that case studies are included to support your capability and experience statements so try to refer to them where they are relevant. What I mean is, you make sure that the case studies are used as proof to support your claims not just to fill space in the document or because they were requested. You should also edit the case studies to highlight your ability to deliver specific aspects of the request for tender.

4. Focussing your project CVs on providing proof

The capability of an organisation to deliver a project is based very much on the capability of its key staff. Putting the right people into a proposal is often the difference between success and failure from the client’s perspective. Project CVs need to match the key requirements of the proposal. CVs need to be carefully edited to reflect the particular skill sets needed for the project proposal. (Note that project CVs are very different to the CVs you would give a potential employer—they are entirely focussed on the skills and expertise needed for the particular project).

5. Including your methodology (or Your approach)

Your ability to show that you can do the job is at the core of the proposal. The methodology  section (sometimes called Your approach) requires you to comprehensively explain how you will deliver the service or project. Unless your methodology is proprietary and requires intellectual property protection you should include it in detail. It is a mistake to hold back information because you want to protect your methods from the market. Although there is a risk attached you are protected legally. Again, make sure you cross reference to your case studies.

6. Providing proof—financial and risk documentation

Most requests for tender require financial and insurance information. Make sure these are in order as soon as possible in the preparation process.

Financial information  often requires the profit and loss and balance sheets from the last three years. They are critical to success in the project.  Remember that the assessors are looking at your capability, that is your stability and financial capacity to do their job—they are not judging your profitability.

Providing proof that you have adequate insurance coverage is nearly always mandatory and if you fail to show you are adequately covered you will not be considered.

Getting you to the next step

Providing comprehensive evidence that proves that you can do all all the requirements of the request for tender should get you shortlisted.