Six key things to win a Government tender

Competing for a public procurement contract is a demanding process. Government tender responses require a lot of information. Your organisation needs to be prepared to dedicate staff and resources to putting together a tender response that can win against your competitors. We have put together this short guide to help you understand how to win a government tender by writing the best tender response documents.

We have broken down the essential elements of how to win a government tender into six components; the first five are about getting into the race and the last is about winning it. To be able to win the work your tender response must be: compliant; comparable; comprehensive; competitive; convincing; and extraordinary.

COMPLIANT—compliant with the tender’s requirements

A tender is essentially a request for an organisation to provide evidence of how well they will meet the needs of the client. The government agency will evaluate submissions against the rules, procedures and criteria outlined in their request document. Due to government procurement rules they will follow these procedures rigidly and without favour. To be in the running your tender must meet all the requirements of the tender.

Where you don’t meet the criteria of the tender you may have the scope to be able to submit a non-complying tender if the process allows it. However, this must be agreed and negotiated with the agency before submission.

COMPARABLE—comparable in presentation

Thousands of hours of time may go into preparing a response and it is important that it shows. There are those in the process who think that if all the information is included the document will speak for itself. Experience shows that if your documentation is presented badly it is perceived as lacking in care and is judged harshly.

You must present your documentation at least as professionally as your competitors. This means ensuring the document is well-designed and creates a professional image for your organisation. It is also very important to make sure that the document is properly edited and comprehensively proofed. Timings and costs must be checked as these can be the deal breakers. Some important considerations that are sometimes overlooked:

  • Editing to ensure there is consistent style, a well-understood structure, and that the most important selling points are made clear;
  • Consistent design including fonts, page layout, covers, inserts—make sure diagrams, images, CVs, case studies, support documents match in style.
  • Structure and order—make sure the numbering of pages, figures and images, support documents and appendices are correct and that there is a good table of contents.
  • Proofreading and checking—time is always short in preparing a tender and deadlines are met with little time to spare but it is essential to make sure all the numbers are properly checked and the text independently proof-read.
  • Quality printing and binding—professional digital printing on high-quality paper presented in custom-made binding shows your organisation’s pride and professionalism.

COMPREHENSIVE—comprehensive in addressing all the tender’s requirements

Small mistakes or omissions may disqualify you from the tender process. It is better to make sure that if you find the requirements ambiguous you provide enough information for the assessors to find what they need. Don’t allow your tender to be disqualified because it did not provide enough information.

Many requests for tender restrict the number of words or pages that can be used in responding. This is understandable but don’t allow a space restriction to prevent you from properly presenting your case. Where the space is inadequate additional information can be provided as addendums, appendices or attachments. These are increasingly provided in multi-media formats.  Being brief is definitely not how to win a government tender.

The tender assessors are primarily concerned with getting value for money from the provider of the service. Make sure that you provide as much information about your service provision that will help the assessment. Some of the key areas

  • The relative risk of the proposal and how it will be managed and minimised, including the flexibility of the proposal and your organisation to adapt to possible change;
  • The performance history of your organisation in delivering the service or similar services (to time, cost and quality). Show that you can mobilise the resources to do the work in a cost-effective way for the client, to meet deadlines and to respond to changing situations;
  • All direct and indirect financial costs and benefits over the life of the procurement (including maintenance and disposal costs); and
  • Your organisation’s performance in environmental, social and economic management.

COMPETITIVE—competitive in terms of value-for-money

Governments are now recognising that value-for-money (VfM) and not price is the most important aspect of assessing service or product delivery. Many organisations try to compete on price alone, which is a dangerous strategy if your competitors can undercut your price or if they can offer additional services for the same price.

Being competitive now means an emphasis on value-for-money. This is where tender can be won against your competitors. Your organisation’s bid should emphasise business benefits to the client such as: service improvements, risk reduction, energy savings and reduced greenhouse gas production, lowered maintenance costs, higher quality or reliability, or reduced whole of lifetime costs etc.

CONVINCING—convincing in making the decision easy for the panel

Selling to government is not difficult if you understand what the client wants and needs. To create a convincing argument for the assessment panel you must understand what they want, what they need and how they operate. Then you can explain clearly how your organisation will provide the wants and needs of the client.

Make sure you have developed a logical argument. The argument for the client to chose your organisation must include:

WHY—demonstrate understanding of the client organisations goals and objectives for undertaking the work;

WHAT—demonstrate detailed understanding of the client’s requirements;

WHEN—ability to meet the deadlines and timelines and to deal with contingencies;

HOW—ability to undertake the work based on capacity, resources, skills, experience and past performance and can manage financial, commercial and legal risk; and

WHERE—ability to deliver services or products to required locations

EXTRAORDINARY—extraordinary in making your bid stand out

Now that you are a fully complying bid how will you win against all the other fully complying bids? This is the most difficult question in every tender bid. Presenting bids that are differentiated from the competitors is about marketing and salesmanship. This is not about providing a neat description, with lots of clever diagrams and a colourful cover—all your competitors will be doing the same. Differentiation needs two essential components:

  • PROVIDING the most innovative and value-for-money product or service; and
  • CONVINCING the assessors that your solution is the most innovative and value-for-money product or service.

Marketing here is about fully understanding your client’s needs and tailoring your product to this need. This is marketing in its truest sense and must not be confused with the sense of promotions and advertising.

Convincing the assessors that your solution is the most desirable requires your bid to contain something of a “wow” factor. This is where the bid presentation needs to be creative and dynamic. Determining the wow factor also requires a good understanding of the client organisation’s needs and wants.

Extra-ordinary performance in the tender process requires that you have a superior understanding of your clients needs. You need to understand and interpret the client’s needs beyond the documentation and present your work to emphasise the superior way in which you meet their needs.

We hope these six key things on how to win a government tender are useful. Contact us if you need more information.