What does the tenderer really want?

When you get a RFT that is hundreds of pages thick you might think that the tender requirements would be spelt out very clearly. However, even after you have read the RFT thoroughly, you might not really understand the client’s need.

Unfortunately, a request for tender is quite often more of a blueprint put together by technical people than a strategic document put together by the client’s management. This means that without doing your research you can run the risk of focussing on delivering a technical solution without properly understanding the client’s strategic and operational needs and wants.

How to work out the tender requirements

So how do you work out what the tenderer wants—what the tender requirements really are? After reading the document it is important to investigate the client and find out everything you can about their procurement processes, management structure and recent corporate history. Do your research:

  • Get as much information from the RFT contact as you can about the RFT requirement while maintaining a professional relationship
  • Read their website and recent annual reports and understand their corporate objectives, strategy and key operations
  • Search the Internet and find out as much about the client’s corporate and procurement history as you can (check the Australia Stock Exchange, ASX site if they are publicly listed)
  • Talk to your contacts who have worked with them or for them and find out what they might be looking for and who might be making the decisions

The tender questions you should you be asking

Some of the questions you should be thinking about will give you an idea of :

  • Why are they seeking the product or service (is it a key product or service, is it part of an expansion or part of their core business)?
  • Have they tendered for similar work before and were they satisfied with the results (look for any procurement errors in the past that they don’t want to repeat)?
  • Has the organisation changed recently (have they new managers, are they expanding, have they been taken over, etc)?
  • What key values are most important to them (sustainability, social responsibility, employee satisfaction)?
  • What are the risks that they are most concerned about (safety, reputation, cost)?

You might not get all the answers you need but you will build a picture of the tender requirement and their organisation. Whatever information you can glean will help you to refine how best you can put together your solution.