What are returnable schedules?

Tenders contain a common set of documents. When you download or are sent the tender  you can expect a set of documents that cover off all (or nearly all) of what you need to know. The main one is the returnable schedules. Here is a summary.

Specification or scope of works

Only the smallest tenders will come without a comprehensive specification of the goods or services being procured. The specification may be called lots of things including, specification, scope of works, program framework, etc. It depends on the industry.

These documents need to be read and understood by the subject matter experts. They need to review the scope and work out if the tender is achievable. They will also be required to provide the basis of the response.

Draft contract

Most tenders will have a draft contract to review. Government contracts are often standardised and very straightforward. However, for large contracts the contract should be reviewed by someone knowledgable in contracts or by a lawyer with expertise in commercial and contract law.

Sometimes you may be asked to sign the draft contract during the tender process, however, it is unusual.

Returnable schedules

The returnable schedules form the framework and basis of your tender response. The returnable schedules will usually include:


The tender form contains formal business details and formal acceptance of the terms of the tender by an authorised signatory.


This is an agreement (or declaration) to deliver the tender to the specifications and to the commercial conditions.


This is how much your solution will cost. This can be in different forms but often it is asked to be provided separately in a spreadsheet.


This is usually seen in larger government contracts when they ask for information on how you can provide additional value. Value-for-money is a government requirement.


The tender can often ask who is going to be working on the contract of project. This is usually where we include CVs and an organisation chart.


The experience returnable schedule can also take different forms. Most commonly we answer this with project case studies to show detail about your previous successes.


The methodology is usually the most difficult part of a tender. It requires your subject matter experts to provide a clear narrative on how you will do the work. Madrigal puts the most emphasis in our tender writing on this returnable schedule by making it comprehensive and clear.


You need to provide strong evidence of your safety record and processes. SWMS may be asked for here for smaller projects.


You need to provide strong evidence of your quality processes. This is, how you guarantee that your work will comply with the specifications or scope of work.


You also need to provide strong evidence of your environmental record and processes. Often it asks if you have been fined.


Evidence of your insurance coverage is perhaps the most straightforward of the returnable schedules. It provides the client with evidence of how you have reduced risk. These usually include workers compensation, public liability, professional liability, industry specific insurance and now very commonly cybersecurity insurance.


You need to provide strong evidence of your industrial relations record and processes on large contracts.


Risk management is a really important aspect of tendering. Madrigal advises our clients to include a risk management even if it is not asked for. A risk assessment is an opportunity to show an in-depth understanding of the business and delivery risks in the tender.


Many government tenders are asking for tenderers to show additional benefits that might include Indigenous employment, use of local businesses, and benefits to the economy.


Tendering businesses are asked to conform with government policies around employment and modern slavery, for instance.


Many tenders ask for information on how you are going to provide innovative solutions. This can often overlap with the methodology and value-for-money returnable schedules.


There can be other returnable schedules asking for tender-specific information for example plant and equipment lists.

Tenders vary in their emphasis and in the depth of information they ask for. Madrigal’s philosophy is to provide a comprehensive answer to all returnable schedules to make sure you are marked well by the assessors.