Tendering: The Basics you Need to Know

  • Posted in Tender Tips under
  • About Tenders
  • Respond to a Tender
  • Tender Preparation
  • Tender Writing

What is Tendering?

In simple terms, a tender is a job application, except that it’s businesses that are applying, rather than individuals.

Purchasers (state and federal government departments, local councils, or even some companies) will issue a request for tender, or RFT, when they’re looking for suppliers of a product or service that they need.

Purchasers will do this for two primary reasons:

  1. It saves them time spent having to track down suppliers, as interested businesses apply directly to them instead.
  2. It allows them to get value for money as they can compare costs and benefits from a range of suppliers.

You may sometimes see the terms RFP (request for proposal) or RFQ (request for quote) used instead of RFT, but these basically mean the same thing.

RFTs will often be made publicly available to anyone that wants to respond, but sometimes will just be issued to selected businesses.

What are Tender Documents?

When a purchaser is looking to receive tender applications, they will issue a set of tender documents. These vary widely depending on the purchaser, but generally they’ll include:

  • Details of what they’re looking to buy (often called a scope of works or statement of requirements)
  • Evaluation criteria which they will use to assess the responses they receive
  • A set of questions to respond to
  • A draft of the contract that the winning tenderer will need to sign
  • A description of how they’ll run the process and things businesses need to comply with to have their submission accepted.

The documents will be released alongside a tender notice. Once upon a time, these were published in newspapers with instructions on where to collect the documents, but nowadays they are almost always published online. Bidsmith offers free access to a wide range of open opportunities here.

What is an EOI?

Sometimes, purchasers will look to cut down on the number of businesses they receive tenders from by using a two-stage process. First, they publish an EOI (expression of interest) for interested businesses to respond to. An EOI will usually be simpler (e.g. they may not ask businesses to say what price they will charge), but with enough detail so the purchaser can decide on a shortlist of businesses who are best placed to supply their requirements.

Once the EOI stage has been completed, the purchaser will then release the final RFT documents to the shortlist of suppliers.

How do I Respond to a Tender?

The best place to begin is in the tender documents. These should tell you what information you need to include in your tender response, and the format that it needs to be in – for example, many local councils issue response forms that you must use, while other purchasers allow a lot more freedom.

The documents will also tell you other important information, such as:

  • When the due date is
  • How to lodge (e.g. by post, by email, by hand, or through an online portal)
  • Who to contact with any questions

Once you understand what the purchaser is looking for, you can then begin to put your application together. Responding to tenders may seem overwhelming at first, but once you get started you may well be surprised how many questions you can address – it’s just a matter of getting the words out of your head and onto paper.

How do I Win Tenders?

Winning is all about putting your business in the best light possible. It’s important to read the tender documents carefully so you know exactly what the purchaser is looking for from your tender submission.

This is where Bidsmith can help give you the advantage over your competitors. We are tender preparation specialists with years of experience in the tender writing industry. Our expert tender consultants help you all the way through the tender process, so that nothing is overlooked. We work with you to develop a strategy which maximises your chances of a successful result.

For more details on how we can assist you, contact us here.