Tendering process – the basics explained
In this back to procurement basics blog we look at what the tendering process is.
What is a tender?
Let’s start first with what is a tender. A tender is your bid – when you write a response to an open opportunity, you are tendering for that opportunity. Winning tenders is a skill and can be especially difficult for SMEs who don’t necessarily have a team of bid-writers.
In our case, we specialise in public sector. As you can expect tendering for government business can also be highly competitive, with many suppliers offering similar skill-sets, goods and services.
What is the tendering process?
The tendering process varies depending on the requirements of the buying organisation and depending on if you’re bidding via a framework (such as Digital Outcomes and Specialists).
No matter the circumstances, you will be asked to respond to a set of questions. If you have already been shortlisted (for instance, you’ve received an inbound lead from G-Cloud – rare, but it does happen!) then you will likely receive several clarification questions to help the buyer inform their procurement. If you are responding at the initial evaluation stage – via DOS, or another portal – you will need to provide evidence that you meet certain criteria.
This could come in different forms, and the requirements evolve the further along the tendering process you get. You could be writing up to 100-word answers for different criteria, or submitting a formal proposal, or supplying case studies. You could be asked to deliver a presentation on-site. The information you provide to the buyer will be evaluated against their pre-set criteria.
It is worth noting that there are rules, standards and ‘good practices’ in procurement. Before buying organisations publish an invitation to tender (ITT), they need to have an idea of the problem that needs to be solved, the work that needs to be done, and the skills and experience of the supplier they need. This needs to be clearly specified and later used to evaluate tenders against. A buyer cannot, for example, judge a bid based on some new criteria thought of later down the line. The Public Contracts Regulations 2015 sets out several rules for different approaches that the public sector can take, including how to use the “Most Economically Advantageous Tenderer” (MEAT) way of evaluation; how to take into account the “best price-quality ratio” (BPQR), and taking a cost effectiveness approach such as life cycle costing (LCC).