5 Mistakes to Avoid When Tendering

Assuming the tendering authority knows all about you 

You know how it is – you’ve put in a lot of tenders before, and think your company is established and quite well known, so don’t feel the need to answer questions fully. Wrong. Each tender is treated as a separate entity. Nothing is ‘carried forward’ from previous ones, so it pays to answer the questions in full. Just pretend this is the first tender you’ve done and are keen to impress!

Submitting a ‘qualified’ tender

This is where you’ve put in a priced tender but then included any number of ‘ifs’, ‘buts’, ‘alternative scenarios’ and ‘alternative prices’. Big mistake. Most tender instructions, if you know where to look, will say you could be disqualified for this. They want you to submit a bid for X, and expect to get replies back from various bidders all based on the specification for X, and nothing else. If you try and suggest alternative proposals (where not asked for) this could be seen as an attempt to put your tender on an unequal footing to others – as if you are trying to gain some sort of advantage. The tendering authority need to evaluate like for like, so it pays to stick to the rules and not go off at a tangent.

Not reading the ‘Pass/Fail’ requirements properly

These are the ‘hurdle’ questions which you must get over before they even look at the rest of your priced bid. Pass/Fail or ‘Critical’ questions should be highlighted in the evaluation criteria within the tender instructions. If you don’t read them properly nor answer them fully, just think of all that time spent on the rest of the tender – which unfortunately would turn out to be wasted time because you would be failed at the outset. Oops!

Not answering the question

Or, answering a different question to the one set! Think of it like a school exam where you’re asked to ‘examine’, ‘argue’, ‘discuss’, ‘criticise’, ‘describe’, analyse’, ‘illustrate’ and so on. Watch out for key action words that say what’s expected of you. A common mistake could be to answer the question “How would you ensure the quality of workmanship?” with an essay on the merits of a typical quality management system, but ignore the key words ‘How’ and ‘ensure’!

Not attaching what’s asked of you

But, strangely enough you do attach things not asked for! Requested attachments should be treated like a ‘shopping list’ and ticked off as you go along. What can sometimes happen is you get caught up in trying to impress and attach documents on every man and his dog. It’s then easy to lose sight of the really crucial documents – the only documents – that the tendering authority needs. Forget irrelevant documents. In fact, it could well annoy them and you could be marked down for it! The worst mistake? Not actually attaching the completed core tender document. Yes, as strange as that might seem, it does happen.

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