The decision on whether to bid or not to bid for a tender opportunity is always a tough one. There are many factors to consider including the cost of putting in the tender, the opportunity cost of focusing on other opportunities, and whether or not you actually have a chance or not. We’ve developed a free bid/no bid checklist to help guide this decision process.
Here are two short anecdotes that highlight lessons learned and approaches to consider:
Let’s call the client Tom. Tom had a successful construction business with a number of government contracts which he already services. A tender came out from a current government department he was servicing on two other contracts. He had a good relationship and excellent feedback from the government on his existing contracts. This opportunity was big. The contract was for over five million dollars worth of work, double the size of any other contract Tom’s company had held.
Now here is where the plot thickens. The tender documents were exhaustive. It was going to cost approximately 20,000 dollars to put the response together. He was extremely busy servicing his current contracts and the questions were heavily geared towords the existing providers of this contract and their respective key points of difference. Tom was having trouble pricing the job as he had no intel on what was required or the scope of works as the tender documents lacked detail in this regard.
Tom decided to bid for the tender. He was unsuccessful. The feedback from the debrief was that he was his price was too high, and he hadn’t clearly demonstrated his methodology and how it would deliver. Some of the supporting documentation was inadequate. On reflection, Tom realised that he was too busy to give it a good shot, and he needed assistance with the pricing. It would have been best if he didn’t go for the tender.
The long shot.
Let’s call the client Sarah. Sarah had some strong connections with the local Council although in the past she had mainly serviced the private sector. She ran a recruitment business and wasn’t particularly familiar with Government contracts or the process. Her contacts within the local Council encouraged her to go for a contract opportunity that came up.
Sarah downloaded a bid and found a host of questions on government recruitment practices, government processes and previous government experience. She didn’t have any previous government experience, and quite frankly didn’t know a lot about government recruitment processes. What she did know was that she was a local, had some good contacts within Council, and had strong experience in the private sector.
Sarah decided to have a shot. She researched processes for government recruitment and wrote a methodology based on her research that cut the mustard. Our consultants gave her some expert advice on tenders and found a lot of policies and procedures on line. They then leveraged on her quasi-government experience such as providing recruitment for a local University, as well as the fact that she was a local resident as key win themes.
Sarah was appointed to the panel.
So what are the lessons – and when do you bid for or decline government and private tender opportunities?
- Think of the full cost of tendering. The opportunity costs of everybody’s time.
- Be innovative in how you approach questions where you may not have existing capability.
- If you are going to tender, tender to win. Don’t submit a half-decent tender.
- Play to your strengths. Focus on your strengths as win themes.