The Typical Tendering Process

If you’re a beginner in tendering to the public sector, it’s easy to be put off by thoughts of complexity and red tape.

In fact, the overall process is quite straightforward. Here are the stages in the life of a tender:-

Expressing An Interest Once you’ve spotted a likely opportunity, you will have to throw your hat in the ring. This is called Expressing An Interest. The instructions as to how to do that are in the ITT itself.

Pre-Qualification The procurement people want to limit the number of tenders they will receive, simply to make the process manageable. It’s a bit like the CV sift when you are looking for an employee; you don’t interview everyone who applies, do you?

This initial stage for sifting potential suppliers is called Pre- Qualification. The most common method for this stage is to ask those expressing an interest to complete a Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ for short). This is effectively your application to be allowed to proceed to the full tender stage.

Once your completed PQQ has been assessed, you will be told whether you have got through to the next stage or not.

The Tender If you pass the PQQ stage, you will be told how to obtain the Tender Pack, which will contain some instructions and several other documents. One of these will be the Tender Response document, which is usually a form to fill in.

Once you have read the covering letter and the instructions, you can complete the tender documentation and submit it.

Contract Award Once the decision has been made, all tendering parties will be notified of who has won the contract. Any aggrieved parties are given opportunity to object, and if there are no objections then the winner can proceed.

Seeking Feedback This is not one of the ‘official’ stages, but if you didn’t win the tender we advise that you seek feedback as to what caused you to lose out. There is nothing wrong with doing this (as long as you don’t argue), and the procurement officers will often be very helpful. You may discover more about your strengths and weaknesses from the lost tenders than from those you win!

And even when you win, it’s still a good idea to ask what the key factors were, which won you the work. Always good to know your customer, isn’t it?