How much time do you spend preparing and submitting tenders? The common answer: Too long.
If you've found yourself dedicating time inside AND outside of business hours to complete your company's tendering, then your answer, like many of us, is it's taking you too long. That's why we want to share with you the best four ways to reduce the tender preparation time!
For many businesses, tendering forms a core part of their business growth. They do a significant number of tender responses, so they are lucky enough to employ people to prepare and submit their tender documents. Many small businesses do not have the luxury of employing someone for their tender preparation or have the budget to pay someone to prepare and submit their tender response.
Tender preparation takes time – a lot of time!
In our experience, a typical tender response can take up to two weeks, if not more, to get the information together, get quotes from subcontractors, fill in the paperwork and prepare a tender submission.
Many small companies try and do this out of hours because – let's be honest, during business hours, you need to keep the existing business running and clients happy to maintain the cash flow!
Growth and scaling happen when we have systems and processes in place that can be rinsed, repeated, improved and scaled. Therefore, it is essential to find ways to reduce the time it takes for tender response preparation to scale and grow your business.
The best way to reduce the effort and time needed will require some upfront time and organisation but will pay dividends for your future tenders.
Reducing your tender preparation time
1. Create a tender library
By setting up a tendering system where you can easily find the information you need. When setting up tender libraries for our clients, we look at:
The typical questions your industry asks and sort the data from past tenders to work well for future tenders.
Focus the set-up of your library based on the industries you work with and how they would like to see the information presented.
Setting up an index and numbering your documents, with tags and labels, so information is easy to locate.
Once set up, you will find it valuable, easy to navigate, and best of all reduce your time on that next tender response.
2. Develop case studies
In many industries, e.g. construction, it helps if you can present your similar experience through written information and by providing some visual presentation of the outcomes of your projects, goods, and services.
Case studies do not have to be complicated or lengthy. We typically include the following headings and information in case studies:
Title: A good title that explains the Solution delivered and the value proposition for the client;
Project Overview: Short project overview, including the client details (beware confidentiality requirements when disclosing client names), what the project was and why you were approached to provide your Solution;
The Problem: What it was and why it was a problem;
The Solution: How the Problem was solved (be mindful not to give away your intellectual property with too many details);
The Outcome: Were there any obstacles along the way? How did you resolve them? and what was the feedback? (e.g. quotes and testimonials). In addition, you will also add some visual proof of the project outcomes.
Most often, when we develop case studies for businesses, we do a one-page document. You can re-use and repurpose for quotes, tenders and capability statements with little need to amend – thus saving heaps of time as the information is handy and looks great.
3. Keep up to date with your 'people's skills
Many tenders require you to provide copies of procedures, training records, training registers, and licences – all information that can demonstrate that you, your staff and subcontractors are competent and have the right skills required by the tender. You will also be required to provide information about your team and key subcontractors to be utilised when delivering the services.
Like your tender library, create a staff/training register; excel is an excellent tool for this. You can incorporate all pertinent information about each staff member, so it's easy to reference.
We typically use a table where we include:
Name and job title and role in the tender (e.g. supervisor);
Total years in industry and years worked for your business;
Key licences, expiry dates, qualifications and registration information;
Similarity to the current tender (this would be the section that you update for the specific tender you are working on).
Even if you provided full resumes, the table quickly confirms to the tender evaluation panel that your people are indeed competent and have the right skills required by the tender.
4. Focus on quality and exercising your obligation of duty of care
Many tenders require evidence of risks assessments, work method statements, Job Safety Analysis (JSA), incident reports etc., where you demonstrate that you have appropriate systems and processes in place to manage your duty of care.
The quality of evidence provided is often not the best, and it's often apparent it was a last-minute panic dump into the tender response. We grab an example of a work method statement or JSA from a mate, bang on our logo and think this will work.
Creating quality systems, processes, and evidence takes some time, but only in the short term. Once these are in place and become standard working practices, this will save you considerable time proving it in your tender response.
When everyone understands their obligations around duty of care, they will meet the requirements of your current projects, and you can use this as evidence for future tenders. Not only to tick a box but to make sure that everyone goes home safe - every day.
The value of being tender ready
Finally, setting up for being tender ready takes time but saves time in the long run. It allows you to work out where the gaps are in your business, to set up systems and processes not only for tender preparation but successfully managing and completing projects – with competent people and making sure you meet your duty of care.
Feel free to browse our tendering resources page for useful examples and tips – working with you to save time for your tender preparation.
We have many useful blogs to help you on the tendering journey, some of which we have linked above, but you can check out the rest of our blogs here.