Despite the current economic uncertainty, we’ve seen even more Suppliers than usual subscribing to our notification service, and turning to tendering to secure future work and help their business survive and thrive.
For anyone new to tendering, the process can be daunting at first, so it’s important to understand the various stages in the lifecycle of a request for tender (RFT). For the more experienced bidders out there, it’s helpful to know how each stage fits within the illion TenderLink ecosystem.
Why? Because with nearly 1 in 5 public tenders in the Australasian market being published through our portals, chances are you’ll become part of our tendering community at some point. Find out how a subscription can help you get a head start on what can be a lengthy process, and gain insight into beating your competition.
So below is a handy diagram of the tendering process, with an explanation of each step, including how our services support both Buyers and Suppliers at each stage.
1. Buyer lists a Request For Tender
• Opportunities from our 600+ Buyer Partners are published through their TenderLink e-procurement portals, or our casual advertising portal, AdCentre. These are stored directly in our tender database.
• Tenders published outside of our portals, such as in newspapers or on a government website, are added to our database by our dedicated research team, who monitor thousands of sources across the entire Australasian market every day.
2. Get Notified or Search for Tender
• If you have an illion TenderLink subscription, you’ll automatically receive an email notification of any new public tenders (both from our Buyer Partners or external sources) which match the category, location, and/or keywords in your search profile, so that you get full coverage of your industry and can start preparing your response immediately.
• If you don’t have a paid subscription, you can search our Buyer Partners, register to each portal for free, and receive notifications whenever they list a new opportunity. With this option, you’ll have to create a new TenderLink account for each portal, and you’ll get separate email notifications from each. To access tenders from other sources, you’ll need to manually search online and in newspapers.
3. Plan and Prepare
• Download all of the tender documents, read carefully and ask yourself; does the contract fit your business strategy? Can you deliver the work in accordance with the client’s terms and expectations? Make a well-informed decision to bid or not to bid, and make sure you clarify anything you’re unsure of – our portals include an online forum where you can ask Buyers questions publicly or privately.
• Brief all staff involved in preparing the submission so that you can agree on a unified approach, and begin collecting the relevant information/contributions you’ll need from various business areas (finance, sales, account managers, procurement, bid writers, etc).
4. Write your tender response
• Your response should include things like a cover page, executive summary, qualitative schedules (answering questions), quantitative schedules (proposed pricing), references, and any appendices. Remember to proof-read and ensure your bid is compliant – while this isn’t necessarily what wins tenders, it can certainly cause you to be disqualified based on a technicality or missed requirement.
• We recommend keeping your response client-focused and using persuasive writing to highlight your point of difference. If you’re looking to develop your tender response writing skills and improve your win rate, check out our BidPro workshops, hosted by some of the most qualified bid consulting professionals in Australasia.
5. Submit your tender response
• These days, most bids need to be uploaded electronically, as opposed to submitting physical documents to a tender box. Most of our Buyer Partners require submissions through their portals, while other Buyers may require you to submit your response through their website or via email. Either way, it’s a good idea to compress or ‘zip’ your files, as many electronic tender boxes have a size limit for uploaded documents.
• You must submit your tender response on time, or preferably early in case anything goes wrong or files are slow to upload. In most cases, tender submissions received after the nominated closing date/time are treated as non-compliant and will not be considered.
6. Buyer evaluates submissions
• Buyers evaluate on a number of aspects, such as capability and competence, relevant prior experience, competitive pricing, value for money, risk, and compliance. Our Buyer Partners also have the option of using our Evaluation Toolset, which allows them to create standardised tender response templates, define a scoring system upfront, and assign different weightings to key criteria.
• You may be invited to attend a post-tender interview to give further details and clarification of your ability to carry out the work, or be given the opportunity to negotiate on price or timeframes.
7. Buyer awards tender
• The Buyer will award the tender to whichever company best meets their evaluation and scoring criteria. Our Buyer Partners will often award tenders directly through their portal, sending an email notification to both successful and unsuccessful applicants, then following up with the contract. Occasionally Buyers may prefer to make contact via phone call, or sometimes meet in person.
• Any public information about the tender outcome (e.g. who won the contract, how much it was for, start and end dates etc.) is also collated in our database. For our Buyer Partners, this happens through their portal, and for external Buyers, our research team monitor tender sources for this information too. Most of our paying subscribers then have access to this tender outcome data, and can either have it emailed to them regularly or can search the database, allowing them to identify more opportunities by way of subcontracting, or monitoring end dates to predict when contracts will come up for renewal.
8. Contract Commences
• Congratulations! You've secured the much-needed work to keep your business thriving, and are continuing to build a valuable relationship with the buyer – which could lead to further opportunities down the track.
• Although you’ve now got your hands full with current work to do, it’s still an important time to be aware of upcoming opportunities, so you can line up future work for when this contrat comes to an end. Keep looking for the next tender!
It’s a detailed process with lots of moving parts, which standardly takes between 2-8 weeks, but can take as little as just a few days, or as long as twelve months on some occasions to get from the tender being listed to the Supplier finally commencing work. So whether you’re new to the game, or you’ve tendered for years, it’s important to stay one step ahead.
That’s why you need to know about any new opportunities well in advance, and be proactive now - even if you don’t need work until a few months down the track.
A TenderLink subscription gives you the best chance of being notified about opportunities in your industry without any manual searching, so you can get a head start on lining up future work for weeks or months down the track.