Mistakes in the bidding process can result in missed opportunities, waste of time and energy and reputational damage. Putting together a strong bid proposal requires a lot of effort and time and is not merely putting a couple of numbers together and keeping your fingers crossed. Tender requirements and specifications need to be closely analysed and fully-understood, before moving on to accurately estimating the costs involved in the delivery of the project. Missing out on (even) a minor detail more often than not leads to disqualification.
In this blog article we present a number of mistakes to avoid when preparing your bids. Missing out on some fineprint can have a devastating effect on the project’s or organisation’s bottom line. When writing a solid tender/RFP/RFQ response, a good starting point is to understand the common mistakes – so you make sure you avoid them!
Not asking the right clarification questions
After thoroughly going through the tender documentation, always look out for gaps in the requirements and any grey areas that lead to subjective interpretations. Ensure you have all the pertinent information, the specifics and that all the information in hand is accurate. Fully review the specifications and plans to determine if there are areas which require further input from the contracting authority. Collate a list of clarification questions and send them over within the stipulated time (and to the generic email address provided in the tender documentation). Questions should be direct and a clear reference to the section should be made. Common mistakes are to make a list of assumptions and submit a bid based on these and to try to cost areas which are very vague, not quantifiable or subject to various interpretations.
Overestimating your resource capacity
It is not simply about winning the work. The focus should be on high-quality delivery. When business development teams, responsible for preparing bids, overestimate the capacity of their company’s resources… that can be a mistake which leads to over-stretched resources, incurred losses and possibly fines and penalties for missed milestones. Do not be over optimistic. Involve operations personnel for valuable (and realistic!) input and factor in additional expenses related to overtime, sub-contractors and outsourcing (if allowed) costs. This notion is applicable to your human resources, plant and equipment and production lines. Regularly conduct a factual evaluation of the various resources and analyse data to be as much as possible spot on. Do factor in maintenance downtime, breakages and repairs pockets of time (contingency).
Incomplete Forms and documentation
This can be caused by lack of time or juggling between too many tasks in one go. When preparing a bid, it is always recommended to highlight or write a list of deliverables in the form of a checklist to ensure that all that is required is actually submitted. Incorrect formats and presentation layouts, fee schedules, missing information, late submissions and incorrect number of copies supplied, are all common mistakes. When responses are being collected from different departments or personnel, it is best practice to have an owner who is responsible for coordinating and collating the final bid.
A bid is the reflection of the company and its brand(s). Learn from past mistakes and strive not to lose marks, to portray a professional image and to make your submission relevant to all the requirements in the RFP/RFQ/Tender document.