27th Apr 2015 AUTHOR: Robert Machin

Tender Development: Tentative about Tendering?

Why not take a different approach? If you consider tendering an opportunity to 'raise the bar' or 'lift your game' the benefits may improve your business performance, let alone your win rate.


  • If overwhelmed by the challenges of a tender response, consider consciously changing your intent: doing so could improve your chances of success and add significant value to your current business.
  • Choosing to grow business via tendering is a strategic decision: and it deserves time, commitment and resources.
  • Be prepared: get started now and remember, "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity"

It's a Matter of Attitude

Mention tendering to most business owners or operators and their eyes roll back in their heads - you can just see the words flashing though their minds "government, bureaucracy, complexity, red tape and the cost! Followed quickly by, 'a waste of time, a waste of money and, we never win anyway. It's all rigged!"

So what if you changed your attitude? What if the benefits of embracing the tender response process went beyond improving your chances of winning business? What if they saw your performance improve and your business grow in value?

A Different Attitude Can Bring Surprise Benefits

Let's be honest: most of us will not take the initiative to implement systems and processes, no matter how beneficial, unless we are forced to do so.

Take Workplace Health and Safety for example. When the first legislation was introduced back in the mid 1980s in Australia, businesses were required to establish WH&S Committees and systems within a defined timeframe. Who would argue today that this hasn't been beneficial for all concerned? Where WH&S processes have been embraced has led to safer workplaces resulting in improved business performance with happier, more loyal staff. But it did take the enactment of law to make it happen.

How does this relate to tender capability?

True, no one is going to legislate that you must respond to tenders if you want to do business. But if you want to transact with government and large companies you must compete in the world of tendering; deciding to do so is a strategic decision for you and your business to weigh up carefully.

Most of the challenges and perceived complexities faced by would-be tenderers result from not having the required systems and processes in place to meet the Conditions of Tender. This can be really frustrating for an organisation that meets and possibly exceeds the Tender Specification requirements - they can do the job!

Some Conditions of Tender that are commonly seen include:

  • WH&S Management Systems
  • Environmental & Sustainability Policies and Plans
  • Cultural Diversity Action Plans
  • Business Continuity Planning (BCP) and,
  • Plans to provide local employment or local content in delivery of services

Now, if you are trying to create these 'on the run', not only will your efforts be half-baked but you are unlikely to be able to demonstrate sufficient operational history to convince your potential client that you qualify. Clients want to see hard evidence that you have adopted these systems and processes and they are not simply vapourware.

Why Tender At All?

Keep in mind the very considerable benefits of the tender process for both the Client and the Tenderer. Consider the following.

For the Client (Your potential client) the tendering process:

  • Permits an unbiased, objective assessment of what the marketplace currently offers
  • Meets the requirements for probity and public interest where the tenderer is spending taxpayer funds or is responsible to its shareholders
  • Provides a formalised and transparent method of tender evaluation compares apples with apples
  • Allows a level playing field for tenderers
  • Facilitates good management practice mitigates and hopefully removes the opportunity for corruption

For the Tenderer (You) the tendering process:

  • Affords the opportunity to grow your business around requirements for future contracts by both government and established organisations
  • Provides the chance to ensure your business procedures, processes and systems are up-to-date and compliant see Conditions of Tender
  • Serves as a health-check for your business through the eyes of the tender process you are alerted to matters that, if addressed, can only add value to your business
  • Creates a discipline which, if adopted as a business growth strategy, will be valuable in winning new business and ensuring you are performing at an optimal level
  • Demonstrates good management practice
Deciding whether to grow your business by tendering is a strategic decision. If you adopt this growth strategy however, you can't succeed by adopting half measures. It requires a commitment to learn; to apply the skills necessary to develop tendering capability to be successful. It requires an investment of time and resources to optimise your chances of success.

There is a Better Way

Rather than thinking that you ought to be tendering to grow your business and waiting until you are confronted with the opportunity of a lifetime but with no time to prepare a compelling response, why not make a strategic decision to get started now?


"Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity"

Finally, don't be like the business owner who called Tender Success recently and told us he has held a contract for the past 14 years and his client (read: new manager appointed) is going to test the market. He was informed that 40% of the Tender Specification will reference established and demonstrable Work Health and Safety Management Systems. And guess what? He's now running around employing WH&S specialists who are trying to implement systems and create a history to ensure he meets the Conditions of Tender.

Adopt this attitude: I might not win my first tender; I might not win every tender, but at the very least I'll be improving my business and increasing its value while building tender capability and increasing my chances of future success.


Rob Machin is a principal consultant for Tender Success. He has helped businesses improve their tendering attitudes for more than 25 years. Contact Rob to ensure your next response is a success.