20th Feb 2013 AUTHOR: Robert Machin

Tenders: A Health Check for Your Business?

Love or loathe them, responding to tenders is like holding a mirror to your business. A positive approach can be the key to management and performance improvements.

KEY POINTS

  • See Tender Responses as an opportunity to look inside your business, to conduct a health check and identify new initiatives to improve your performance
  • Make sure you are tender-fit and tender-ready to meet the ever-increasing demands of RFT requirements
  • Look at tenders differently - change your attitude - use them to inspire you to provide leading-edge service and products

Peering into the tender mirror can be a rewarding experience for your organisation

Problem... or Opportunity?

For many, the very word "tender" can evoke dread; long hours, unreasonable requirements, unrealistic expectations and at the end of it all: no guarantee that all your hard work will result in success.

For others, it's like turning up to a final exam; tired from all the other things you need to do (business as usual), insufficient time to prepare and a feeling of doom before you start. Let's face it; it's hard enough to maintain the rage when you're in the middle of battle trying to complete a tender response, let alone trying to engender the initial enthusiasm needed to inspire a team to get it started.

So, how can you change your approach - yes, change your attitude - to tenders in a way that makes them an opportunity to do things better; to improve your performance?

Health Check

Now it might sound like a bit of a stretch to refer to the task of responding to a tender as an opportunity for a health check, but consider. So many of the requirements for a tender response (especially for government business) require you to demonstrate your capability and expertise in delivering superior services or products. This frequently includes demonstrating that you are running a finely tuned business worthy of partnering with the Tenderer.

For example:

  • Do you have a Sustainability Policy and Plan?
  • Do you have an Environmental Policy and Plan?
  • Is your WH&S Policy and Plan up-to-date with current legislation?
  • Are you quality certified?
  • Are all your CVs up-to-date, together with photographs of key personnel?
  • Are you financials in order - past 3 years - and available?
  • Do you have a BCP (Business Continuity Plan) in place? (And how will your business continue in the event of disruption?)
  • Is your DRP (Disaster Recovery Plan) up-to-date and tested? (And how will you restore the information technology and communications systems that support your business continuity?)

The list goes on, but I'm sure you get my meaning.

While a 'final exam' might determine your next 'course' literally, the preparation of a tender response can determine which aspects of your business need attention and what course you need to follow. The RFT requirements may assist you in answering questions like:

  • Are we really up-to-speed with the requirements of this tender opportunity?
  • Is this the direction in which we want take our business?
  • Are we prepared to invest in the policies, plans and procedures to win this type of business?
  • What are the next steps if we are going to comply with these requirements?

Increasing RFT Requirements

For a plethora of reasons RFT requirements are becoming more demanding, and it's not just with government. This is a reflection of the need for governments to ensure value for money and reliable supply; it is no different with large commercial companies.

Case Study
In a recent client engagement the Request for Tender was for the provision of services to a private organisation. However, this was in fulfilment of the requirements for a contract with government. Consequently, our client (third party) was required to meet all of the government requirements under the third party provisions of the contract.

Now, one of the emerging requirements was for policies and plans for sustainability. While it was not a mandatory requirement, at this point, we could see 'the writing on the wall', so our client determined it would create a Sustainability Policy and commit to developing a Sustainability Plan.

The point? Using the RFT requirement can not only incite you to ensure your systems and services are up-to-date but also provide you with vital reasons for ensuring your business implements leading edge initiatives like sustainability.

So, next time someone tells you there's a Tender about to be published and you are required to get in and help, don't go pale thinking of all the hard work and long hours. Rather, look to the opportunity to road-test your current service or product offering and seek ways to improve, while ensuring that what you do is up to speed and up-to-date.

robRob Machin is a senior consultant for Tender Success. For more than 25 years he has successfully looked into the tender mirror on behalf of Australian businesses. Contact Tender Success to ensure your next response is a success.