I play on a recreational soccer team and I’ve been away for the last six weeks on a bid. I returned to my first training session with a great deal of enthusiasm, but within the first 15 minutes of our practice game, I felt like I was trying to breathe through a straw whilst an angry mob poked me in the ribs. I was committed, but the fitness required was not there. I was trying my best, but I was just doing what I did the last time I was at training and not what they were focusing on now.
This made me think about a previous tender I had worked on. The team was committed, they were doing their best, but they were doing the same thing they had done on their last tender, instead of focusing on what they should be doing for their current one.
Like anything you that want to be good at, tender writing is a practice, so it takes practice.
Starting the writing process on a tender can be a daunting task. Inspiration can strike and words can flow out, it is easy to let your fingers run away on you. But, it’s not always best to write down everything that comes to mind. You don’t want to finish your writing spree only to discover that your content is not addressing the questions or the requirements.
You want to provide THE response, not a response.
If your response is similar to any of the following: “what we usually do for these sorts of questions”, “we already have on file…”, “this is what we have always done” or “what we did last time”… Then it’s time to take a step back. Try approaching your response similar to the below;
Carefully read the question and the criteria, then break the question down into individual parts. One question can include several sub-questions that need to be addressed; and
Use the sub-questions as placeholder headers to help you structure your response and ensure that you are providing a compliant response.
If a tender returnable has called for an operational plan, you could start by copying and pasting a few key points from a previous plan. This is a good place to start but don’t forget to go back to the question and criteria and review what you have been asked to deliver, as those few key points may not be required, and that old plan could now be irrelevant.
Imagine the content writer is a player on the field, the questions and criteria are your game rules. You can’t blame the Referee (the Client) for blowing the whistle at you (marking you down) if you aren’t playing by the book.
Written by Samantha MacMillan, Tender Specialist