Successful Tendering – Preparation is the Key

In the article Getting Involved in the Global Development Market (available in full in
Latest News at []) I commented that while tendering skills are
critical, in isolation of other key activities success is a lottery.

Preparation must remain as a key and ongoing activity if organisations and
individuals are to expect success from their tendering involvement.

While there is no doubt that some of this preparation may require investment if site
visits and the like are to occur, as they need to, not all preparation is costly.

So often, when working with some of the smaller organisations that seek activity in
sub-components of larger projects, the tendering effort is stressful, time-
challenged and often without system.

This can be managed by planning in advance.

As discussed in Getting Involved in the Global Development Market, tender
responses, even for sub-components, invariably require details of your team,
approach and methodology, management, price and past experience. With the
often tight timelines for the tender response, it is critical that time is spent on
ensuring the best possible solution to the project’s requirements at the best
possible price. Hence, time should be mostly devoted to new thinking, not
administrative compilation of past information.

There is no doubt that a successful track record of implementing or involvement in
similar activities will be assessed and contribute to your success or failure for any
tender. But this does not mean taking two weeks to find and compile a list of past
experiences is time well spent – this can be done now and on an ongoing basis.

All tenders are likely to request a range of information that demonstrates your
experience in past, similar activities. Information required invariably includes the
activity name, location and duration, client, project value, key personnel by name
and title, and a synopsis of the activity.

Collating this activity is obviously going to be a challenge if it requires seeking out
personnel and past team members for information, relying on memory etc. The
solution is to encourage the habit of compiling relevant information as soon as a
project or activity commences, and keeping the information current.

This can be made even easier by capturing information from the beginning of a
project consistent with how a future tender might require the information

Major agencies require a Project Data Sheet (PDS, or similar name) for each project
example that you are presenting with your tender. This is usually one page per
example, and captures all the information required in the assessment of your
tender. I have prepared a word document that is consistent with information that
would be required by the World Bank, ADB and AusAID etc, and any sub-
components within project from those agencies. This can be downloaded from the
Latest News page at [] (it is listed
as PDS Template.doc).

So what do I do now I have the PDS Template?

Simply stated – start using it!

If you have a number of project examples in different formats, then consider
updating the information to use this format. If you have yet to compile capability
information, then this would be a useful format to start populating.

Importantly, as any new project or activity commences, set up a new PDS
immediately and update it regularly.

Can I use each PDS just as it is for any tender I submit?

Remember that while this template is consistent with what is currently asked, it is
important to check exact tender requirements before submission to ensure

Secondly, each tender has different considerations because each project is different,
so a generic response is seldom successful. Similarly, each project you have
undertaken would have contained a range of activities, approaches etc. So, before
just adding a PDS example to a tender submission, consider what the tender’s
(project’s) focus is, and ensure your PDS examples demonstrate this. Occasionally a
slight re-write to place greater emphasis on a key aspect of relevance is important.

What if I do not tender for activities?

The information that the PDS template captures is useful for submissions direct to
client, or as a data capture tool for drawing information from for developing
capability documents, case-study information and the like.

Preparation is the key.

Whether preparing a tender for a complex project, or a proposal direct to a client, it
is important that time is spent coming up with the best possible approach to ensure
implementation creates the best outcomes. Taking time away from this critical
aspect of tender and proposal development to prepare Project Data Sheets is not
time well spent.


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