Main steps in the tender process

Each year, federal, state and local governments invite the private sector to submit competitive bids for the supply of goods and services. Government tender requests attract small, medium and large businesses across a wide range of sectors – from office supplies to major construction projects.

Tender processes in the government sector share many common elements. What follows is an overview of the main steps you should take to prepare a competitive tender.

Register your interest

Follow the instructions in the tender document to register your interest with the purchasing agency. This important step will help keep you up to date on any tender information sessions.

Attend tender information sessions

If you registered through a tender website, monitor the website for updates about the tender.

Attend any tender information sessions offered. These are valuable opportunities to ask questions and make contact with the agency. They may also give you a chance to meet potential subcontractors or make contacts that could participate in a consortium. Government agencies are also usually under no obligation to otherwise make available copies of information, presentations, etc., that may be given at an information session.

Develop your tender response strategy

If you are bidding for a high-value tender, plan your tender carefully and consider the requirements and resources involved. For example, ask yourself:

  • How much will it cost to prepare the tender?
  • What information do we need to gather?
  • What resources will we need to fulfil the contract?
  • Who will manage the tender project?
  • How will we plan the workload, assign the work required, schedule the meetings?
  • Who is our competition and what are our chances of winning?
  • What is our plan for marketing our products and services and pitching our business?

Read more about analysing tender requests.

Review recent awarded contracts

If you are unclear about any requirements in the tender request, contact the tender coordinator to seek clarification. Also, review previously awarded contracts using the Queensland Government Arrangements Directory. The details of recent government contracts over $10,000 that have been awarded are listed on tender websites.

Research your buyer. What type of companies won similar tenders in the past? What does the contracting agency look for? What can you do to match their expectations?

Write a compelling bid

Prepare your tender proposal. This includes planning, drafting and refining it.

Make sure that you use the response forms provided and answer all questions. Stick to any word/page limits that there may be, and (as a general rule) do not go altering things like fonts and font sizes and numbering unless expressly permitted.

Be clear about your structure and propositions. Decide on several key propositions you can use to set your tender apart from others. Review the evaluation criteria to gain a better understanding of what things the government agency is particularly looking for and will be evaluating your offer against. If you are not a strong writer, think about engaging a professional (a range of businesses offer tender writing services).

Understand the payment terms

When putting together your tender, make sure you are aware of the payment schedule specified. Government payment schedules will vary from agency to agency and procurement to procurement.

You may not get paid as soon as the job is finished or goods are delivered. If you require payment different to that specified, you should detail this in your offer.

Find referees

Find referees who know your business and can attest to your work.

Give your referees clear information about the tender request so they know what points to emphasise in their reference. If you have previously supplied goods or services to a government agency, ask them for a reference.

Check and submit your bid

Make sure you check your proposal carefully before submitting it. Use a checklist to make sure your bid meets all the requirements (some tenders will include a checklist that you can also use).

Present your bid

Tender panels responsible for high-value contracts may request a formal presentation from bidders. If you need to present your offer to an evaluation panel, stay focused on the key messages in your proposal. Most importantly, prepare. Plan your presentation carefully, rehearse and, if you don't feel you're a strong presenter, get some coaching in presentation skills.

Request a debriefing

You should always request a debriefing on the tender after the process, especially if your bid is unsuccessful. Feedback from the evaluation panel can be extremely useful in understanding how your offering can be improved and can assist you in preparing for your next tender. Look for ways to improve your next bid.

Note: Debriefing sessions are not an opportunity to raise complaints; use the established complaints process instead. You should also not discuss any other supplier's offer.

Address concerns and complaints

If you have concerns or complaints about a tender process, follow the steps below:

  1. Gather evidence to support your concerns.
  2. Contact the agency concerned and communicate your issues reasonably and professionally.
  3. If you are a tenderer concerned about an offer you made, please use the tender complaints process of the relevant agency.
  4. If your concerns haven't been addressed, you can submit a complaint to the government's Queensland Procurement Policy Compliance Unit (QPP Compliance Unit). The QPP Compliance Unit can also refer your complaint to the relevant procuring agency on your behalf. The unit can assist with a range of concerns you may have about
    • supplier or agency behaviour
    • agency decisions (e.g. not buying local)
    • non-compliance of the Queensland Procurement Policy and our Buy Queensland approach
  5. Email or phone 1300 105 030 between 8.30am and 5pm Monday to Friday.

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