Frequently Asked Questions

All tenders will include clear details of what they require from you, as well as instructions for submitting your bids.
This is a very broad question, so we recommend reading our post ‘How to bid for contracts | The 9-step tendering framework’ as it covers every topic from start to finish.

Your pricing strategy should complement your overall bid plan. From conducting your Go/No Go assessment, you will have answers to questions that can be used as a foundation to build your pricing strategy.
In our post ‘Pricing strategies to win tenders’, we provide you with some additional considerations to help you make more informed decisions, along with details of standardised pricing strategies.

There are a few things you need to consider when preparing to bid for tenders. You want to be aware of market expectations, your suitability for the contract, and key information you need to include in your bid.
We have many posts covering these topics, but we recommend starting with ‘How to best prepare to win a tender’.

We have identified that there are 9 steps to writing a bid.
You can read about each step in our ‘Tenders Writing process’ post.

All business capable of delivering what buyers are looking for, have a fair chance of success. Unfortunately, there is no formula that will guarantee you will win, but there are actions you can take to significantly improve your chances of success.
You can find a range of tendering guidance within our Knowledge Hub, and our ‘Getting Started‘ section is the best place to begin your journey.

Buyers cannot evaluate you on criteria they have not shared with you – any doubt about requirements or standards can be clarified by the ITT. If the ITT is ambiguous, or missing, ask a question using the Q&A clarification log. Nothing should be hidden, Buyers want you to succeed as more tender returns means improved competition. There will, sometimes, be a tender upload checklist provided within the ITT – these are great! They are a great tool to ensure all requested information is included in your return. If they haven’t provided one then create your own submission checklist as you go through the ITT documents.

Request feedback on ALL bids, even those you win! Refine your responses, ensure case studies are current, and positive. Keep a library of case studies and evidence to speed up your bidding process next time, which will allow you more time on other elements of the response.

Also, make sure you are taking on tender opportunities aligned with your business ability and strategy – don’t try and fit a square peg in a round hole. Establish your core activities that you do well and pursue tender opportunities that align with these.

If you’re still struggling, speak to an expert – be that a colleague or someone external. An hour-long call with one of our consultants could help you resolve a number of issues. We can support you with bid writing and planning, you may only need to use us once for something to click. We also offer bid writing training should you require more comprehensive support.

Conduct market research to find out your competitors’ price points, what added value services they offer, their team qualifications and strengths. Then do a SWOT analysis.

If you are unsure of what the buyer is asking for, breakdown all the requirements stated within the ITT to ensure nothing is missed, or contact the buyer should more information be required. As a supplier, you are expected to be subject matter experts of the services you provide, and may be expected to know which mandatory accreditations are required.

As a general rule, you should be able to answer YES to the following questions:

  • Do you have industry-relevant accreditations and qualifications?
  • Can you reference and demonstrate your ability to deliver similar projects?
  • Can you provide 2-3 years of audited accounts?

Not all contracts will require you to have all of the above, but it will help. You can find further information about these requirements and getting started in our article: ‘How to best prepare to win a tender?

Yes, but you should check you meet the requirements first. Each tender will specify what is required of a supplier within the notice documentation.
It is worth doing a Go/No Go assessment to see if you ‘should’ bid for a tender – you can find a sample assessment in our post ‘How to best prepare to win a tender’.

Yes. Any organisation that can meet the requirements stated within the tender notice can bid for the work.

Everything that is required from you will be specified within the tendering documents.
It is worthwhile doing a thorough review of the documents and taking note of all the detailed requirements. You can then use this list to confirm if you are a suitable supplier for the contract.

Businesses within the EU should have no issues bidding for OJEU contracts, but for those in other nations like the UK – you will have to check that you are eligible. Many OJEU notices are open to businesses outside of the EU. OJEU contracts have values above €140,000 and inexperienced companies would be best focusing on Low-value tenders.

British businesses can bid for Low-value and High-value contracts within the UK if they meet the contract requirements. For businesses in other nations such as the Republic of Ireland – you will have to check that you are eligible. Typically, Low-value notices will be restricted to UK only suppliers. Low-value tenders start at £12,000 and are suitable for smaller and inexperienced businesses.
High-value tenders start at £138,760 and are suitable for established and experienced businesses.

Yes and no. Tender is a word commonly used in reference to a contract issued by public or private organisations looking for suppliers to meet a procurement need.
A tender is also the name of the proposal you submit when bidding for public sector contracts. It all depends on the context the word ‘tender’ is used.
If you would like to avoid confusion, we have a range of alternative terms you can use in our post: ‘What is the difference between a bid and a tender?’.

Public sector contracts are advertised publicly and are open to all suitable suppliers.
Find a Tender is the home of all High-value contracts, while Low-value contracts are scattered over 600+ different portals.
Tenders Direct exists to make your life easier by making every tender, regardless of value, available from a single source.

Whenever a public body has a need for goods, works, or services worth over the following values, it is required to publicly advertise this requirement and encourage businesses to compete for the work. Central government procurements over £12,000 must be advertised.
Sub-central procurements over £30,000 must be advertised.
This process is referred to as publishing an ‘Invitation to Tender’ or ‘ITT’, and the associated documents have become more commonly known as tenders.
For details of other types of tender and procurement procedures, please see our blog ‘What is a public sector tender?’.

Government contracts have different requirements than you will have experienced in the private sector.
Before you start bidding, visit our ‘How to tender for government contracts’ page, where you will find guidance and links to further information.

On average the UK Government spends £300 billion a year, more than a third of all public spending, on procurement – creating countless work opportunities for businesses like yours.
The most notable benefits of working with the public sector are:

  • Open and accessible tendering processes
  • Favourable treatment of SMEs
  • Guaranteed 30-day payment periods

For more information about the benefits of bidding for tenders, see our blog ‘6 reasons why you should do business with the Public Sector’.

The public sector has transparent tendering procedures, meaning all tenders are open to eligible business. The most common public procurement procedure within the UK is the ‘Open Procedure’.
This allows any business to respond to a tender, access associated documents, and bid for the contract.
There are other procedures which involve qualification stages.
Details of these can be found in our post: ‘What is a public sector tender?’.

Unlike direct award contracts, which award work directly to suppliers, Dynamic purchasing Systems are used to qualify suppliers of common goods, works, or services for future contract awards.
These systems give buyers access to a range of qualified suppliers, allowing them to avoid the need to continuously re-tender by being able to directly receive quotes from said suppliers.
The most notable aspect of these systems is suppliers can join throughout the duration of the contract. DPSs are used to streamline procurement for both buyers and suppliers, as suppliers only need to demonstrate suitability once, and buyers can award contracts quicker than other methods allow.
For details of other types of tender and procurement procedures, please see our blog ‘What is a public sector tender?’.

Unlike direct award contracts, which award work directly to suppliers, Frameworks are used to qualify suppliers for specific products or services – typically when the buyer is unsure of the scope or time frame.
These agreements give buyers access to a range of qualified suppliers, allowing them to avoid the need to continuously re-tender. Only the suppliers who register interest before the deadline may secure a place.
Winning a place on a framework can result in multiple contracts over the duration of the framework – typically 4 years. For details of other types of tender and procurement procedures, please see our blog ‘What is a public sector tender?’.

These tenders have a value above the UK public procurement thresholds, and must be published on the UK government portal ‘Find a Tender’.
For details of other types of tender and procurement procedures, please see our blog ‘What is a public sector tender?’.

These tenders have a value below the UK public procurement thresholds and are much smaller than High-value tenders, making them a great starting point for businesses entering the market for the first time. The procedures for low-value notices are usually simpler, and bidding for these provides suppliers with valuable experience to help them go after high-value tenders in the future. For details of other types of tender and procurement procedures, please see our blog ‘What is a public sector tender?’.

A restricted procedure is a two-stage process that involves creating a shortlist of the most suitable suppliers, by having them first complete a selection questionnaire.
Those shortlisted will receive an invitation to tender and are allowed to bid for the contract.
This type of procedure is generally used if a high volume of bidders is expected. For details of other types of tender and procurement procedures, please see our blog ‘What is a public sector tender?’.

Some contracts require some form of pre-qualification, and only after you have demonstrated you can meet the requirements, will you be invited to tender. There are a few different processes that use pre-qualification, and details of these can be found in our post ‘What is a public sector tender?’

All contract notices will provide details of what the tender submission process is.
Please be aware that not all submission processes will be similar, so Always leave time to get your proposal submitted. You can encounter barriers, systems can go down, and other unexpected issues can all delay on time submission. In our post ‘Planning your winning tender submission’, we offer guidance to help you identify where you should allocate time.

Unless there is a reason to the contrary, tender opportunities run for 30-days when electronic submission is used. You will need this time to undertake a Go / No Go review, create a compliance matrix, plan responses, obtain evidence, interview subject matter experts within your company, seek clarifications using the Q&A function, engage your supply-chain and create case studies. You will also need to ensure you are familiar with portal uploads – it is inadvisable to leave this until the last day in case of any surprises, or IT failures. Missing the deadline for any reason other than a complete shutdown of the portal will mean your bid is not accepted.

Our ‘Planning your winning tender submission’ guide can be used to help you plan and visualize your workload.

This will happen in a competitive commercial setting. Do not burn bridges with Buyers, use the opportunity to obtain feedback on your own bid and get as much information on the winning bid as possible. Ask Buyers for feedback on how to improve next time. If losing out on an opportunity for 4 years (as with Term Contracts or certain framework arrangements) is business critical, you may wish to consider DPS’s, which have regular call-offs for work and can be joined at any time.

Failure in Public procurement is part of the process, provided you learn from it and do not ruin relationships with buyers. Next time will be better.

You will also receive the winning tenderer’s price – scrutinize this. Can you deliver the opportunity for their price? If not, you’ll need to work on your quality submission and claw marks back from this.

Typically 4-6 weeks but this can vary massively. A full timeline will be provided on the ITT, from publishing the bid, to contract award date, to contract commencement date. Buyers will usually work to the dates stated within the documentation.

If the date for contract award specified in the ITT has passed, you may wish to follow up directly with the Buyer or their procurement department. Please be aware, it is unlikely you will receive much information.

Trust the process, wait for the Contract Award date, and you should receive information in due course. If the lack of information is business-critical (i.e., you need to engage a new supplier should you win and have a closing window to achieve this) – contact the Buyer, explain the situation, and request information. However, due to transparency rules within public procurement, you may need to wait for a Contract Award Decision letter, rather than being told over the phone.

Buyers will typically specify font style and size. While this may seem silly to Suppliers, it can be significant to buyers. If you cannot select the correct font size as specified in the tender return, can you expect Buyers to trust you to read contractual documents or provide a service to their exact requirements? Attention to detail is critical, and any information contained within ITTs on this topic must be written down and conformed with. If no information is given, the favorite is Ariel font size 12. Go with this unless the Tender documents state otherwise.

Another point here is the use of embedded links, one-size marketing materials, etc. Buyers may not be able to follow these due to firewall protections or reviewing your bid as a hard/paper copy. Check the ITT or ask for clarification if you wish to use these – never assume.