If you are serious about winning public sector contracts, finding an expert tender writer is essential.
So, what is a tender writer?
A tender writer, often linked with a bid writer or bid manager is the person you work with to read, review and respond to the tender documentation for a given contract opportunity.
They understand exactly what contract buyers, commissioners and procurement teams are looking for and are able to articulate your offering concisely and effectively, usually within strict word limits. Being removed from the day-to-day business, they are objective, decisive and sometimes ruthless! Information you may feel passionate about sharing, but does not answer the tender question, will be deleted by a tender writer as they seek to answer the question properly, and without superfluous material.
Reviewing, reading, and responding to a tender accurately is time-consuming and is often subject to tight deadlines and last-minute changes, so a tender writer needs to be very organised, methodical, and diligent. They will also be calm and collected under pressure, with the strong communication skills needed to bring all of the different parties and pieces of information together to create a contract-winning bid.
What are the steps a tender writer needs to take?
1. Collate Invitation to Tender documents
Before the tender writer starts to complete the tender, they need to obtain all the Invitation to Tender documents, specifications, and evaluation criteria and read through them.
2. Assess tender documents
They will need to look at what information is required to deliver a strong tender and discern whether it’s readily available and of good quality. If not, the tender writer will either need to obtain access to it, request it from the relevant ‘subject matter’ expert, or craft some fresh material.
3. Plot timelines and create a tender project plan
They will also need to factor in timelines to ensure the tender deadline is met and quality work isn’t rushed. A good tender writer will have compiled an effective bid library in which they store useful information, key documentation, and contract-winning content, which will help the tender response process. A tender project plan will also outline key stakeholders/subject matter experts, roles, responsibilities, and dates for what is needed and by when.
4. Compile and assess tender documentation
Once all of the information required has been identified, the tender writer will work with the key stakeholders to gather it together and confirm it is of sufficient quality to score highly. They will also ensure the necessary evidence and supporting documentation is compiled to back up each statement with real experience.
5. Start tender writing
When there is enough information to form a good tender response, the tender writer will begin writing. They will be aware of the word count and the need to succinctly and accurately answer each tender question in a persuasive, evidence-driven way. Once the first draft is written it will be proofread (ideally by a peer or quality assurance manager) before being shared with the senior stakeholders who may be asked to confirm the accuracy of the responses or provide additional input.
This stage can be quite challenging as there are often ‘many cooks’ that want to add in more and more ‘flavour.’ However, it is the responsibility of an experienced tender writer to anticipate and distinguish quality from quantity and keep everyone on point so that the final product is exceptional.
6. Review and amend the tender response then submit
The final tender will be amended, sense-checked, and proofread by the tender writer before going through any final quality assurance, diligence, and sign-off stages. It will then be submitted, along with all the relevant supporting documentation to the appropriate procurement e-portal.
Why do I need a tender writer?
The ability to answer a set of tender questions correctly, factually and persuasively is a skill. The qualitative element of a tender is most often the area where businesses (that have approached us) have fallen down in the past. They know their company inside out, but being able to articulate this in the way that beats their competitors takes time to learn and techniques to master.
It can often be most valuable to outsource this role to a tender writing specialist. A professional tender writer will have honed their craft and developed their way of winning contracts, ensuring they learn from every past tender to continuously improve. They will also be skilled in project and client/stakeholder management to ensure deadlines are met, and be more than familiar with the workings and nuances of procurement teams and evaluation panels.