Badly Written Tender Documents

Do you ever wonder why some Invitation to Tender documents are so poor?

Maybe you think that ALL tenders are bad! That’s understandable. However, decisions on large purchases need to taken with care; that is why organisations use the tendering process. Furthermore, the public sector must follow rules which can make some tenders more complicated.

Nevertheless, none of that excuses:

  • Confusing / incorrect specifications
  • Too much detail requested
  • Irrelevant or overly complex questions
  • Overlapping or repeated questions – asking the same things over again
  • Excessively complicated instructions / procedures

Why are some Invitation to Tender Documents so Bad?

It’s clear that some ITTs are not thought out properly. There can be many reasons for this:

  1. Committees – many different inputs over-complicating matters
  2. Procurement – buyers too busy or maybe inexperienced (and some are just careless!)
  3. Tender templates or ‘cut and paste’ used – standard formats do not suit all types of products or services
  4. Lack of industry knowledge – leading to inappropriate questions asked

How to Deal with Poor ITT Tender Documents

Even though the tender documents might not be great, you still need to try and submit your very best bid. Look again at the reasons above – the tender panel didn’t intend to issue a bad set of tender documents! So try to not get too annoyed – if you start getting ‘tender rage’ then stop work and recommence once you have calmed down and have a clear head.

You need to:

Unfortunately, if the tender documents are bad then it is quite possible that the whole process will be painful. So don’t always expect that you will receive helpful responses to your clarifications questions. But do remember that all others tendering are in the same position as you.

We frequently have to deal with lacklustre tender documents but by keeping calm and following the tips in Responding to Tender Questions, we go on to win the contracts.

2 thoughts on “Badly Written Tender Documents”

  1. I think this is a great perspective because it gives suppliers an insight to the organisation that they are submitting the tendering applications to. The reasons highlighted for poor tender documents are very good and may highlight a couple of things:
    a) The person who is assembling the document does not really understand what needs to be done and they may just have been given a task to prepare the document.
    b) The real decision maker/ person or department the supplier will be working with may be far removed from the document preparation process.
    c) Even though buyers have to follow procedures this may be an indication as to how clear they are on what the really need and want.
    d) Can be an opportunity for the supplier to rise above it all, be professional and build good relationships with the contact in their desire to get clarification.

  2. Thanks Morton
    You have made some excellent points. People sometimes forget that tendering is still selling – so you need to try your best to try and understand the prospect and its organisation.

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