PQQ / Pre-Qualification Questionnaires

How to Answer Tender Questions to Score High Marks

This guide on how to answer tender questions will help you to create better tender responses. Previous posts have been combined with some new information to provide a comprehensive resource on answering tender questions.

To win a tender (or get through a PQQ) you need to score high marks. Answer tender questions well and submit a competitive price then you should score highly. And hopefully win the bid!

How to Answer Tender Questions and Score High Marks

Answer Tender Questions Effectively

Once you have qualified the tender and made a plan, you can start writing. NB make sure you avoid the most common tendering mistakes.

An earlier post explained best practice for Answering Tender Questions:

It explains how to approach each response so that it is correct, complete and succinct. So often I see answers where waffle or irrelevant information is used in place of a crisp precise answer. Sometimes this is due to copy and pasting of a past response which is similar (but not identical) to the current question. It is important that you focus your response on the question in hand.

Understanding Tender Evaluation Criteria

Tender Evaluation Criteria and Tender Evaluation Methodology

Understanding the Tender Evaluation Criteria and Tender Evaluation Methodology is a vital part of the Bid Manager’s toolkit. Using them can help you to qualify the tender opportunity and improve your score.

Tender Evaluation Criteria

PQQs and tenders will often include a guide on how they are marked. Below is an example tender evaluation criteria or matrix. It shows a tender evaluation using weighted criteria:

Tender Evaluation Criteria Example

They all look different and criteria differs depending on each customer’s needs. The scoring can range from simple percentage splits to complex weighting systems. But the basic principles of tender evaluation criteria remain the same.

Bid Management Team: Bid Managers and the Bid Team Explained

One of the elements of great bid management is a good bid team. Teamwork really helps improve your chances of winning tenders.

Bid Management Team Organisation Chart

Larger business will often have bid writing departments and bid managers. They will also be used to assembling bid teams to tackle complex tenders. But smaller businesses often overlook how important teamwork is in winning tenders. In our work as Tender Consultants we often find that SMEs only have one person dealing with tenders. This is potentially limiting their chances of success.

Forming a Bid Team and nominating a Bid Manager will help you to produce higher quality tender responses.  The diagram below shows the key elements of a Bid Team:

What is Bid Management?

It is the process of project managing a tender, sales proposal or pitch from start to finish.

It includes completion of the all aspects detailed below, managing people and ensuring everything is completed in a timely manner.

Ideally, bid management starts before before the issue of a tender. That way, the team is better prepared to compete. It ends sometime post-award. That ensures the hand-over to the team running the contract is seamless. And everything agreed in the bid (from the supplier and customer) is covered.

The Bid Manager

The Bid Manager has overall responsibility for the tender or PQQ and leading the Bid Team. He or she will undertake project or ‘Bid Management’ of the tender. This involves pulling together a Bid Team and coordinating the team to ensure that everything is completed properly and on time.

Who Should Be Completing PQQs?

An interesting question was raised about who should be completing PQQs (pre-qualification questionnaires):

“We are a multi-brand global manufacturer and would like to streamline the PQQ process to ensure that we are registered in customer’s approved vendor lists. Typically, who should be responsible to drive and complete the PQQs? Sales Department? Quality Assurance Department?”

Without any doubt responsibility for completing PQQs and approved supplier questionnaires should lie with the Sales Department… Even if they don’t do it themselves. A PQQ will hopefully lead to business so maximising its chances of success must be down to Sales. They must have ownership and control of winning businesses.

Completing PQQs Checklist Chart

I’ve helped a number of larger firms get a more streamlined structured approach with proper ownership. This often involves process changes and new responsibilities. It also requires obtaining buy-in from the top down to ensure that new structure is followed.

UPDATE: Since writing this, in the public sector PQQs have mainly been replaced by SQs (Supplier Questionnaires). These are simpler and are no longer issued before the tender. They now form part of the ITT. See Tender Jargon Buster and the tendering process. But PQQs are still used for large contracts and some private sector tenders to get a shortlist of bidders.

Completing PQQs

As you will see in our Fit to Tender Check-list, PQQs tend to cover the following areas:

You don’t really want field sales people tied up in the office completing PQQs. Much of the information is standard stuff. So secretaries and administrators from any department can usually tackle the majority of a PQQ. With some training they may well be able to complete many of the technical questions. A tender library will often provide similar answers that can be adapted.

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