In preparing a tender there a number of actions an organisation should take:

  • Read all the documentation carefully and note the key points.
  • Focus your bid on the requirements of the brief - not what you think are the issues to be addressed.
  • Check that the organisation can meet all requirements and that it will have the necessary resources to deliver the contract, if successful.
  • Note the duration of the contract. It is becoming standard in the third sector to award two or three-year contracts.
  • Understand the cost implications of the contract. In costings, you need to account for all costs, including management, training and back office costs, plus an element for contingencies. Try to practice 'Full Cost Recovery'
  • Understand and clarify all legal issues contained in the contract.
  • Compile a checklist of all items to be included with the tender.
  • If possible, try to get the completed tender read by a 'critical friend' or mentor for their comments.

NCVO's checklist for tender preparation - download here

Remember to designate someone to take overall responsibility for compiling the tender. Specific aspects can be allocated to appropriate staff, such as costings to the finance team and so on. Tender documents should be clear, well written and bound to enhance presentation. It is also sometimes useful to produce a number of copies for internal purposes and to assist the evaluation team.

Contract award criteria

In advance of the tender process, awarding bodies must make known the criteria they intend to use to select and assess successful contractors. Criteria should be specific to individual contracts and maybe considered in terms of lowest price, or the most socially or economically advantageous.Third sector organisations should study these criteria closely and ensure that tenders meet them to as high a standard as possible.

Evaluation of tenders

Tenders are often evaluated in two stages:

  • Stage one - a technical stage to ensure the goods or services meet the specification and performance requirements.
  • Stage two - the commercial evaluation stage.

Only tenders that meet all tender requirements and specifications will be considered for acceptance. If a tender does not meet these it will be deemed invalid. These rules exist to ensure that all providers receive equal treatment when competing for public sector contracts.

Contract award

Subject to terms and conditions in the tender document, submission of a tender normally constitutes a legally binding obligation to provide goods or services. The successful tenderer will normally receive an official purchase order or other formal notification to award a contract.

If a tender has been unsuccessful, thethird sectororganisation should be notified straightaway. A slight delay may occur as the successful supplier confirms acceptance.