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Fenestration Forum – Winning public bids

Winning the tender


June 8, 2016
By Brian Burton

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The procurement policies of government agencies and publicly owned corporations require them to take reasonable steps to obtain the best value for their money and as a result most of them use variations of what is commonly known as competitive open procurement or open tendering.

It’s a very large market for fenestration products, however successfully capturing work of this nature can require considerable concentration of resources and is usually time-sensitive. It’s advisable to maintain an up-to-date proposal library that describes corporate personnel, past experience and other routine details to save time.

If you’re new to the practice visit; buyandsell.gc.ca > procurement-data > tenders > get-started.

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Submitted tenders that meet the mandatory requirements are typically evaluated and rated on the basis of what is known as technical merit. The procurement team typically follows three basic principles to establish merit. It selects the best bid that meets all their requirements with a demonstrated track record for delivering on time and on budget. Next, it selects a supplier with a valid procurement business number that meets all the technical requirements such as insurance, security clearance and also meets applicable employment standards. Price is not always the most important factor when awarding bids. While pricing is important it so is the bidder’s reputation and perceived ability to deliver on time.

 You can often improve your win rate by addressing three main criteria: basic appearance, supporting materials and by clearly demonstrating that you understand the vendor’s objectives. Of course, you also have to clearly distinguish yourself from your competitors.

“Basic appearance” asks if the proposal contents follow the instructions of the request for proposal with regard to contents and formatting. Your approach, strategy and message must be clear and concise. You should select opportunities carefully, structure your proposal to match the RFP itself and include an executive summary. Be precise and avoid overuse of buzzwords and acronyms. Explain the benefits of using your services. Ensure formatting is consistent throughout the document.

The desired outcome of the purchaser is not always entirely evident and it’s important to undertake a careful analysis of the tender if you want to improve your chances of success.

There are a few common omissions. Inadequate understanding of the buyer’s needs is one. The buyer or purchaser wants to know that you clearly understand what they often call the desired outcome. Failure to address all mandatory RFP requirements in the same order as they appear in the tender document is another common mistake. This is a very important point as in many cases the purchasing teams will review multiple submissions and yours will stand out if it is clear and properly ordered. Underestimating the time and effort required to write a winning bid proposal can lead to missed deadlines. Submitting unnecessarily long or complicated proposals can also be fatal.

Avoid the overuse of jargon and acronyms. Make sure the vocabulary is understandable to the widest possible audience. Minimize the word count and keep in mind the reviewer’s will likely read multiple submissions. Avoid run-on sentences and long meandering phrases when one or two words will suffice. Avoid merely listing features and make a point to explain the benefits the client will experience by using your products or services. Make sure your content is consistent and has been double-checked.

If necessary, ask the buyer pertinent questions to determine their true buying motives and desired outcomes. A common mistake is to promote services whether or not they meet the buyer’s needs or produce the desired outcome. You must meet all mandatory requirements or risk having your bid disqualified. If you cannot meet all of the mandatory requirements find a partner that can. And lastly it’s considered good business practice to undertake a debriefing on each submitted proposal, win or lose.


Brian is now involved with an innovative multidisciplinary firm that specializes in technical business writing: Award Bid Management Services http://award-bid-management-services.com/. The firm assists companies interested in selling goods and services to governments and institutions. He can be reached at Burton@award-bid-management.com


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