Jean’s Tender/Submission Brief Checklist outlines what to look in a Brief if you are preparing a response document – and, as importantly, what to make sure you cover if you are preparing a Brief to invite tender/submission responses.
Reading or writing a Brief requires and deserves intense concentration. Therefore, allow adequate time for this early step in deciding whether to respond – or this early step in deciding whether to invite responses.
The tender/submission Brief – sometimes referred to as the bid document or specification – is a document (or set of documents) prepared by the outsourcer or funding source to detail the specifications against which a tender/submission will be assessed. A Brief can be a number of separate booklets or documents available for a non-refundable fee, it can be a few pages – or it can be anything in between. Reading or writing a tender/submission Brief is rarely light work!
When you are drafting a Brief, put yourself in the shoes of the respondees or applicants.
Anticipate the range of queries they may have as they read and try their best to understand your requirements. If you write your Brief in such a way that it addresses all anticipated queries, you will save yourself and the respondees or applicants a lot of time and emotional uncertainty in their preparation - and improve the basis for your assessment procedure. This seems to me to be an investment for all concerned.
Here’s a Checklist of what to look for when first reading a Brief, or what to make sure is included when you are writing a Brief:
- background and role of the organisation – and reason for – inviting the response or application
- aim or purpose, specifications and required outputs and outcomes of your requirements
- eligibility to tender or submit
- assessment or selection criteria and procedure
- timeframe, logistics and milestones relating to your requirements
- notional budget
- value statement, including value-add
- constraints, restrictions, limitations
- standards and quality of component, product, service, procedure, process, capabilities, capacity, expertise, etc
- legislative or statutory requirements to be met and maintained throughout the contract or agreement period – including performance, quality or service standards
- mandatory requirements – as separate from non-mandatory requirements
- contract or agreement terms and conditions, including payments, dispute resolution, variations, termination, etc
- terminology, specifications, assessment criteria, conditions and timelines
- project management details, including reporting requirements, throughout the contract or agreement period
- requirements to ensure a conforming response document
- deadline and procedure for lodging the response document or application
- commencement date and procedure for implementation through the contract or agreement period
Difficulties in reading or writing a tender/submission brief
In many cases, different sections of the Brief are prepared by different persons, or culled from earlier Briefs prepared for completely different types of projects. This makes for difficult reading, with potential respondees or applicants having to rely on guesswork or their own experience.
The reason for this is obvious – the Brief has not been edited!
The section in a Brief headed Selection or assessment can be very specific – yet when you turn over a few more pages into another section, you can find statements which obviously should have been included in the selection and assessment section.
When reading through a Brief – or editing the final draft of a Brief – highlight similar details as you read. For example, any statements or requirements that directly or vaguely relate to standards, cost, delivery, timelines, selection/assessment, due date, method of lodging your response document, etc. Use different coloured highlights for different categories of detail.
I have been closely involved with reading and writing tender/submission briefs for more than 30 years – take advantage of this experience, and check out my books and e-books – which are now available at no cost: email me if you are interested.