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5 tips to avoid a non-compliant tender

March 10, 2018

Procurement officials are bound by numerous policies, procedures, laws, and rules in the execution of their duties to procure goods and services. These rules apply not only to your proposed offer and credentials as a supplier, but also the written submission itself.

Often, the first step to evaluation is disqualification of a tender response on grounds of non-compliance.

Follow these 5 tips to ensure your tender is not excluded from consideration.

  1. Attention to detail: Tendering is often a complex and rushed process, which makes it highly susceptible to errors or oversight. If this happens, a tender response can be judged as non-admissible for evaluation. It’s important that you read the tender documents and associated conditions of contract carefully. Seek clarification in writing of any questions you may have – be aware that question periods may be time limited and that answers will be on record and shared; attend any briefing sessions when available; avoid responding with an answer ‘noted and agreed / or read and understood’ – you must address every question or statement with an answer that is to the point, and which demonstrates your organisation’s understanding of the customers’ needs. Don’t include irrelevant material or marketing material – these are usually unwelcome.
  2. Address all mandatory requirements: The tender specifications will identify whether each requirement is mandatory or desirable, usually on a clause by clause basis. Mandatory requirements may include delivery, technical requirements, pricing or performance requirements and expected timeframes. They may also include compliance with all acts, regulations, licenses, accreditations, standards and codes. In addressing the mandatory requirements you must provide evidence of how well you can deliver the service or contract.
  3. Complete all documentation: To remove the risk of your tender getting set aside because you didn’t answer a question, ensure you address every question – fill out all sections, Schedules or Attachments according to the invitation document, and ensure it is signed and dated. Pay special attention to any fine print instructions, such as noting receipt of any Addenda and their dates of issue; font sizes; file size, format, word count and/or page limitations.
  4. Conditions of contract: Be aware that non-conformances (ie. clauses you disagree with) in relation to the draft contract or specifications may be considered as part of the evaluation / decision criteria – but there might also be room to negotiate variations to the terms of the contract before signing. It’s important to only accept terms if it is able to be delivered, otherwise it could leave you open to contract cessation or worse – legal damages – for a non-compliant contract.
  5. Respect the process: There are many process rules around tendering, including deadline and lodging of the submission; protocols for answering and distributing questions, as well as amendments made during the open period. Rules of probity also place strict rules around confidentiality, transparency, and accountability, including bans on entertainment and the acceptance of gifts.

In short, evaluators should consider submissions unless they have failed to meet a mandatory requirement identified in the specification, or failed to demonstrate an alternative means of providing the outputs and outcomes required. To remove the risk of your tender or bid getting set aside because you didn’t answer the questions properly may not guarantee success, but should keep you in the race.

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