The importance of an effective Executive Summary

Everyone reads the Executive Summary. This is where the evaluation panel gets an overview of your entire submission and form their first impressions.  Given this, it is surprising how often companies don’t pay enough attention to this critical opening statement.

What constitutes an effective Executive Summary in a tender bid?

Executive Summaries should demonstrate a clear understanding of the client’s requirements; real comprehension, not just a regurgitation of the requirements in the  tender documents. Most evaluation panels pick this up pretty quickly and start doubting your ability to do the job satisfactorily.

A good Executive Summary succinctly describes how your product or service provides an effective solution to the organisation’s requirements. Be as clear and accurate as possible here. Avoid hyperbole and making claims about the benefits for society if you are awarded the project. This may be important for the Minister’s press release that announces the contract but it is not relevant to the evaluation team and the job they have to do.

For example, a project I was involved with invited vendors to give presentations to the evaluation panel as a way of clarifying certain ambiguities in their proposals. One company made claims that selecting them as the preferred supplier would deliver a range of unquantifiable and non-specific benefits to the broader community. This theme was consistent with their written submission.

The “societal benefits” were dismissed by the panel members as being irrelevant and if anything the vendor did themselves a disservice. Remember, the panel is only interested in the facts on how your product will perform and any risks associated with selecting it as the preferred solution. Your company’s track record as a stable and reliable provider can certainly be highlighted because the government is keen to know that you have the corporate stamina to endure for the duration of the contract. They are very wary of the additional costs associated with finding another supplier should the original provider go out of business.

You should also describe the infrastructure and alliances you have in place to support your product or service, particularly now that government agencies are starting to take a whole-of-life perspective to projects.

This may all sound fundamental but it is surprising how many companies miss the opportunity to show they really understand the requirements, describe their solution and demonstrate that they have the corporate stamina and alliances to provide support for the duration of the project. After all, first impressions are lasting impressions.