Taking the Fast Lane to RFT Success
Reviewing a new Request for Tender (RFT) can be overwhelming with all the details and legalese making it difficult to identify the key pieces of information you need to provide. Having both drafted and analysed lots of RFTs in my time within various government agencies, let me give you a few tips on how to identify the key areas so you can move confidently into the writing phase.
Tip 1: Clear the mandatory requirements first
These are usually pretty straightforward but like the name implies you need to make sure you have them covered.
Conditions of Participation – these are usually items such as:
- using English in your submission;
- expressing all prices in Australian currency;
- not being named as failing to comply with the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act; or
- not being bankrupt or insolvent.
These should be easy for most companies but every now and then there are real constraints that require having a particular licence, accreditation or skills e.g. quality management and OHS systems. If you haven’t got these items in place then save your time and money and go no further.
Now there are other mandatory items you will need to provide such as the insurance cover, Tenderers Details and Tenderers Declaration but they are just formalities and offer little chance to position your company as the best supplier.
Tip 2: Statement of Requirements
Pay particular attention to this section because this is where the Agency tells you what its needs are. In most cases they won’t tell you specifically what they want, for example, five metre boats with 80hp outboard motors. Rather, they will describe the context and the job they want done (move groups of up to four passengers and materials between islands in the Torres Strait quickly and reliably) and leave you to come up with the final solution and product specifications.
Tip 3: Assessment criteria
These are the key to success. Yes, you may be able to meet their requirements but unless you do a thorough job addressing the assessment criteria your score will be low and you will not win. I may be stating the obvious here but many times companies pay only scant attention to the criteria by providing a short paragraph or two and then referring the Evaluation Panel to other sections of their tender for more detailed information. This is tendering suicide.
Tip 4: Response format
Be mindful of how the Agency wants you to structure your response. You will often find this in a section titled something like Minimum Content and Format Requirements. In good RFTs they stipulate a set format; many give you templates and pricing schedules to fill in. They do this to make it easy for the Evaluation Panel to assess what each supplier is offering and because evaluators really don’t like having to sift through your tender trying to find information that supports your claims. If they have to search too much you risk them switching off and awarding lower assessment scores to your tender.
Tip 5: What about the other stuff?
Do you need to consider other bits and pieces such as Terms and Conditions of the Draft Contract, joint tenders, Conflict of Interest, the Commonwealth’s policy requirements and the myriad of other items that go into RFTs? Sure, you need to be aware of them, but they generally don’t change much from one agency to the next; and by and large they won’t be major factors in who emerges as the preferred supplier.
Avoid the chaos and take the fast lane
Put most of your attention and effort on the key points I have raised above; particularly Tips 2 and 3, and you will go straight to the heart of the RFT and more easily lodge a really competitive tender. It is a little like getting to drive in the bus lanes while the rest of the traffic jostle about in the remaining lanes trying to find a way through to their destinations.