The Tendering Process - Simplified
Tendering for government and private sector work in Australia can seem immensely complex for those who are unfamiliar with it. There are documents, deadlines, site briefings, rules to follow and a myriad of other tasks to track and manage. However, if you want to win work with a particular organisation or government entity, or have a great product or service to sell to these organisations, then tendering is a process you will need to master.
This article explains the process used for tendering in Australia and simplifies it for those who are new to tendering. It demystifies some of the language and practices that are used. After reading this, the process used for tenders in Australia should be easier to understand.
What is tendering?
Essentially, tendering is the process of inviting suppliers to provide goods or services to an organisation who wants to buy them. It is most often used by government (in Australia there are three levels of government – local councils, state governments and the Commonwealth or Australian Government) or by larger public owned organisations, such as financial institutions and utilities.
The invitation is in the form of written documents and is generally called a Request for Tender (RFT). Other terms for this invitation used in Australia are Approach to Market (ATM), Request for Proposal (RFP) or Request for Quotation (RFQ). The invitation usually comprises a series of documents - called the tender documents - which include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Conditions of tender
- Statement of requirements
- Tender response form
- Deed of agreement
The organisation that wishes to buy the products or services publishes these documents and asks potential suppliers to put together a written bid to provide their product or service. This written bid is called a tender.
What is a tender?
A tender is a written document from a supplier which offers a product or service for a fee. It comprises responses to questions that are asked in the tender documents. These questions are different for every tendering process, however can include requests for information about:
- Your organisation
- The product or service you wish to sell
- The price you wish to sell your products and services for
- Your organisation's experience in providing these products and services
- Your financial status
- Your organisation's willingness to accept the contract terms
Why do government and some private sector organisations use tendering?
Government and some private sector organisation use tendering for a range of reasons. Mainly it is because they have a need for a particular product or service and currently don’t have this specific product or capability within their organisation.
The process of buying products and services for an organisation is called procurement. As a result, it is often the aptly named procurement division or department within an organisation that is responsible for organising and running the tendering process.
By inviting tenders from suppliers and asking a set of questions that all suppliers provide answers to in the tendering process, the procurement department is able to review these responses, compare the answers from one supplier to another, and make a decision on who should be awarded a contract to provide the product or service required. This procedure is called the tender evaluation.
The tendering process and the evaluation take place according to a set of rules which are determined before the invitation to suppliers is made. These rules are set out in the Conditions of Tender (which is part of the tender documents). These rules must be followed by all suppliers who submit a bid and by the evaluation team to ensure the tendering process is fair and only suppliers who can provide a product or service which meets the required specification are selected.
How do I find out about tendering opportunities?
Most government organisations in Australia publish RFT information and the accompanying tender documents on specific tendering websites. The Australian Government, each state government in Australia and most local councils across Australia have their own customised website which lists their tendering opportunities and helps manage aspects of their tendering process online. Some of these are run by third parties, such as Tenders.Net who were the pioneers and are experts in online tendering.
It is possible to sign up to each of these websites, by providing your email address, to find out about tendering opportunities as they arise. However, depending on the product or service you are selling, you will probably receive many notifications from different sources by email. This can be confusing and difficult to keep track of, particularly if you are busy running a business.
Email subscription services – a better way to identify opportunities
Many businesses prefer to identify tendering opportunities by purchasing a tender subscription service, like Tenders.Net. These email subscription services review all the tendering opportunities available in a given location (including, for example, all of Australia), every day, using a keyword search or by industry category. Any tenders which match these keywords or industry category are emailed to you. This means you get one email with all tendering opportunities that may be of interest to you, rather than multiple emails. This can save a lot of valuable time!
For further information about Tenders.Net and how we can assist you in identifying the right tendering opportunities for your business, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.