Tips for Understanding Tender Documents


At first glance, tender documents can seem incredibly complicated – and a little bit daunting - for those who are inexperienced with tendering. However, if you are interested in winning work through the tender process, it is important to get across the detail in these documents and their requirements.

Here are some tips for navigating the tender documents for your next opportunity:

Work Out What’s What

Tender documents are generally comprised of a series of documents. Sometimes these are published as one document or as multiple documents.

When you download the tender documents, the first thing you need to do is work out what each document is. Every document in the ‘package’ has a specific objective and function in the procurement process. In most cases, the tender documents will include, but not be limited to, the following:

  • Conditions of tender – this document sets out the rules for the tender process
  • Statement of requirements – this document explains what goods or services are to be purchased and the scope of these
  • Tender response schedules – this includes questions that all tenderers are asked so that a decision about who wins the contract can be made
  • Deed of agreement – this is the draft contract for the opportunity which is provided so that tenderers can understand their obligations – and that of the tendering organisation – before they decide to submit a bid.

Once you have worked out what each document is and what function it performs, it is a good idea to thoroughly read these documents. It is possible you might have to read them a few times. All the information about the tender opportunity, and what is required of tenderers, is included in the tender documents.

As you read the documents, make a note of any key information and any questions you might have.

If you don’t have a full understanding of the Deed of Agreement, it is worthwhile obtaining some legal advice about the requirements of the contract before you lodge your bid.

Find Out The Key Dates

One of the most important aspects of submitting a tender is making sure you do so by the deadline. Tenders that are submitted after the deadline are not usually evaluated. This means you could put a lot of effort into preparing your tender, for no outcome whatsoever if it is late. As a result, finding out the tender due date is critical. The due date can generally be found on the front page of the Conditions of Tender and/or the Statement of Requirements. It can also be found within the Conditions of Tender document where the procurement process and timelines are explained.

Other key dates to look out for in the tender documents are:

  • When the briefing will be held – Depending on the opportunity, a briefing may be offered as part of the tender procurement process. At the briefing, a representative from the tendering organisation usually explains the tender documents and the procurement process that will be used, and sometimes takes questions from potential tenderers. These briefings can be optional or mandatory. If you are attending a briefing, you will most probably need to follow some registration requirements which also need to occur by a set date – make sure you take note of these as well.
  • Final date for questions – A tender contact person is nominated in the tender documents should you need to ask questions or clarify any information. Sometimes the tender documents will put forward a date after which no further questions can be asked – for example, this might be three days before the tender is due. It is essential to keep track of this date so you have had the opportunity to ask all your questions before this deadline.
  • Contract start date – Most tender documents will include a contract start date. You should remain aware of this date for a number of reasons, including when working out the resourcing for your bid. If you have submitted a tender and haven’t heard any news about the tender close to or after the nominated contract start date, it is recommended to contact the tender contact person for an update on the tender evaluation and award timeline.

Establish What Needs To Be Submitted

When you are reading through the tender documents, make sure you pay close attention to what needs to be provided to the tendering organisation by the deadline.

In most cases, this will be the completed tender response schedules but can also include information such as:

  • Audited financial statements
  • Proof of business registration
  • Certificates of currency for professional indemnity, public liability, workers compensation and other insurances
  • Examples of organisational policies such as Environmental Management and Work, Health & Safety.

Additionally, make sure you understand how any pricing needs to be submitted for your bid. The pricing may be in the tender response schedules but may alternately be required in a separate document, such as an Excel worksheet that needs to be completed and submitted.

Understand How To Lodge Your Submission

Make sure you have a detailed understanding of how to lodge your tender according to the requirements. Lodgement information is commonly found in the Conditions of Tender.

This point may seem inconsequential however, submitting your tender successfully is a significant part of the tendering process – and can be particularly stressful if you don’t lodge tenders very often and you are about to lodge close to the deadline!

These days most tenders are submitted electronically through a portal or online tendering website, like those hosted on Tenders.Net. Therefore, prior to the due date, it is worthwhile making sure you are familiar with:

  • The name of the website you need to lodge your tender at
  • The password and username
  • Any requirements regarding the size of the tender document and file naming conventions
  • How to upload your tender

No other organisation throughout the world has more experience in online tendering than Tenders.Net. Our privately owned Australian company invented the concept and has provided online tendering services continuously for over 30 years.

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