Tendering is a difficult, but essential part of a construction contracting business. However, shortages of work have resulted in bidding for new projects becoming even more competitive and cutthroat.
Tendering is much more than a list of services - more often, it is about relationships and the confidence to deliver both on time and on budget. Here are 7 key things to consider when putting together any project tender.
1 - Compliance
Compliance is an essential box to tick both on your end and the client’s. Throughout your bid you should make sure that the processes, resources and ideas you propose meet your health and safety requirements. This includes everything from ensuring you have enough labour and they have adequate breaks, to using the most up-to-date reporting methods.
Depending on the project scope you may also need to cover Environmental Management and a watertight GDPR statement. It’s not enough for you to know that your proposal is complaint - make it clear that you’ve considered it from every angle, explain how it is compliant and what factors depend on keeping it that way.
2 - Length & Requirements
One question everyone wants to know the answer to: How long will it take?
It’s a loaded question. Too long and you might lose out to someone else, too short and you might seem naive or unprepared. With particularly big schemes there may even be some public and political scrutiny. An inaccurate forecast leading to costly delays could damage your reputation.
Break the project down into phases and explain exactly how you will complete each phase, including completion date. Create tables with specifications and numerical data, using previous project data to inform your estimation.
3 - Cost
Following on from your timeline, use historic data to estimate the cost of each project phase and show how you came to that figure - including labour, plant and material requirements.
Focus not on delivering at the lowest cost but at the most value. Clients are committed to delivering a successful project, which means quality and longevity above all. If applicable, emphasise benefits such as quality, reliability, lifetime cost and risk reduction to justify your costs.
Look back on similar projects to get a clearer view of the project cost. It’s important that the job be viable to you too - don’t run the risk of pricing yourself too low in order to win tenders, and ultimately losing income as a result.
4 - Supply Chain
If you plan to use subcontractors to help deliver the project, list who they are and what special skills they have to offer. Make sure you explain exactly what each subcontractor will be responsible for and what level of involvement they have. Take note of their reputation or whether they have worked with the client before, as this will affect your bid.
5 - Terms & Conditions
A clear understanding of the Contract is pivotal to the success of any project, make sure that you are clear on payment terms, liabilities and risk ownership. Now is the time to negotiate any changes and help avoid the difficult conversations down the line.
6 - Present New Ideas & Approaches
Many of the big UK clients, like Network Rail, are actively prioritising innovation as they tender for new projects. Innovation is about finding new approaches that create value - not necessarily the flashiest new piece of equipment or technology, but improving key areas such as safety, cost, time or reliability.
From replacing old processes with new technology to just implementing a new safety feature, if you’re driving change within your projects you should shout about it within your tender. Make sure you focus on the results of innovation, including practical application to previous works.
7 - Evidence Everything
More than anything, clients need to have confidence in your ability to deliver the project within the timeframe, budget and level of quality that you say you will. Avoid vague statements or rough estimates. Every section, every statement should be back up and evidenced by data.
In conclusion, tendering for construction projects is a challenging process that requires careful consideration of several key factors. From compliance and cost estimation to supply chain management and innovation, each element must be approached with attention to detail and supported by evidence. By utilizing tools such as Raildiary's data collection and analysis software, contractors can improve their accuracy and confidence in bidding for projects. A successful tender will not only secure work but also build valuable client relationships and pave the way for future opportunities.