Bidding on tenders: A Best Practice overview

Today we’re going to discuss one of the strongest weapons in your quiver when you’re bidding on tenders: an ISO quality management system. The business world is evolving rapidly, and in the day and age of start-ups becoming billion-dollar companies overnight, there has arguably never been a more competitive landscape to be operating in. So what can your business do to make more effective bids on future tenders? It may seem more difficult than ever, but the solution is a simple, straightforward one. We’ll look at government tenders as an example. When it comes to bidding on government tenders in particular, it’s more vital than ever before to have already implemented a QMS. We’ve talked previously that the government is beginning to favor businesses that are taking into account their environmental impacts, due to their own need to reduce the national environmental footprint. This hasn’t necessarily been spearheaded by the government, but there is an observable trend in terms of who gets the tender; nine times out of ten, it’s one that’s mentioned in the process that they have a quality management system that is purring away in the background, making the organization a more well-oiled machine. Let’s move on to the reason why those who are running the tendering process prefer to work with organizations that have implemented systems like ISO9001, 14001, 27001 or ISO45001. To put it simply, your business – when it’s equipped with a quality management system – is a significantly more attractive prospect than a business that hasn’t taken the time out to improve their own systems. It sends a message to your clients – and those considering your business in the tendering process – that you’ve made a commitment to improving various aspects of your business, be them efficiency improvements, environmental considerations, regular updates to your IT security or your safety policies. More often than not, like in this case under the ‘conditions for participation’, compliance with a number of workplace standards is required for the applicant to be eligible to compete. This is going to become standard practice more and more, and exemplifies the trend from those putting out tenders working considerably more with organizations that are compliant with a number of standards. For them, it’s more than a shiny feather in your cap, it’s a sign that you’ve taken initiative to get certified, and have benefitted from the lessons learnt in the process.

Put yourself in the shoes of the person/s that have to make the end decision, using the example of an upcoming tender for large-scale wind farm. If you’ve got 10 applicants, half of which are equipped with a quality management system like ISO14001, it stands to reason that you’ll push those applicants without certification into the bin first. There’s a million factors considered by those in the decision making position on tenders, and a QMS won’t be the only thing that’ll get you over the line, but it is something that you’ll need to emphasize the fact that you are committed to consistent improvement. Now, it’s time to consider how you can leverage your ISO certification. The process is dense, we understand, but make an effort to consider your unique selling point (USP). Your USP is not necessarily your quality management system, but it could be made up by the things you’ve learnt in the certification process, the problems you’ve solved or the efficiencies you’ve maximized. Overall, your USP can be strengthened by your point of difference with your competitors; perhaps one isn’t considering their environmental impacts. In your documentation applying for that tender, make a conscientious effort to drive home the point that your business is plotting a course toward consistent improvement in a variety of areas; this is exactly what ISO systems are requiring you to do… so why not leverage that when you’re in the process of bidding on tenders? In wrapping up, we’d like to drive home the point that if you’ve done the hard work in getting certified in whichever field, the process of bidding for tenders is too competitive for you not to leverage your certification as both a unique selling point, and a point of difference over your competitors. Again, in isolation it won’t be enough to get you over the line, but if your business is actively engaging with the ISO requirements, and taking the advice of auditors like ours at Best Practice, you’re standing on much more steady ground than businesses without.

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