What Is a Bid?

You may have heard of bidding but not know a lot about it.  Here are some common questions and answers that will help raise your awareness of what a bid is.

What is a bid?

A bid is a response to an Invitation to Tender or a Request for a Proposal.

What sort of organisations invite bids?

Public sector organisations are legally obligated to put their purchases of goods and services (above minimum thresholds) out to tender.  The private sector often invites proposals from a number of potential providers  … these can sometimes be in bid form.

How can I find out about public sector bids?

In Scotland, you can register free of charge on the Public Contracts Scotland website.  In England, you can use’s Contracts Finder website.  Wales and Northern Ireland also have their own procurement websites.  You will receive notifications of tender opportunities within the disciplines in which you have expressed interest.

What about private sector bids?

There is no requirement to publicly advertise these opportunities.  In the main, you will need to rely on your business development and networking opportunities to find out about these.  If there is a company that you want to work for, make contact with them and ask them if you can be considered for inclusion on their Approved List of Suppliers.

I’ve heard that there is a lot of work involved with a bid with no guarantee of success?

How much work is involved will vary depending on the client, the size and complexity of the requirement.  On the plus side, winning a tendered bid can provide your business with guaranteed income, usually for a number of years.  It can also open doors to other tendered and non-tendered work.

What sort of information are clients looking for?

Most will want to know something about your credentials, your experience, company insurances, health and safety policy, etc.  They will then need you to demonstrate your understanding of their specific requirements.

How is the bid evaluated?

Usually on a mixture of Price and Quality e.g. 40% Price; 60% Quality.  The lowest priced bid will often receive maximum marks for Price with other bids being scored on a pro rata basis.  Quality questions are like mini essays e.g. Describe your approach to customer service.  They are scored against published criteria – the best answers will demonstrate an understanding of the client and their specific requirements.

Is there just one stage in a bid?

Sometimes.  Other bids will be taken through a number of stages – a bit like a job interview process.  Pre Qualification Questionnaires can be used to produce a short-list of qualified bidders.  Interviews, Presentations and Site Visits are later stages that can be used to arrive at a final preferred bidder.

Can I get feedback on my bid?

When bidding to the public sector, unsuccessful bidders are entitled to get feedback on their bid including on the scoring and what differentiated the winning bidder from the unsuccessful bid.  Winning bidders should also request feedback – knowing what went down well and what didn’t resonate with the client will be very helpful for future bids.  Whilst the private sector does not have a legal requirement to provide feedback, procurement teams are usually willing to give written or verbal feedback.