Laying the Foundations for a Winning Construction Bid

There are many opportunities in the private and public sectors to tender to deliver construction services. Similar principles apply to both, and following these tips will increase your prospects of success.

Passing the qualification stage

The first hurdle you need to negotiate safely is the qualification stage, which looks back at what you have achieved and where you are now. Prospective clients will be looking at your track record of similar successful projects, that you completed them on time, budget, to a high-quality, and, most importantly, safely. You will be asked to provide details of clients who will give references.

This stage also involves looking at your economic and financial standing, credit rating, and accounts, particularly relevant because of the downturn resulting from the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic. You will need to provide information about your insurances, accreditations (such as safety schemes and ISO accreditations – or their equivalents – including 9001, 14001, and 45001).

Tender stage

Once you have successfully passed the qualification stage, it’s a look forward with the buyer wanting to understand how you plan to deliver the contract for them, their stakeholders, and their end-users. Your responses will need to be tailored to the client(s), whether it’s a Framework or Dynamic Purchasing System. The procurement panel will score you on your technical/quality responses and method statements. The scoring and weighting will be set out in the documents, but make sure you give every question your full attention and effort!

Your responses must answer the question and cover broader issues, including risk management and innovation, and be written specifically for that organisation, opportunity, and end-user.

Assurance about quality

Every potential client will want assurance that you will provide a high-quality service to them. So, tell the story of your quality management systems (materials and works), quality control arrangements, supervision, how you identify and rectify issues to achieve zero defects at handover, your joint quality review with clients, and the quality culture in your company. Make sure you have examples written ready to bring this to life.

ISO accreditation demonstrates your commitment to quality, so do the awards you’ve won or been nominated for. Apply for industry awards with your clients or partners to show your shared pride in your work.

Show you are ready to mobilise

Besides quality services, clients want to be confident that you are ready to mobilise when they award the work. Your response will talk about your capacity, mobilisation plans, and the priority given to this work. Again, provide examples from previous projects, name the key people who will run the contract – and explain why you have the best people to do this – have a clear, stated mobilisation plan.

Set out your risk management plan, including how you will deliver in the current climate with COVID-19 still an issue, potential reduction in labour available from the EU, currency fluctuations, and potential disruption to supplies from both COVID-19 and the Brexit trade deal.

If your operating model includes sub-contractors, set out how you select, quality check, manage, performance manage, and remove them, demonstrating your supply chain management strengths. If you operate with a large in-house team, make sure you explain how you will have the resources to deliver this contract. Will you recruit? Is another contract ending? Do you have a pool of labour to draw on? If you outsource essential trade or specialist services, set out how you select and manage them.

Remember to set out how you source materials and will deal with any supply disruptions due to COVID-19 or any difficulties getting supplies from the EU. You should also include your commitment to sustainable sourcing, both ethically and environmentally.

Detail your credentials as a great employer with fair working practices. Confirm that you pay the Living Wage, have an employee assistance programme in place, promote well-being and positive mental health, and operate a robust health and safety culture.

Impress with your innovation

The construction sector has been slower than others to embrace innovation and new technology. Set yourself apart by talking about what you’ve done, whether it’s modern methods of construction, BIM, robotics, efficiencies, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality, or artificial intelligence (AI). Give examples of how this innovation has delivered tangible outcomes for your clients and end-users.

Working with other stakeholders

Bidders are frequently asked how they will work with stakeholders, including consultants, clients, and the local community. Have examples and case studies prepared to showcase your successful approach. Share with them your stakeholder mapping and communication plans and how these have been effective.

Delivering Social Value

The social value you commit to delivering should be proportionate to the value of the project. You will need to talk about how you measure and report on the social value you create, what impacts you’ve achieved, the jobs you’ve created – and will for this project – and how you support community organisations where you work. You should set out your general achievements, and give specifics for this tender opportunity (you will be measured against these in the future).

When you think about leaving a legacy, remember not to just helicopter in and out of an area, leaving no lasting benefits behind. Clients will be looking for local employment and training opportunities to be created, particularly among under-represented groups in construction.

To give you the best prospects for winning more work, talk to us about how we can add value, review your bids, or work alongside you to deliver stronger customer-focused proposals.