Kicking around some tender writing ideas
It’s rare to see anybody in the health and care sector taking it easy. Too busy attending to those in dire need, plugging budget holes, addressing paperwork or simply rolling up their sleeves to support increasingly hard-pressed staff on the front-line. If you are in the care sector and you have ambitions to grow your business, it’s hard to imagine when you might have the time to focus on this.
And that’s why more and more care providers are seeking help from specialist tender writing companies like us. We take most of the hard work out of tendering for new business by preparing all the paperwork and ensuring you are compliant and ‘fit’ to compete. If you’ve ever seen a tender document, you’ll be aware they are not for the faint hearted – often requiring written responses that extend into thousands of words (and that’s just question one!)
That said, if you’ve managed to clear time in your schedule to attempt putting together a tender proposal yourself, here are some tips to point you in the right direction:
- Stay aware and vigilant. New tendering opportunities are released all the time. Familiarise yourself with the main tender portals that cover your particular sector and locale – and visit them regularly. Government tender portals provide good hunting grounds, but there are plenty of others too that are worth checking out.
- To use a footballing analogy – a tender is a game of two halves. But in order to continue playing into the second half of the game, you need to produce a stellar performance in the first half to convince the manager (commissioners) not to sub you. Err, let’s kick out that analogy – doesn’t really work and I’ll start to struggle when I describe the points scoring bit.
So, part one of tendering for a public sector contract is the Selection Questionnaire (SQ) – sometimes this can be as bulky as the actual full tender document that follows it. The purpose of the SQ is to establish whether your company is a good fit for the service that is being tendered for. It will cover important questions relating to your suitability and experience for the role and is there to filter out the Neymars from the fourth division pretenders (sorry).
- If you manage to pass the SQ stage, you then move on to the Invitation to Tender (ITT). This basically means that the commissioners like the look of you from the SQ and want to learn more about you. This places you in a strong position for successfully winning the tender, and should be recognised for the good opportunity it represents. The questions in the ITT ramp it up in terms of difficulty. Whereas the SQ is there to establish if you are suitably qualified to carry out the tender and can demonstrate 100 per cent compliance – the ITT is more concerned with the nitty gritty, the detail of how exactly you are going to deliver the contract. The more detail, evidenced experience, credibility and innovation you can fit into your method statements (answers), the better. Commissioners aren’t complicated creatures – they just want to be satisfied that you can do the job.
- Finally, here’s a bit of a scoop for you that, if you’re clever, could give you an edge when writing your tender. A tender document is broken down into sections and each question is scored points under various criteria, usually out of five. It is your aim to score as highly as possible across every section. As the leading UK tender writers specialising in the social care sector, we at Insequa are first to detect new directions in commissioning behaviour. We have noticed a definite shift in emphasis and greater importance placed on the social value offering a care provider can deliver. “What’s social value?” I hear you all cry. Fear not, it’s nothing too complicated – it’s just their grand way of describing what all good social care providers do already without realising – that’s giving back to the local area through employment, community initiatives, promoting cohesion, using local suppliers, environmental leads and other positive, area-friendly programmes. Like I said, you’re probably already delivering social value in a big way, but you heard it here first, make sure you don’t undersell yourselves. Tell them all about the brilliant stuff you do in the local community. And if you need a Social Value Policy, or any other policy in fact, relating to social care, to reinforce your tender application – we have over a hundred to choose from here at Insequa, all presented in our innovative and engaging Instructional Design format.
If all this feels a little bit daunting, or maybe you don’t have the time or head-space to focus on it right now – give us a call at Insequa. When it comes to tender writing for social care contracts, we understand all the jargon and we have vast experience of the process. Give us a call for a friendly chat and we’ll kick around a few ideas… 0115 896 3999