How to apply for public tenders

Once you understand how public tenders work, and how to find them, the next step is to learn how to apply for public tenders.

How to apply for public tenders

The public tendering process is highly structured and, as a result, understanding the steps involved is important for those seeking procurement opportunities.

Successful public tender applications follow this specific series of steps:

  • Identify a relevant opportunity
  • Make sure you can fulfil the requirements of the tender
  • Express interest to the buyer
  • Complete the Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ)
  • Invitation to tender (ITT) is issued
  • Submit full tender response



How to apply for public tenders

Identify relevant opportunities

The first step is to identify relevant opportunities and we have outlined how to find public tenders here.


Make sure you can fulfil the requirements of the tender

Once you’ve identified a relevant opportunity, the next step is to thoroughly read the specification and ensure that your organisation can fulfil the requirements of the tender.

BiP Solutions’ Ultimate Guide to Winning Public Tenders does an excellent job of summarising the questions and considerations you should be thinking about at this stage of the process, which might include:

• Does my organisation meet or exceed the technical skills and experience required?
• Does the work fit in with the strategy and positioning of my organisation?
• Can my organisation afford the time and resource required to bid, even if we don’t win?
• Pay attention to the evaluation criteria and weightings that will be used to score responses, which will tell you which elements are most important to the buyer, and what they will be assessing.
• Make sure your proposal is for what the buyer wants, not what you want to deliver, or have provided previously.


Express interest to the buyer

Once you have found an opportunity and are confident that your organisation can fulfil the terms of the contract, the next step is to show the buyer that you’re interested. This involves a formal response to the buyer which is known as an ‘expression of interest’.

This stage is straightforward and simply involves contacting the buying authority and requesting the full documentation or downloading it yourself if it is available electronically.

If your opportunity uses the single-stage Open procedure, you will go be asked to submit a full tender at this point. However, for the vast majority of opportunities, buyers use the Restricted procedure or equivalent two-stage procedure to whittle down the number of applicants before the tender stage. Once you have the documentation, you will move on to the next stage in the process.


Pre-Qualification Questionnaire

The next stage in the process is to prepare your response. You’re already aware of what the requirements are, having thoroughly read the tender, and ensured that your organisation can fulfil them.

At this stage, the buyer will send out a Selection Questionnaire/Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) to obtain further information which can aid the selection process. To streamline the process, the Government has released a Standardised Selection Questionnaire (SQ) document, which is available to view here.


Invitation to Tender

After the PQQ has been received, it will be assessed, evaluated and scored by the buying authority against their weighted scoring criteria. You will know what these criteria are in advance. Make sure you consider the weightings allocated to each section when preparing your response.

If you are successful at this stage, you will join the buyer’s shortlist. You will be given an Invitation to Tender (ITT) which is a formal notification from an organisation inviting a supplier to submit a full tender response.

Submitting your tender response

Read our guide: how to write a tender response that really wins.

You’ve been through the initial steps in the procurement process – from finding a contract of interest, identifying your ability to fulfil this work, right through to expressing an interest. The buying authority has weighed up your application and agreed that you have the resources to fulfil their contract requirements and they invite you to tender. Now comes the final, most important, step in the process – submitting your tender response.

Writing and submitting your full tender response is where the contract is won or lost, so make sure your organisation invests the necessary time and resources to ensure that it is as good as it can be and stands out. Consider creating a ‘bid team’ comprised of a member of staff from each relevant department to help you create a thorough and comprehensive bid. Don’t be shy about selling yourself, and explain the benefits of your offer as clearly and simply as possible.

After it has been received, your tender will be scored by the buying organisation to decide if you are the best fit to provide the services that are required.

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