Death by Tender: Why your engineering and construction firm is spending too much time, energy and money on tender responses...

Article By

Peter Wilkinson

Director - Tipping Point Advisory

Right now the engineering and construction market is pretty hot and most firms I’m in contact with report that their in-boxes are full of inquiries and Requests for Tender (and please let me know if this is not your current reality as we really should have a conversation about that…..).

The pressing issues that are most commonly showing up at this time are (a) how to choose the right Tenders to respond to and (b) how to properly investigate and fully understand the background to and context of the opportunities that are the right ones to go for. As you’ve most probably guessed, items (a) and (b) are quite interrelated!

This is, in essence the “width and depth” challenge. When is the right time to take a step back and evaluate the landscape of tenders on offer? When is it critical to focus on a key target or two that you know are just beyond the horizon but have yet to materialise?

The biggest mistake I’m actually seeing played out right now is avoidance behaviour: Let’s avoid working through the “width and depth” challenge and just respond as best we can for everything that’s showing up. It’s just a numbers game right? If our Win Rate is 1 in 10 we just need to submit ten Tenders to win the next job!

In my experience that’s a sure-fire way to winning exactly the WRONG job for your company, the job that’s low-profit, loss-making or in disastrous circumstances that “10th Project” that blows your business up! That’s not to consider the time and money your company has toasted in preparing a string of losing submissions. You might also like to check in with your tendering and estimating team and remind yourself of how soul-destroying this feels.

So take the time now to consider what key tendering targets your business needs to be committed to winning. And don’t be seduced by the “ready fire aim” cult of just getting your stuff out there and seeing who will accept your offers – rest assured there’s still a place in this fast-paced industry for a bit of old-fashioned strategic planning.

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