UK Civil Engineering
Posted By Kittle Associates Ltd on 23/08/2017

Secret of Preparing Civil Engineering Tenders

Secret of Preparing Civil Engineering Tenders

We all know that tenders for civil engineering schemes and projects are complex and time-consuming to complete. Public sector clients in particular often want to know very detailed information about your approach to design and development works, health and safety, environmental management, supply chains, and how you will work collaboratively with them, other suppliers and wider stakeholders.  

While the types of questions are often similar in nature, organisations that try and use 'boiler plate' responses from previous tenders or sales literature are in my experience often disappointed when they are not short-listed. In today's ever competitive world, evaluators often have the pick of several large and reputable companies to choose from. Gone are the days where reputation and relationship (as important as they are!) won contracts. What distinguishes companies these days comes down to what is written down in the bids. 

Bids therefore need to be carefully planned and well-presented to catch the evaluators' attention. Poorly prepared ones will undoubtedly also catch their attention, but for all the wrong reasons! 

Of course, by far the best way to ensure your bids hit the mark is to employ the services of bid writing professionals who are experienced in creating the compelling case for you and your services, and to present it in a way where you are shown to be innovative. However, for those who have perhaps not yet used professional writers, here are 10 tips to improve the way you present your bids: 

  1. Ensure you understand the questions asked by your client and answer them clearly and succinctly. Do not assume your client means something different to what is asked by including information not requested. It is irrelevant and suggests arrogance. Instead, ask yourself, what does the question say and what am I being asked to evidence? Then stick to that in your response.
  2. Comply to the letter with instructions provided by your client. If responses must be no more than 200 words, ensure they are no more than 200 words, not 201. At the same time, ensure you use the limit provided. As a rule of thumb, you should come within 10% of the limit.
  3. Always put your client first in your responses and talk about benefits, not features, of your service or product. Ask yourself, have I mentioned the client more than my own company? If not, go back and re-write your answers.
  4. Provide evidence of how you will deliver a service not just what you will do. If you do provide appendices, keep them to a minimum and ensure supplementary information is indexed and placed as close to the question as possible to make it easy to find.
  5. Write your responses in plain English. Avoid jargon and so-called ‘management speak’ at all costs. Most evaluators will only have time to read your work once. If they do not understand exactly what you are saying on the first read, you are likely to have lost them. Do not give them an excuse to mark you down.
  6. Use short sentences. Enough said.
  7. Give yourself plenty of time to write the bid, consult others who will give you critical feedback  and then re-draft it. Never try and prepare a bid the night before it is due for submission. It is surprising how easy it is to spot such work!.
  8. Check spelling and grammar carefully. Mistakes suggest a slap-dash approach. Random capitalisation and the incorrect use of punctuation are just annoying.
  9. Try different ways to break up your text with headers, bullet points and graphics. Pictures really do speak a thousand words, but ensure they are simple to understand and augment what you are saying.
  10. Pay attention to formatting. Well-presented work demonstrates attention to detail and a caring approach. Do not be afraid of white space as it makes it easier to skim read and to absorb information.

For lots more top tips on how to prepare winning bids, check out the blog on our website (

If you are fed up with the stress of bidding, you want to increase your win rate, or you just want a general chat about your approach to bids, give us a call on 01491 902021 or drop us a line at

Alan Kittle is the Managing Director of Kittle Associates Ltd, a bid writing consultancy with specific experience of the civil engineering and construction sectors.

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