The recent announcement Central Government will ring-fence $11B for infrastructure projects has been quickly followed by allocation of a $102M Tourism Fund. Paula Bennett, Minister for Tourism, has advised local councils will be able to apply for funding to develop tourism infrastructure such as carparks, i-Site visitor centres, sewerage and toilet facilities. However, she also noted ratepayers would be expected to contribute to project costs, as well.
So, once councils secure their slice of this funding, how will your business win its share of contracts, when they go out to tender?
The best place to start is to acknowledge that tendering to local government clients is a specialised area. Knowing this upfront is half the battle. With that thought in mind, you should consider the following as you prepare an RFx submission to a council client:
1. Do you appreciate the bigger picture?
To write a compelling bid submission, your team must understand where the RFx project sits within the council’s wider strategy for its region, people and facilities; and what council’s drivers are. For example, if the project will be funded from the national Tourism Infrastructure Fund, your executive summary should join the dots between central government’s focus on tourism and how your council client’s project will support this. A win theme may be your organisation’s track record in delivery of ‘national’ infrastructure projects which also benefit local communities.
And, all councils will have very specific priorities, processes and requirements for safety, sustainability and the environment. Make sure you research and understand how these will apply to your delivery of the project, and demonstrate this in your methodology.
2. Stakeholder complexity
Local government organisations have one very important stakeholder – i.e. their ratepayers. The content of your bid must acknowledge this. Councils have a duty of care to ratepayers to spend monies gathered through rates prudently, to optimise amenities in, and the ‘liveability’ of, their region. Your bid content must not only be customer- and ratepayer-focused, it must also strike an (often difficult) balance between value and quality…
3. Price Quality Method (PQM)
… which is why council infrastructure bids can be based on the Price Quality tender evaluation method. As a tenderer, this means your strategy should be to optimise scores in each of the non-price attribute sections. Bid content will need to fully answer each question, be customer-focused and substantiated with solid examples. Highly scored non-price attributes will result in a healthy Supplier Quality Premium (i.e. a dollar amount which will be ‘deducted’ from your tendered price, for the purposes of evaluation).
The net effect of this, is it’s possible to be awarded a contract, without tendering the lowest price. This situation is a ‘win-win’. The council and its ratepayers benefit from high quality facilities/infrastructure, while you as winning tenderer haven’t eroded margins to submit the lowest possible price.
4. Understand how you will be scored
Clever tenderers carefully analyse the weightings in the RFx documents (which are most often included, at least in the government sector). They learn how the scoring systems work, and spend significant time developing and stress-testing their strategy.
Then, they engage their brightest and best to write compelling and compliant responses. Ordinary copy-writers simply don’t cut the mustard – what’s needed is in-depth understanding on the way the bids are marked, then application of that analysis to your content. Not a simple or an easy process, but ultimately, one that delivers a robust and defensible decision on contract award.
(And as an aside, there are significant differences in bidding across both sides of the Tasman. See Caroline Boot’s recent article on LinkedIn here for insight and advice).
5. Strong Relevant Experience and Track Record
Many councils use ratepayer surveys to establish and document contractor performance. Stakeholder satisfaction is king, so you must choose your relevant experience and track record projects carefully. The best examples will be for the client, itself, (if not for other councils) so you can demonstrate your expertise in delivering quality, cost-effectively and keeping ratepayers and residents happy. If you are a newcomer to the local government sector, start thinking now about how you can gather/document client feedback to provide strong evidence of your contract/project performance.
In summary, when it comes to councils, superficial knowledge of your client and its stakeholders is not enough; and, it’s also essential to understand the scoring mechanisms behind the tender process. The team at Plan A are experts in crafting non-price attributes content and can help you to optimise your tender evaluation scores. If need help planning and writing bid content (including win themes, executive summaries, methodology, relevant experience and track record projects) – we’d love to hear from you.