Tendering in South Africa

When you submit a tender, you are offering to do work or supply goods at a fixed price. The tender or bid process is designed to ensure that the work to be done is fairly distributed. There are a number of policies (known as ‘procurement policies’) which are used as guides on how to make decisions on which tender to accept. Although price is very important in the decision on which tender or bid to accept, it is not the only factor taken into account.

Once a tender has been accepted, it is binding contract between both parties. This means that the person or company that won this business opportunity has to provide the goods or services in the manner agreed to and at the price offered, and the client entity must pay the agreed price at the agreed time.

The UK-based company, Executive Compass, gave a brief explanation of the steps involved in the process of tendering and published a few tips on their website which you may find helpful, as follows :

Identify the right contracts ✓

You can actively source contracts related to your industry via numerous tender portals/websites. These can be industry-specific, national, international or your local council website. When identifying contracts, think about your turnover, experience, years trading and relevant certifications and affiliations, and think from the outset about not only your ability to put in a compliant bid, but your chances of securing the contract.

Express your interest ✓

Expressing an interest lets the buyer know that you are interested in submitting a bid. You will then be issued with further documentation in the form of a pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) or, for a one-stage process, the invitation to tender (ITT). Don’t delay when expressing an interest. The sooner you opt in, the more time you give yourself to create a high-quality bid. If you change your mind, you are under no obligation to submit and can opt out at any time.

Pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) ✓

The PQQ is a document designed to exclude any underqualified suppliers and reduce the number of companies bidding for the contract. At this stage, the authority isn’t trying to nominate who they do want – they are ‘knocking out’ providers who don’t have the experience or ability to be considered at tender stage. You should be focusing on evidence and firm reassurance of your ability at this stage. Evaluators will consider PQQ and ITT stages in isolation, but any positive impression that you can establish at PQQ stage may also stand you in good stead for the ITT.

Invitation to tender (ITT) ✓

If your company has been shortlisted, you will receive an invitation to tender (ITT). While the PQQ explores what you have done, the ITT requests a proposal for what you are going to do. Any provider at this stage should, by virtue of the fact they have been invited through, be able to provide a compliant service based on the specification — but this is a competitive exercise. To secure the contract, you should be offering more. How can you add value? What can you do to support the wider community? What innovations can you bring to the service? Drawing upon key differentiators will help you stand out from the crowd, pick up more marks and ultimately secure a public sector contract.

Tip 1. Learn the rules

This refers to learning the rules of the trade and to learning the rules of the specific bid. Writing a tender is like no other sort of writing. It is informative and creative, but must also be convincing without being pushy. Learning how to write a winning bid will take time and practice. Before starting a submission you must first read through all of the documentation, especially the requirements (or ‘rules’). Always ensure you know exactly what is required by the evaluator.

Tip 2. Answer the question

They have been asked for a reason, so please do answer them! Many submissions stray wildly from the question. Even if you have raised good points, if you don’t answer the question you will fail. It helps to refer back to the question throughout your answer, just to keep yourself on the right track.

Tip 3. Evidence

Always provide evidence on any point you make. This will give the evaluator confidence that you are the right company for the job. Evidence also takes the form of case studies, which must be of the highest quality. Case studies can be developed even when there is not a live submission, so work hard on them.

Tip 4. Review, review, review

Possibly the most important tip – review your work and then get someone else to review it to ensure that the bid is of the highest quality.

When completing a document you should review it yourself before passing it on to a team member for them to review. They will spot errors that you will not see, as well as raising points you may have missed. Once you have incorporated any changes you should either have someone else review it again or, if possible, have it professionally proof read. This will ensure that there are no mistakes that could cost you the contract.

The Department of Government Communications and Information provides information on procurement procedures.

The South African Government’s eTenderPublication portal provides a single point of access to information on all tenders made by all public sector organisations at all spheres of government. This includes tenders of, among others ,all National and Provincial Departments, Metros, District Municipalities, Local Municipalities, Municipal Entities, all Public Entities, State Owned Enterprises, Constitutional Bodies etc.

The eTender Publication Portal makes it possible for all government institutions to publish their tenders and award notices on a single platform. This portal gives FREE access to public sector tender opportunities in South Africa. Here you can obtain information of the Government tenders which have been advertised, awarded, closed or cancelled. It is updated on a daily basis.

The Government Tender Bulletin appears every Friday, except when there is a Public Holiday involved, and then the closing date for acceptance of tenders will be forwarded by one day. These publication dates that influence the closing dates of the Government Tender Bulletin, are published for your convenience in each Government Tender Bulletin. The Government Printing Works does not take any responsibility for wrong information submitted.

Electronic bulletins and electronic downloads can be obtained from the Internet:

www.globalerfx.com – electronic bids

www.treasury.gov.za – bulletins and contracts

www.gpwonline.co.za – published gazette

One of the websites which publishes international tenders is Global Tenders.

Many newspapers and trade journals also have tender sections as well.

The more experience a business has in the industry that it wants to tender in, the better its chances of being awarded a tender. Although it was written in 2015, aside from the fact that you can now register as a supplier with a single central database instead of having to register to do business with a multitude of government departments individually, an article published in the City Press provides some useful tips on “How To Get A Government Tender.”

If you are not registered with the Central Supplier Database for the South African Government, you probably will not be able to tender.

If you want to create a tender of your own and invite people to quote, Remy InfoSource can assist you with this (www.remy-is.com). The company was founded by a South African whose team is based at various locations across the globe. Remy iSpec is their flagship “out of the box ready” tender, bid and contract management system with full accountability and transparency measures built-in and it can be tailored to suit requirements. Customers include SAB Miller, DP World, Mitsubishi and Konika Minolta. View their testimonials here. A Free Global Tendering Portal, Tenderwiz, has been made available to assist users in creating and advertising tender invitations of their own. This service allows companies and organisations to register and publish their tenders as well as search for tenders they might want to respond to. Apart from free listings and searches, the service also allows users to request notifications of new opportunities in their chosen categories and regions. Buyers can also make use of a free secure tender box where suppliers can upload and submit their bids.