Writing Winning Bids for Plant and Civil Engineering in the UK

Bidding for plant and civil engineering tenders is complicated and time-consuming, particularly with government clients who require highly detailed and complex information, writes Jason Cooney, the Director of Tsaks Consulting, a bid and tender writing consultancy based in London.

You will need to explain in detail your process of design and development, environmental issues, supply chain management, health and safety procedures, and how you will coordinate it all to finish the project on time.

Plant and civil engineering equipment is expensive, and takes time, effort, and money to keep serviced and maintained. Provide a list of all machinery that you either own, or lease, from bobcats to frontend loaders and scrapers.

Provide details on the servicing and replacement plans you have in place should equipment breakdown or need repairing. Do you have heavy duty diesel mechanics in your team who are ready and equipped to repair and service plant equipment? If you rely on a leasing company to provide your equipment, are they readily available to visit on site to complete any repairs or replace parts? You want to put the clients mind at ease and give them confidence that no projects will be delayed.

Well-planned methodology statement

It is commonplace that a client will request a methodology, especially public sector clients. No amount of detail is too great when preparing your methodology, and it should break down every area and stage of the project.

It should cover details including purpose, scope, roles & responsibilities, inspections & testing, tools& equipment, work permits, work health and safety procedures, quality assurance & control, and manpower.

When writing your methodology, go beyond a simple description of the program. Your methodology must demonstrate the time and commitment you put in to plan and deliver the project on time, safely, and in a cost-effective manner. In addition, list any special considerations that went into the methodology. For example, if the project is next to a source of water with wildlife, go into detail how you have put measures in place to prevent water contamination and ensure the safety of native animals while operating machinery and excavating.

Evaluating and explaining your pricing

Occasionally, competitors will submit a price, with a schedule for any variations. This approach is generally acceptable. However, it is a good idea to provide an explanation as to how you came to your price and why you have the costings for variations in place. Elaborating on any inclusions helps differentiate your bid from your competitors, particularly when it seems they are offering similar services at a more competitive price. It gives the evaluator a clear answer before they even begin to question your higher price

Also, other evaluations should be taken into consideration regarding your pricing. Public sector projects come with a high standard of compliance to rules and regulations. These will be strictly monitored by work health and safety inspectors and quality assurance managers on site. Not taking this into consideration can leave you with substantial losses when inspections not only take up time and reduce productivity, but also create more work when you are asked to correct something or put new procedures in place.

Qualifications and experienced staff

For every worker that is required on site, there are tickets and training needed; for every worker on site operating machinery, further tickets and licenses are needed. Each machine comes with itsown required ticket and set of procedures, for operation and daily inspections and servicing.

It is a major deciding factor for clients that a contractor not only has licensed and qualified staff, but they are also experienced and efficient at operating and maintaining the appropriate machinery and equipment.

Concise and positively written bid proposal

Once you have researched and developed your methodology, made sure you meet all client requirements, and gathered all information from your engineers and procurement professionals, it’s time to put it all together in writing.

Having a professional bid writing strategy that systematically organises your information, in a concisely written manner, will capture the attention of the reader and put you ahead at each step of the process.

The right approach

Many civil engineering companies rely on cookie-cutter approaches to bid writing, while relying on their services, competitive price, and marketing team to design an impressive looking proposal. This approach, when coming up against a company that has all the boxes ticked, including a well written bid proposal, is likely to fail.

Bids must be meticulously planned and presented, especially when competing against companies with similar services at competitive prices. Having a professional bid writing strategy and technique will put you ahead in the clients’ eyes at every competitive step of the bidding process.