How to write a call for tenders? 5 best practices to follow

How to write a call for tenders? 5 best practices to follow


As part of a new project, a company that does not have the skills, tools or staff in-house must entrust the mission to an external service provider. When the size or complexity of the project justifies it, the company makes a call for tenders.

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Drafting the call for tenders is a decisive preliminary step: the effectiveness of the specifications determines in particular the duration of the process of selecting the supplier of goods or services. Here’s how to write an RFP.

In accordance with regulatory requirements, the call for tenders procedure is commonly used in the field of public procurement, in particular for works projects commissioned by a local authority. In practice, private companies, from large groups to SMEs, also use this method of consultation when the budgetary stakes and the time to devote to the project are important.

Illustration: the company wants to digitize a business process; it does not have the competent human resources internally to choose and deploy the tools; the company puts consulting companies in competition to obtain several quotes as well as various operational leads.

Drafting a tender is a crucial preliminary formality for successful project management. The degree of precision of the specifications makes it possible to obtain proposals perfectly adapted to the need, in which case the company saves time in the selection of the service provider. The drafting of the call for tenders is also intended to attract suppliers: the company offers itself the opportunity to enter into a medium-term collaboration with the best partner.

Present the company

The methodology to be followed to write a call for tenders is rigorous. To generate quality proposals, it is a question of structuring the document in such a way as to produce a support that is pleasant to read and easy to understand by the candidate tenderers. The presentation of the company is the first structural element of the call for tenders. Among the key information to be provided:

  • A succinct organization chart: enriched with the means of contacting the employees involved, this element allows the service provider interested in the project to identify its interlocutors and contact them if necessary.
  • Fields of activity: this element allows the reader to understand the competitive environment of the sponsoring company.
  • Technical and human resources: to consider the feasibility conditions of the project, the tenderer must know what skills and what tools the company has. Providing information on the workforce also allows the service provider to know the size of the company in order to deduce its financial capacities.
  • Achievements: the company mentions its successes, so as to establish its professionalism to convince the best service provider.

Describe the problem

The tenderer is external to the company, foreign to the context and to the need. It is therefore a question of drawing a clear and faithful portrait of the situation which triggers the call for tenders.

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Illustration: the SME makes a call for tenders to digitize its accounting management. Items to specify:

  • The objective that motivates the project: gain in performance, reduction in staff or even process reliability, the consultant directs the company towards the solution best suited to the objective.
  • The reason for the call for tenders: the SME, for example, failed to implement the tool itself because the use was too complex for the employees. The tenderer therefore knows that it is necessary to provide support for use, in the form of training.

Establish the specifications

The specifications represent the heart of the document: it is fundamental for the company, which takes advantage of it to check the clarity of its project, and for the candidate service providers who become aware of the specific needs and constraints of the sponsor.

  • Needs: the company details the expected deliverable. Characteristics, functionalities, volume or even recurrence: the company puts itself in the place of the service provider to provide it with all the information useful to establish a feasibility study and an estimate.
  • The constraints: in the same way, the company lists the potential obstacles. Example: the company that makes a call for tenders within the framework of the development of a collaborative platform details the software environment in place to indicate to the publishers the integration constraints.
  • The budget: the specifications mention a budget range. It should be noted that bidders are attentive to this point: some are not interested in a budget that is too low; conversely, larger budgets can restrain small and medium-sized structures.

The specifications must be the subject of particular care when drafting a call for tenders. However, it is wise to moderate the level of detail: if the request is too specific, the tenderer is not in a position to be innovative. The company may have an interest in leaving sufficient leeway to take advantage of the expertise of service providers and thus open up opportunities.

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Specify the process of the call for tenders

The invitation to tender takes place within a framework previously determined by the company, to be communicated in the document.

  • Selection criteria: the sponsor draws the portrait of his ideal partner. Examples: the eco-responsible clothing brand wishes to establish a commercial relationship with a French supplier; the company wants to enter into a partnership with a service provider that is aware and active in terms of CSR in order to preserve its image.
  • Application procedures: the tenderer is thus able to provide a proposal that meets expectations, in terms of content and form.
  • The general conditions of purchase: all specific clauses, such as a confidentiality clause or an exclusivity clause, are mentioned.
  • The timetable: the company communicates the timetable, with the application deadline, the decision-making deadline, the date and the duration of the project’s implementation.

Distribute the call for tenders

When the invitation to tender is drawn up, the company sends it to a list of pre-selected suppliers. On the basis of the common specifications, the interested suppliers send in return their commercial and technical proposal in response to the need expressed, in accordance with the indications of the company.

Writing a call for tenders is a relatively tedious job. On the other hand, this mode of consultation saves time in requesting quotes, which often require multiple round trips.

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