Issue #23 June 2012

Writing Successful Tenders or Submissions

Our associate Senior Consultant, Chris Chappell, has spent plenty of time putting together grant submissions or tender documents, and is happy to share what he’s learnt from that experience. Chris considers the single most important aspect of writing a successful submission is being thorough and properly addressing all selection criteria. He points out that tender specifications and grant guidelines today are generally quite explicit about what the tender or grant provider wants. That said, he is often surprised by how often submissions do not actually address and/or demonstrate the ability to deliver against each selection criterion and all of the provider’s requirements.
Chris's considers that the other keys to success include:

  • Be prepared - The bigger the tender/grant being applied for, the more preparation, organisation and work required. Have your contributors, reviewers and approvers identified and prepared.
  • Have an archive of standard paragraphs to use and adapt in each submission/tender that addresses the commonly required information in the grants you submit or tender for. These will include paragraphs, lists, graphics and sentences describing your history, governance, values and/or vision, practice principles, processes or procedures.
  • Stick strictly to the tender/grant rules. If they say answer in 2,500 words, then that is what you submit and not one word more.
  • Do not assert your experience or your abilities - demonstrate them.
  • Do not assume that the reader knows anything about your organisation/program.
  • Demonstrate that you offer a low risk solution to the requirements of the company/agency letting the tender/grant.
  • Make it easy for your reader by presenting a coherent argument in a readable and effective lay-out: 
    • Use dot points, lists and tables to reduce your word count and improve readability.
    • Use graphics to summarise processes, structures and relationships. Detail them in attachments if need be.
  • Get a good writer to edit the submission for grammar, spelling, paragraph structure and length, as well as check for abbreviations, conventions or jargon you have used that are not also used by the grant body.
  • Get someone from outside of the tender preparation process and preferably external to your organisation to review your draft to ensure that it communicates what you think it does and that it answers all of the questions.
  • Seek feedback on both successful and unsuccessful tenders/submission and ensure the lessons are incorporated into your next bid.

Finally, do not make the classic mistake of failing to interpret the guidelines or tender specifications literally enough or not properly answering all the questions. Of course, for businesses preparing tenders with the potential to deliver significant additional revenue, using experienced professionals to guide and manage the process is the best option for achieving success.
You can download Chris’s tender writing guide from either or .

Another Tourism Challenge

If you have been wondering about some of the challenges faced by the Australian tourism industry, the graph below identifies yet another area where our industry is losing out. It shows the latest ABS statistics for short term international departures by Australian residents and while these are not all leisure travellers, an increase in departure numbers of approximately 130% over the past nine years has to impact our domestic tourism market.


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