There’s a golden rule in tendering: follow the client’s structure. To me, this is such a fundamental and obvious rule that it never ceases to amaze me when I see it broken. When a client releases a tender to market, they have two key documents: the request document and the correlating evaluation matrix. For each question asked in the request document, there is a corresponding matrix that the client uses to assess the response. When the response that we prepare follows the client’s structure, it is easy for the client to do their assessment, which usually means it scores better. On the flipside, when the response is structured in some other way, the client has to rearrange their thinking to a new structure and search to find the answers. Think about it like this: the client has been putting together their request for tender for – presumably – several months or perhaps even years. They have undoubtedly invested quite some time in working out what they want and how they want to assess the potential bidders. They’ve prepared their documents and thought about how they will assess the responses. For each question, they know what they want to see and how they will score that content. They have a clear picture in their mind of the solution they want. A response that follows a different structure means they need to rearrange the way they see the solution coming together, and maybe the different structure doesn’t fit in to the full picture which the bidder isn’t privileged to see. For the evaluators, I am sure this is very frustrating, and I wouldn’t like to be scored by a frustrated reviewer. And if they need to search for the content, it makes their job more time consuming and stressful, and again, I wouldn’t like to be scored by a reviewer that feels I am making their job more difficult. Aside from completely undermining your chances at scoring well during an evaluation, what bugs me the most about teams that rearrange the content is that it sends a message of disrespect to the client. It says ‘I know better than you what you should be asking’. And it says ‘I don’t care what you want to know’. And it also says ‘I can’t be bothered.’
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