Tender writing 101: The drafting process for major tender submissions and proposals

Posted by Oliver Hogue on 10/01/2015

The best tender writers use energy, persuasion and craft to create documents that clearly describe the benefits and added value of your proposition. A tender writer uses core processes and systems to ensure each document addresses the needs of the client and the requirements of the tender.

The most common process is the drafting of documents. A tender writer will develop a document in three draft stages. These drafts are sometimes referred to as bronze, silver and gold because the document gets better at each stage of the drafting process.

An effective content plan will keep you on track when you are writing.

The bronze draft, or first draft, is about creating the outline response for your document. The outline tackles each question and summarises what to include for each answer. While the best bronze drafts will be part written, it's usually fine at this stage to write your ideas down in bullet-point form.

What isn't negotiable at this stage, though, is clearly defining the features and benefits of your offer, as well how each answer is going to address the client’s objectives and tender evaluation criteria.

Open key sections with clear statements aligned to the client’s objectives

The document should be written in full for the silver and second draft deadline. That means bullet point answers are no longer acceptable, the details have been drafted, and your ideas and solutions have been fleshed out. Even if in some places the material is raw. If there are answers still in bullet point form, tackle the reasons for this issue now.

Is your tender persuasive? Is it compliant? You're going for gold!

The gold or third draft is the finalisation of all content. Every question is answered and the response is checked again for compliance. There are no gaps and the answers thoroughly address the evaluation criteria. If there are page limits, the document should be generally right on the limit.

 The final steps for the tender writer are to ensure all your key messages are properly included in the document with relevant evidence and case studies to support your claims. Then it gets a thorough proofread and a final formatting in time for printing.

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