Tendering techniques

Nthabiseng Xaba. © Unknown.
Nthabiseng Xaba. © Unknown.

The government is the biggest buyer of many goods and services and to redress economic imbalances created by apartheid, women and emerging businesses are favoured suppliers.

But your business must be registered to take advantage of government projects through official tenders.

All government departments keep a database of small businesses, BEE companies and large corporations that are eligible to submit tenders. The first step is to get your registered business onto those databases.

A business can be registered as a company or as a close corporation, depending on the kinds of jobs you want to tender for, and how big they will be.

When registering your business with the Companies and Intellectual Property Registration Office state that it will not be limited to providing a specific service. This will allow you to tender for different types of jobs.

Only after registering your business with the relevant departments, the taxman, and with the Gauteng Shared Services Centre if you operate in Gauteng, can you start seeking tendering opportunities.

Page through newspapers, company and government tender bulletins and business publications to see which documents to complete. You might be asked to give an expression of interest, which requires only minimal information.

If you are lucky, you will be short-listed and invited to submit your tender.

You will have to produce a tax clearance certificate when submitting your tender documents. The certificate, from Sars, is valid for six months and it can take a week or longer to get.

Ensure that you fill in everything required on the tender documents. Get someone to help you if you are not sure about anything. Incomplete and incorrectly completed tender documents are not considered.

Your tender document must include an action plan detailing how you will deliver the service or project. Devising an action plan becomes easier with experience. Don't compromise when you draft it.

BEE and employment equity are business imperatives in South Africa, so state how your company complies with these requirements, especially when tendering for government jobs.

A short profile of your business listing shareholders, equity structure, BEE status and geographic status will do. Also give details about your staff and describe their responsibilities in the proposed job.

Most importantly, you must prove you have the capacity to do the job. Your submission should be based on the core strengths of the business, knowledge and expertise, and strategic partnerships.

The time and commitment invested in preparing the tender document should be apparent.

A signed executive summary should justify why the tender should be given to your company. Keep the summary short and never let it exceed two pages.

The completed tender document should be bound. Keep a hard copy as well as an electronic copy of all the information submitted. They are useful if the client has any questions later. Therefore, the information must always be readily available.

Expect to pay a non-refundable fee before tendering.

The strength and weight of your tender will determine if you make the short list of bidders who are invited to make a presentation.

A panel evaluates your presentation, so call on your team to assist when you prepare it. The team should accompany you to the presentation.

Treat every tender as a separate project. This means you should consider the capacity, resources and risks of your business when applying for each tender.