This article provides words of advice to those organizations that are involved in submitting responses to tenders or Statements of Service Requirements (SSRs).
Audience - Pitch the contents to appeal to the novice reader as well as the expert where necessary. Don't assume the reader understands how your organization or service offering operates or functions.
Acronyms and Terms - A Glossary of Terms together with definition of terms is a must have within any response to an SSR. The use of acronyms and terms need to be clearly and concisely explained. It is not unusual for acronyms and terms to mean different things to different organizations. Also ensure that responses reflect the terms and acronyms used by the prospective customer.
A great example where alarm bells begin ringing is when an organization claims to be following ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library), but the response to the tender illustrates that simple ITIL terms have not been adopted or applied consistently. Often information supplied regarding the Service Desk uses terms such as 'call', 'fault', 'error' when in fact the term 'incident' would suffice.
Responding to Questions - When responding attempt to not provide single word responses e.g. Yes, attempt to backup the response with further information or even with some examples. By substantiating the response the reviewer is able to obtain a greater understanding as to how your organization operates and potentially its maturity.
Secondly, read and answer the question asked. Do not answer the question with information that is irrelevant. Doing so may well compromise the whole response in the eyes of the reviewer.
Reader Instructions - When compiling the response it is very easy to insert instructions for the reader to follow, for example, 'Please refer to section or appendix X'. It is imperative that these instructions are correct and do provide appropriate 'value'. A misguided instruction can not only be deemed time wasting and frustrating to the reader, it can also negatively impact the impression the reader has of the organization.
Proof Read - Proof reading the response, preferably by individual(s) not associated with producing the response, is a critical activity. Sufficient time should be factored into the production of the response for the proof reading activity to be conducted and then any corrections or recommendations incorporated accordingly.
Cut and Pasting - Inevitably responding to responses will involve the cut and pasting of existing information into the response. Care needs to be taken to ensure that the format and tense used in the inserted information is consistent with the overall response. Once again the failure to pay attention to detail will result in the overall impression of the response / organization being tarnished.
Commitment - Don't leave the reader in any doubt as to the commitment in the proposal. Avoid at all costs the use of subjective words for example, 'endeavour', 'where possible', 'may be able to'. The use of 'will', 'can' and 'do' provide a stronger message and avoids the creation of doubt in the readers mind.