Have you ever wondered how you can get into tendering and get yourself that V class? Or why you’ve struggled to get tenders and that V class? Whether you’re a complete beginner AKA “First timer”, or a seasoned veteran looking to brush up on the basics and improve efficiency, this article is for you.

First, a little background into why we’re doing this. The primary risk in working with first timers, is not knowing whether this person will be able to deliver. So to minimise that risk and get you firmly planted in the game, we guide you through the process as a partner. In a true partnering sense, we’ll be training you while strengthening our relationship, meaning in future we’ll be able to trust you in taking on bigger deals.

Now let’s run you through some key terms:

1) The Central Supplier Database (CSD)

The Central Supplier Database (CSD), is as the name suggests – all supplier information for every level of government, can be found in the CSD. Major government and corporate bodies, such as SARS, the National Departments of government including home Affairs, and CIPC, verify it, to simplify the process of registration. (Click on this link to find out more on supplier registration)

By now you’re wondering why we’ve explained the various terms and meanings in tendering. It’s because the scammer prevention tactics can be applied across all spheres of the tendering process so it’s crucial to stay vigilant from start to finish.

2) What is a tender?

A tender is an invitation or offer to provide goods or services at a fixed price – set by the company issuing the tender. The process of bidding for a tender is built in a way that allows all bidders to challenge for the tender fairly. Scammers capitalise on an over eagerness to compete.

A tender notice or advert will usually give the following information:

·     Type of item/work in question;

·     Name and address of the tender authority;

·     The tender enquiry reference number and/or date;

·     The cost of and the last date for collection of bid document; 

·     Due date and/or time for submission of tender papers;

·     Information on how to obtain the tender documents;

·     Any other Instructions or information

The following section outlines, are terms of the documents involved in the tender application and procurement process.

3) What is a Request For Quotation (RFQ)?

Also known as an invitation for bid (IFB), it’s the process where a company requesting services/goods invites select suppliers and contractors to submit price quotes and bids for the chance to fulfill the project or parts of it. … RFQs can be sent alone but usually they come before a request for proposal (RFP). RFQ responses detail the cost of fulfilling the project’s needs

4) What is a Request For Proposal (RFP)?

The RFP is the document that announces the tender and provides details about a project that needs fulfilling. It’s sometimes seen as an invitation to bid by contractors who can complete the project. Government is known to use RFPs a lot to try and get lower bids. A request for proposal requires the interested companies to consider bidding based on whether the project is worth it, and whether the company can actually do what is proposed. RFP responses compare which vendors are best for  completing the project

5) What is a Request For Information (RFI)?

The RFI is a document used by companies that require information about the nature of the project, the industry/market it belongs to and some of the general questions surrounding things like the challenges and tasks that define the project. The RFI is a document that offers a platform to gain the facts of the project where the vendor will explain their offerings. RFI responses detail how each bidder would go about fulfilling the project.

6) What is a Purchase Order (PO)?

A purchase order is a commercial document that details an official order placed by a buyer (from either corporate or government) to a seller indicating types, quantities, and agreed-upon prices for products or services required. After the fulfilment of that order, the seller is then paid by the buyer’s organization that issued the order.

You can watch the following video to get more clarity https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nw9GqfSmI6E

Now it’s time to pop that Tender Cherry. *Rubs hands

1.   Tender Procurement

Preparing the tender itself can be a challenging process at first but you need not be discouraged. The process as a whole could cost you time, money and energy – especially if you end up not getting the contract. The first thing that’s important to note is that you need to be resilient. The moment one obstacle is enough to keep you down; you’re going to have to come to terms with the fact that you don’t want it bad enough. Before you attempt to bid, spend some time considering whether it’s worth it or not.

When you obtain the bid documents, analyse them carefully, and ensure that you can provide the skills that will ultimately lead you to a successful fulfillment. Consider how much it will cost you to prepare the bid and would the work itself fit in with the positioning of your business as well as future aspirations. Then estimate the cost it would take to fulfill the contracts and consider if it would be worth the potential earnings and your final profit once everyone has been paid. From there, figure out the team you’d need to assemble and what each member would need to fulfill his or her role.


Check the tender advert and contact the person awarding the tender to confirm that it’s legitimate. A call would be best as you’ll also have an opportunity to discuss the details of the tender, how the documents will be collected and if they are willing you might ask some questions that will reveal tips as to how you can increase your chances of procuring it

Insights from the client

Following up on the last line about asking questions that get you ahead, it isn’t uncommon to informally talk to the client via phone or meeting. It’s best to ask questions, anything from how long the process is expected to take, what the deadlines are and, all the way to when and how you’ll be paid. While many clients want you to come up with a creative solution to solve their problem, be weary of over sharing in the event that a client might take your naivety as a first timer as an opportunity to steal your idea.

If the client hosts a site inspection, be sure to attend as absence may disqualify you.

Contents of the tender

Once you have a document telling you about the tender. Focus on what the client wants, try to adopt their perspective and imagine how you would solve the problem. Just make sure you keep your imagination in check and you deliver on what is requested and not what you imagine would be ideal off the bat. Look into their wants and needs. Focus on how you will go about meeting them while pitching your skills and how they’ll ensure that fulfillment of the client’s requirements.

Come up with ideas using the creative thinking that we mentioned earlier. Talk about how you’ll tackle the problem to ease their worries and deliver in the present with the future in mind (solving the problem long term will increase your chances). Consider the maintenance required to keep your solution viable and cover every element of the document. Show that you have the resources to actually do the work needed to fulfill the tender. Make sure that it all presents as cost effective.

It’s worth noting that value for money sets you apart. Not just to save the client money now, but in future – look into possibly making the client more money by positioning yourself as an ideal long-term partner. Bring a solution that hasn’t been done by the client, or a process that the client might not have considered.

Some points to emphasise are: reliability, value for money, low maintenance, reduced risks and future benefits

Do not overlook the pricing factors and costing in the document. Keep staff wages in mind, and anticipate the need for an emergency fund in case there’s a delay on an issue that costs money to remedy – not bribes. It would do you a lot of good to show that you’ve anticipated legal and commercial risks that could cause failure. When mentioning your team, highlight strengths and successes in their previous experiences if they have them.

Make sure you can meet deadlines (sooner is better than later) and be able to adapt or showcase flexibility to changing situations. As COVID-19 has demonstrated, life happens but work needs to get done regardless. Make means not excuses.

To close off this section here are some documents to keep up to date and on stand by for tender application.

The forms usually required for national and provincial business tenders in South Africa are the following:

1. The Bid

In this document you agree to be bound by the terms and conditions of the tender or bid.

2. Tax Clearance Requirement

Your taxes must be in order to be successful with your tender or bid. This document has an ‘Application for tax clearance certificate’ form attached to it. Complete the form and submit it to a South African Revenue Services (SARS) office, then get a tax clearance certificate. Attach the original tax clearance certificate from SARS, to the tender bid documents. The certificate proves that there are no arrears with your tax payments.

3. Price and motivation

Which of these documents you complete depends on the subject of the tender. In this form, you motivate your price, by describing the product you will supply or the experience of the person who will perform the service. 

4. Declaration of Interest

This is the document in which you declare whether or not you have a relationship with anyone who works for the government (friend, family, business leads). This is so that those people are not involved in awarding the tender in any way, to avoid accusations of nepotism and corruption.

5. Preference certificate

Fill in the form for tenders even if you are not claiming any of the preference points.

6. Contact form

TShould the bid be successful, this document binds the agreement between both parties.

2.   Suppliers

When most people look into identifying a new supplier, they are usually tempted to focus on the best price. But focusing on present cost cutting can hurt you in the long term. A relationship built on sustainability promises better rates, higher discounts and even favourable information on prospective buyers or recommendations as a client. In line with the scammers awareness campaign, it’s crucial that you verify supplier certification. You are also better off steering clear from suppliers involved in any negative political affairs, alla PPE scandal.

Depending on your manufacturing requirements, determine the logistic capabilities of the supplier so you would know how to go about transporting products. Are they local, are they multinational? Do they have multiple warehouses or a single warehouse? Depending on the nature of the tender and the client you might have to look into shipping capabilities and associated costs relative to the number of locations a supplier has to offer. Fortunately a lot of these technicalities can be negotiated in order to get a better price.

When picking suppliers, factor in the requirements of your tender in terms of fulfilment. Delivery performance is key to industrial buyers. Ask for their lead time projections compared to on-time delivery rates, averages in distance compared to time based on previous deliveries and vehicle reliability. If these cannot be provided, then it is a good sign that they are not tracked or are not very good. Either reason is cause for you to start considering other options that are better suited to your needs.

Establish payment terms early

Identify the suppliers that are willing to work with your payment requirements. Clarify the penalties that come with being unable to operate on agreed upon times. To build a good relationship, concede leighway but don’t get too comfortable with mediocrity. Successful businesses are defined by efficiency. As a first timer don’t be afraid to ask for what you need to run your business appropriately. But do your research so that you don’t come across as a rookie who’s there to be taken advantage of.

Contact References

Testimonial, reviews and any opinion pieces exist for a reason! A vote of approval from another business that has worked with the supplier speaks volumes about their true abilities, it could also save you a lot of time and money. While NDAs can cause difficulties in this area, some form of opinion exists out there and you’re better off finding it sooner rather than later through experience

3.   Financing

Generally speaking, price is the number one consideration in the awarding of tenders. There are of course other factors that need to be focused on to increase the chances of success these are; demonstrating innovativeness, capacity to deliver by submitting a picture gallery of your previous work, or testimonials of satisfied customers.

Make sure that you show proof of your ability to deliver on the work you have tendered for.

Have to put this in there – if you need the purchase funded then your friendly neighbourhood TPF is here for you.

4.   Following through

Confirm that your tender documents have been received follow through

It is not unheard of for tender boxes to have been tampered with. Our recommendation is to call and ensure that the right person gets their hands on the right documents, then follow your call up with a confirmation email. You can’t be too thorough on this one.

You should follow through on the status of your application. Do it in a way that demonstrates an eagerness to win the contract, and not incessant probing that will annoy the person on the other side. Prepare well for any presentation in the event that you win the tender.

If you win the tender, respond to the client and confirm your letter of appointment. Part of the process will mean setting up a meeting with the client. Always take initiative when you have the option to. Be proactive, take charge and show your client that you are confident, know what you are doing and you are committed to deliver a quality project on time and within budget.

If you don’t land the project, try and find out the reasons why you were not selected. This will help you correct errors and be better prepared for future tenders. For peace of mind,  keep in mind that you will not win every single tender that you respond to, so having grit and being resilient are definitely qualities that will keep you steadfast in the journey.

Avoiding common mistakes

Below is a list of some of the common mistakes that hinder your chances of winning the tender.

·  Don’t neglect to include all the information stated by the tender document – if you can include a little more to boost your credibility. FORGET NOTHING

·  Fill in all forms completely

·  Make sure that your calculated costs and the tender prices are well calculated. Again, an emergency fund would cover such a problem

·  Be sure to ask and clarify points you don’t understand. It’s better to ask than to misinterpret and misunderstand something that will affect the tender process at a later stage.

·  Understand the scope of the work so you know exactly what you’re getting into

·  Sign all your documents to authenticate

·  It’s very important that the tender is directed to the right place. Follow the law and don’t be late.

Final points

Congratulations on making it this far. There isn’t much left to be said so we’ll leave you with a list of the key points that you should take away.

·  Don’t request unnecessary information

·  Establish costs

·  If you’re doing the tender, do it with the intent to finish it.

·  State the purpose of your bid

·  Summarize your work as the contractor

·  State your process of fulfilling the tender

·  State how the client needs will be met

·  Present value for money – what distinguishes you from the crowd?

·  State when and how goods/services will be delivered

·  Showcase your team’s skills

·  Detail your role in managing the project

·  Include the problem that you’re solving and be practical

And that’s it. All you need to know to make your first time a good time.

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