Why All The Documentation in Tenders

Typical RFT (Request For Tender) Contents

For many small business operators (and many not so small) it is very easy to feel confused or intimidated by the amount and complexity of the tender documents and the documentation required to be submitted with the tender. Most tenders, particularly Commonwealth or State government tenders, contain various Parts, each serving a specific purpose. These may be called, for example:

  • Conditions Of Tender: includes such details as the tender Closing Date, the method for lodgement, tender evaluation method and criteria, mandatory requirements and/or instructions for completing the response.
  • Statement Of Requirements and/or Specification: sets out the requirements for the relevant product and/or services and any standards and/or requirements for OH&S/WHS, Quality Management or Environmental Management or other procedures.
  • Draft Contract, setting out the conditions of contract.
  • Tender Response Schedules. (Not all tenders will have these; some will leave it to tenderers to construct a response format).


Compliance Requirements

Many if not most tenders will call for the provision of details and evidence of tenderers’ OH&S/WHS, Quality and/or Environmental Management Systems or procedures. These are risk mitigation measures, intended to show, in the case of:

  • OH&S/WHS, that you have safe work methods and procedures;
  • Quality Assurance, that you have adequate and documented processes and procedures to ensure the consistent quality and reliability and continuity of supply of the product or services;
  • Environmental Management Systems, not only that you have procedures to ensure that work does not cause environmental damage to the work site, but going beyond this, to demonstrate what processes your organisation has in place to minimise energy consumption, carbon emissions and other adverse environmental impacts across all its operations.

The need for and required level of such documentation will depend on the customer and the size and nature of the requirement. For example:

OH&S/WHS documentation: Most tenders, even those for professional services or other office-based services, will call for some form of OH&S/WHS documentation. Tenders involving construction, relatively high-risk work and/or large projects may demand some form of accreditation such as AS/NZS 4801:2001 Certification. However, documentation such as a Safety Plan or a set of Policies and Procedures may be sufficient to satisfy the requirements of other, simpler tenders. It is also worth noting that, tenders aside, appropriate and documented safe work methods, systems and procedures are advisable in any case, to help keep personnel out of hospital and business owners or Directors out of court.

Quality Assurance: Similar to OH&S/WHS, requirements for Quality Assurance vary with the customer and tender: while some purchasing bodies may call for full ISO 9001:2008 Certification, particularly from larger tenderers and/or for large projects, a simpler Quality Management System or Quality Plan may satisfy other tenders, particularly in the case of smaller tenderers with flat management structures and proven quality performance in other contracts.

Environmental Management Systems: again, documentation may vary, from a full Environmental Management System (EMS) certified to ISO 14000, to an Environmental Site Management Plan or Environmental Management Policies and Procedures which, while not being as comprehensive as a full EMS, nevertheless clearly set out the tenderer’s practices, policies and measuring and reporting processes to minimise consumption and other adverse impacts and improve sustainability.

Tender Consulting can assist in preparing the above documentation, or refer clients to known Quality and Safety consultants for preparation of full Quality and Safety Management Systems.