Construction Project Tenders – Getting Started

Emergency Response Planning: 5 tips for success

Emergency Response Planning: 5 tips for success

Our sunburnt country is currently facing devastating impacts from heavy rain and flooding. Here at IMAS we hope everyone is safe and supported during this heartbreaking time. I myself, along with my neighbours have been trapped on our property for four days now, cut...

read more
What is risk based thinking?

What is risk based thinking?

Back in 2015 there was a game-changing shift for ISO 9001 (Quality Management Systems - Requirements). Everyone was used to the normal Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle. Everyone knew they had boxes to tick and processes to follow. And yet...there was still something...

read more
How to have a better auditor/auditee relationship

How to have a better auditor/auditee relationship

The auditor and auditee relationship is delicate. On one hand, you have a professional who puts their heart and soul into their work that is suddenly up for “examination”. On the other hand, you have a professional who is measuring evidence against requirements. It is...

read more
What is an effective Assurance Programme?

What is an effective Assurance Programme?

The term "Assurance Programme" gets thrown about quite a bit. Sadly, this is the aspect of the management system that I consistently see ISO 9001 certified organisations struggling with. In this article we'll explore why we need an effective assurance programme and...

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Emergency Response Planning: 5 tips for success

Emergency Response Planning: 5 tips for success

Our sunburnt country is currently facing devastating impacts from heavy rain and flooding. Here at IMAS we hope everyone is safe and supported during this heartbreaking time. I myself, along with my neighbours have been trapped on our property for four days now, cut...

read more
What is risk based thinking?

What is risk based thinking?

Back in 2015 there was a game-changing shift for ISO 9001 (Quality Management Systems - Requirements). Everyone was used to the normal Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle. Everyone knew they had boxes to tick and processes to follow. And yet...there was still something...

read more
How to have a better auditor/auditee relationship

How to have a better auditor/auditee relationship

The auditor and auditee relationship is delicate. On one hand, you have a professional who puts their heart and soul into their work that is suddenly up for “examination”. On the other hand, you have a professional who is measuring evidence against requirements. It is...

read more
Emergency Response Planning: 5 tips for success

Emergency Response Planning: 5 tips for success

Our sunburnt country is currently facing devastating impacts from heavy rain and flooding. Here at IMAS we hope everyone is safe and supported during this heartbreaking time. I myself, along with my neighbours have been trapped on our property for four days now, cut...

read more
Did the dog REALLY eat your homework…?

Did the dog REALLY eat your homework…?

I want to start a very candid conversation about objective evidence, what is it really, why do we have it, and why is it so important? This topic is for both members of an organisation and also for auditors. 1: What is Objective Evidence? There's a plethora of...

read more
What is risk based thinking?

What is risk based thinking?

Back in 2015 there was a game-changing shift for ISO 9001 (Quality Management Systems - Requirements). Everyone was used to the normal Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle. Everyone knew they had boxes to tick and processes to follow. And yet...there was still something...

read more
How to have a better auditor/auditee relationship

How to have a better auditor/auditee relationship

The auditor and auditee relationship is delicate. On one hand, you have a professional who puts their heart and soul into their work that is suddenly up for “examination”. On the other hand, you have a professional who is measuring evidence against requirements. It is...

read more
Did the dog REALLY eat your homework…?

Did the dog REALLY eat your homework…?

I want to start a very candid conversation about objective evidence, what is it really, why do we have it, and why is it so important? This topic is for both members of an organisation and also for auditors. 1: What is Objective Evidence? There's a plethora of...

read more
What is risk based thinking?

What is risk based thinking?

Back in 2015 there was a game-changing shift for ISO 9001 (Quality Management Systems - Requirements). Everyone was used to the normal Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle. Everyone knew they had boxes to tick and processes to follow. And yet...there was still something...

read more
How to have a better auditor/auditee relationship

How to have a better auditor/auditee relationship

The auditor and auditee relationship is delicate. On one hand, you have a professional who puts their heart and soul into their work that is suddenly up for “examination”. On the other hand, you have a professional who is measuring evidence against requirements. It is...

read more

If you’re an emerging Contractor looking to land your first tender award, this is the article you can’t afford to miss!

I’ve worked with Contractor’s of all shapes and sizes, from the multi-billion international giants to the small sole traders. To even qualify for tender submission you would have recently gone through the murky territory of management system certification.

If you picked a great provider, they would of held your hand and ensured your new management system was customised for your organisation, and not some generic cookie cutter garbage. In a recent article I wrote about the importance of getting this right. In case you missed it, you can access it here.

So now you have your new certification (ISO 9001, ISO 45001 and/or ISO 14001). You might have been left scratching your head and wondering what all that effort and money was all for. Well, buckle up! You’ve just entered the Tender Games! That management system is going to be your lifeline to what comes next.

In this post we’ll walk you through some common mistakes that we’ve even seen the big players make, time after time. Costly mistakes that you cannot afford to make.

Know your deliverables

Seems pretty obvious right? Depending on your project, its scale and complexity generally determines how many deliverables you will have. Most Contractors do an ok job of identifying the obvious ones. Contractors often make the mistake of assuming deliverables are limited to tangible products.

Deliverables can also come in obscure forms, like nominated project records the client wants filed and indexed in a peculiar way, or, evidence that you’re continually improving that shiny new management system you just paid for.

Make sure you’re 100% across all your deliverables. You might need help from a suitably competent person to help map out what all those deliverables are so you don’t get caught out when you apply for payment, or even completion.

Know your requirements

You’re probably thinking that this one seems pretty obvious too. Or maybe you’re wondering what’s the difference between a deliverable and a requirement? A requirement is defined in ISO 9000 as a “need or expectation that is stated, generally implied or obligatory”. There are going to be plenty of generally implied or obligatory requirements that go with your contract, and when you sign on the dotted line, you’re signing to say you know all about them and can, and will, fulfil them.

This one trips up many Contractors. I see it all the time. Just because something hasn’t been spelled out in the contract or the specification word for word does not mean that you’re not contractually bound to come good on it. There’s no quicker way to damaging your relationship with your client than asking for a variation because you didn’t factor something in that is either required by law, or is a custom, or a common practice in your industry or for your interested parties involved.

To give you an example, imagine you go to a car dealership. You tell the dealer “I want a brand new SUV”. You explicitly outline your specifications of colour, seats, air conditioning, apple car play and interior. You wait weeks and weeks, then your perfect new car arrives. You’re so excited you hop in the drivers seat and try to turn it over. The engine won’t start. You lift the bonnet only to discover there’s no engine! Furious, you call the dealership and demand an answer. The dealer replies with “ooooohhhh….you wanted an engine as well….sorry but you didn’t state that in your order so we’re going to have to charge you more for that”. How well would you take that? That’s how clients feel when Contractors submit variations for implied requirements. Don’t get caught out. Make sure you really understand what you’re signing up for.

Planning is critical

A lot of Contractors make the mistake of treating planning as a “set and forget” activity. This couldn’t be further from the truth, especially on a fluid site like a roads or bridges project.

You must constantly allow for planning to be agile enough to respond to the ever changing current conditions. No two days are ever the same. Just because preliminary geotechnical assessments suggest you have the perfect site-won material…well actually it could just be that one isolated spot that was tested was great, but the fill is pocketed with rubbish you wouldn’t put in your own driveway.

You must constantly revisit your planning documents to respond to anything the project throws up at you, anything from unexpected finds, supply shortages or even mother nature.

Know your risks

Most Contractors are pretty good at capturing the obvious WHS risks, and even some Environmental risks. However, it’s not often that I see a project risk register going much deeper than that. There are all kinds of risks that need to be captured, including quality risks.

One risk that appears to be limited to a singular project function, might actually impact multiple functions of the project. You need to understand what the knock-on effects could be. Unidentified risks very quickly descend into uncontrolled risks. Before you know it, you’re chasing your tails trying to put out fires, losing time, losing money and losing control of your project delivery. That’s when it gets tempting to start cutting corners. That’s when delivery gets sloppy. And that’s when huge mistakes can happen, like infrastructure failing or accidents.

Why is all of this so important?

I call this the Tender Games for good reason. Clients will typically have a handful of providers that they know. They’ve worked with them before, they may not like them, but they might be willing to settle for them simply because better the devil you know. That’s not to say they wouldn’t ditch those Contractors in heart-beat if someone better came along. As an emerging Contractor you’ve entered a blood bath of pricing wars to just win a job. Your ability to stand out is what will cement you as an established Contractor. Guess what? You only get one shot at a good first impression.

Client’s are not complicated. Their needs are simple.

  • Clients want value for money
  • Clients want Contractors that deliver
  • Clients want Contractors that meet all their requirements
  • Clients want Contractors with low risk profiles

What else can you call this other than trust? Clients want to trust their Contractors.

I highly recommend that professionals connect themselves with other individuals that are seasoned Tender Gamers and have the scars to prove it. There’s a wealth of untapped knowledge out there on places like LinkedIn that can help you learn from their mistakes so you don’t have to make them.

We implement our “Assured Project Success Program” and are seeing projects reduce costs, improve compliance, save time and exceed client expectations. If you would like to find out if this might be able to help you start your Tender Games tournament, schedule a quick chat with me here.

Karice Grundon PCQI, 03 May 2021

Karice Grundon PCQI is an experienced Roads and Bridges Construction Professional when it comes to lifting the performance of projects. Karice is a Certified Lead Auditor and Management System designer across several ISO standards, a mentor for emerging auditors in the profession and the Director and Principal Consultant of Integrated Management & Assurance Solutions Pty Ltd. Don’t forget to subscribe to follow Karice for future content.

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