If you’ve carried out a bit of groundwork when it comes to tender applications, you’ve probably realised that familiar terms and phrases keep popping up. Tender bid phrases such as ‘up-to-date,’ ‘training, ’‘communication’ and ‘review.’ And I make no excuse in saying that you’ll probably continue to see these expressions in future writings as they have a particular importance when it comes to policy and procedure.
Once you have your policies and procedures complete – they’re well written, comprehensive and are relevant to what you do – then the majority of your work is finished. These documents will form sound foundations for the future of your business. Occasionally they will need updating from time to time, passed on to relevant members of staff, used as a basis for training, but they can easily be reviewed and tweaked at timely intervals as the crux of work has been carried out.
Whilst it would be impossible to trawl through every one of those documents here, I can certainly highlight what I think you will need for your tender, and hopefully give you some pointers about what the assessors will be looking for.
So what’s it all about? Well, the typical policies that may be requested by a buying organisation will include:
- Quality Management
- Health & Safety
- Equality & Diversity
- Environmental Management
- Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery Planning
- Social Value
Do you know how many of these are already in place within your business? If you’re not sure, take the time to see if they are saved electronically or filed on paper. It’s well worth digging them out and refreshing your memory. If they’re looking a bit dated, are not in place, or don’t contain enough detail, then it’s time to develop them with immediate effect, before you start submitting tenders. There most certainly won’t be time to do this properly and be able to embed them within the organisation and review them during the middle of a tender process. Not a chance.
You will need to ensure that the documents offer an accurate reflection of what you do as a business? Have they been reviewed and updated? When was it? Was this recorded? Was training required?
Ooops, there are those phrases again!
Quality Management and Quality Accreditations will certainly come up during a tender application and you may be asked to describe your systems and procedures together with the review processes you have in place. You may also be asked about how, specifically, you communicate your quality policies and procedures to your staff, suppliers and stakeholders if appropriate.
Hmmm … is that all?
If you’ve achieved some awards in this area, then you may be tempted to just list your proud accolades! But beware!
If the awards focus specifically on an aspect of your procedures and processes, great, go ahead and include them. But never include awards that have absolutely no relationship whatsoever to your quality management systems. Leave them out of this section and raise them elsewhere.
Why? Well, it’s like answering an exam question. If you provide information you haven’t been asked for, you’ll get no credit for it and could even score zero.
Keep to the point!
If you are already accredited, be prepared to upload a copy of your accreditation certificate or provide hard copy evidence for inspection. If you can provide specific examples of what you do, then do so, always making them relevant to the question asked.
Ask yourself … is quality discussed in management meetings? How are policies reviewed and revised? Are management meetings minuted? Is your quality policy signed by your Managing Director?
These are excellent details to include and they help to show that the subject of quality is taken seriously. It proves scalability and accountability too.
If you have any quality accreditations, such as ISO9001, work to the European Framework for Quality Management or the Business Excellence Model. Remember, you may be asked to include details and outline review dates.
But don’t panic if you don’t have these. If you’ve got good quality management systems in place, or can re-evaluate them fairly quickly to ensure they are robust, then things should be fine.
Tender writers often forget about feedback, including instances of poor feedback and complaints. Don’t see this as negative. Every company receives grumbles from customers at some point. That’s life. But if you deal with these matters properly, learn from them, communicate and update things, then this will be seen as a positive aspect.
If you are asked to upload a copy of your complaints policy, make sure it’s robust!
Is your complaints policy publicly available? It is important to keep a record of any complaints received? It is also worthwhile documenting who sees complaints within your business, who investigates then and how they are responded to. Remember, always be open and honest, even if you feel uncomfortable in declaring how many complaints you have received over the last twelve months. It’s more about what they were and most importantly, how you resolved them.
Health and Safety
Often the butt of many a joke or sarcastic comment, Health and Safety is a huge subject area and one which is immensely important. In this section you may be asked if you are Contractors Health and Safety Assessment Scheme (CHAS) accredited. If you are, then there is no need to respond to any further health and safety related questions because accreditation against the CHAS scheme is challenging and robust enough as it is. The accreditation is not easy to secure and is re-assessed on an annual basis. Tender assessors a re well aware of this. Even if you are not CHAS accredited there is no need to worry!
You may have other accreditations that are appropriate which come under the umbrella of the Safety Schemes in Procurement (SSIP) banner and include a significant number of schemes and accrediting bodies. If you employ five or more staff, you must by law have a written Health & Safety Policy. Have a look to see if it needs updating. Think about what aspects of your business require a specific focus on health and safety? Are they documented? Yet again, those familiar phrases will appear.
How do you communicate the policy to your staff? How often do you review the policies and who is involved in that review process? Is training necessary? Who does this?
Have you spoken with a qualified Health and Safety specialist?
It could be time well spent because they will be able to provide you with advice and guidance on all health and safety related issues. If you do use someone with those credentials in your business, make sure you reference them in the tender if asked. And always remember risk assessments. Having them carried out regularly is good practice but how often do you review them for accuracy or for any changes that may have occurred? Do your risk assessments include any equipment or vehicles? Write it all down!
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provides excellent information and resources to help you. Visit their website to see what you may have missed out.
Finally, in this article, we’ll quickly cover the accident record. Invariably, you will be asked about your accident record, and the recording system used for monitoring accidents and incidents within the business. As we’ve said all along … don’t panic about this, just be open and honest. If you’ve had any accidents or incidents, tell the buying organisation. Outline what was done to resolve the situation and what you’ve subsequently implemented. Was training required as a result? Who did this and was it beneficial?
Getting these policies and procedures correct, right from the start, is well worth the time as they form solid foundations from which to work from in the future. Done well, they can easily be revised, communicated and used for training. Documenting them well and keeping on top of them is just a matter of simple housekeeping, which is merely a habit forming process.
If you need advice on future-proofing your policies, need them to be more robust, or need to start from scratch, then give us a call here at Baswich Business Consultancy. We’ll be pleased to help.