EP 8 - How to analyse a tender enquiry and what to look out for

Analysing a tender can feel like a laborious task, but carrying out an assessment before you dive right in will help you save time in the long run.

Here’s a snap shot of the key items to look out for and where to find them.


The variability in the quality of a tender enquiry is, unfortunately, staggering - clients can be lazy and dump a tonne of documents on you to sift through, they don’t direct you on information to look out for, or important information is completely left out.

Let’s take a look at how to analyse the information as efficiently as possible.

Here I break down the three areas which may hold up your estimating and impact the accuracy of your quote, so investigating these areas will really improve your output.

Drawings and Information:

It’s quite common for information to be missing; this could be down to the design team not producing the information or the person issuing the tender forgetting to add the information to the tender. A quick way to understand what’s missing is by reviewing the document register or requesting it.

Also, as an expert in your field, you’ll understand where certain information may overlap between consultants; for example, if you’re a ground worker, you may need the below ground drainage and incoming services information which overlaps between the Structural Engineer and M&E consultant, this could be easily missed by an inexperienced client. So, requesting missing information like this will make your price more comprehensive and avoid friction later down the line if it crops up as a variation.

If you feel the quality of the information is lacking, then you should bring this up with the client and state you’ll need more detail to provide a comprehensive quote.

By raising an RFI with the information you require, you’ll give the client ample time for them to go back to their design team, and you’ll also subtly educate them on what information they need before they issue out a tender next time.


Analysing the commercial aspects of a project is highly important, especially if there’s CDP, design responsibility, or a performance bond involved.

You will usually find these requirements buried within the preambles, or prelims documents, or the invitation to tender letter. By hitting a simple search on these documents, you will quickly be able to pick out these items to identify them.

If your works include design responsibility and it doesn’t mention requirements such as collateral warranties, it’s worth clarifying this upfront before you submit your tender.

You will also want to understand the form of contract you’ll be working under, including the insurance levels, payment terms, defects period, damages, and retention %. If you can’t find this information in your tender, then ask for a copy of the draft contract for you to review.


Sometimes the scope of a tender enquiry can be vague, so if you think the client may be asking too little or too much, get this clarified early. Here are three items to look out for in your scope

      Products – if the client is requesting a particular system which you cannot provide but think you can provide a sufficient alternative, get this approved before you start building up your price.
      Specification - NBS or specification documents are really useful, but keep an eye out for specific finish, testing or warranty requirements – these may come at an additional cost. If you don’t pick this up and you’re successful in winning the project, there’ll be little recourse for you to claim the additional costs.
      Prelims - vary significantly between trades, and it’s not always clear on what the client requires you to provide. If you can’t find a schedule of attendances, ask them to provide one or give you a quick breakdown of what level of prelims you need to provide.

The Takeaway:

Analysing a tender before you start pricing gives you a chance to properly assess the project and the employer's requirements.

By doing this at the start, you can raise RFIs and queries early on and get answers to those queries quickly, and this will assist with returning your price on time and improve the accuracy of your price.