Tendering successfully in the 21st Century

By Jürgen Visser, director of JSV Consulting

Tendering or bidding for Government Contracts in South Africa can seem like a daunting exercise in today’s times as Government is currently adopting technology to improve the efficiency and reach of the e-procurement process with a majority of parastatals still using the old system of newspaper advertising and large paper submissions. This requires potential suppliers to maintain both their manual and e-procurement vendor registrations and documentation as well as collect, compile and submit the tender offers which all carry costs and if not done correctly can be fruitless, time consuming and frustrating…

In future Government wants to adopt the full online submission process but for now we have a Central Supplier Database which is an online Government Supplier Management Portal that links to the Banks, SARS and Accreditation authorities. You will need to be registered and compliant on this portal to compete in, be awarded contracts and receive payments from any Government Entity in South Africa. The submission process for most parastatals is still manual, requiring bidders to compile large proposal documents and the required amount of copies and submit them in the designated tender boxes before closing time. The manual portion of the tender process is still excluding many contractors/ suppliers as the bid purchase, compilation and submission all carry costs which deter potential bidders and decreases the competitiveness of procurement process.

Bidders often abandon tendering after a few submissions as they are unsure why they were not awarded and the time and resources spent on compiling and submitting their bids appear to be fruitless. This enforces the misconceptions that Government Contracts are rigged or contractors/ suppliers were already pre-selected before the bid was released which isn’t true in most cases as the evaluation process must be followed and is later audited and reviewed to ensure compliance. Should you feel that the process was not followed then you have a right to request clarification or raise an objection under the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act.

Government Contracts are meant to expand businesses by giving them the necessary income and work security to increase their capacity to take on more projects. The evaluation of these Contracts should be Fair, Equitable, Transparent and Competitive according to Section 217 of the Constitution.

When the Government or a State Owned Enterprise/ Company (SOE/ SOC) requires goods or services they put out a Tender or RFQ depending on the value of the order/ project. Orders/projects below R50 Million will be evaluated on 80% Price and 20% BBBEE and orders/ project above R50 Million are evaluated on 90% Price and 10% BBBEE. This is however the final stage of evaluation before award and to have your bid considered you must first pass all the Administrative, Technical and Functional Criteria which is where a majority of companies fall out of the running.

Only the bids that have passed all Administrative, Technical and Functional evaluation phases will go on to have their Pricing and BBBEE evaluated and then the top scoring bidder will be awarded the contract should all the post award criteria be met. The Administrative, Technical and Functional Criteria are vitally important to prove that you have the capability to deliver the order or project successfully. This might include CVs of Key Personnel, Asset Registers, Completion Certificates and References which need to be submitted in the format requested in the bid documents.

The keys to successful tendering are:

  • Ensure you have all your companies’ administrative and technical documents ready for the services and products you offer. This includes your staffs CV’s, Previous Experience: Awards, Completion Certificates and References, Asset registers, Safety and Quality Control Documentation etc.
  • Be selective with the bids you target and ensure the work is in line with your previous experience and with what you can offer.
  • Read carefully through the document and requirements and ensure you submit exactly what is asked for.
  • Ensure that the bids are submitted on time and all the details of your submission are kept on record to follow up later.
  • Follow up on all your submissions close to the end of the validity period stated in the bid document and get the reasons why your bid was unsuccessful to make necessary changes for future submissions.
  • Constantly improve your submission documents and ensure that your bids are passing all stages of evaluation.

As a member of the Master Builders Association North you will have access to JSV Consulting advisory services where we will answer any tender related questions you may have and guide you through the process to successful bidding. If you have any questions please send them to and we will have an expert assist you.

By Jürgen Visser, director of JSV Consulting

Jürgen, a member of MBA North, is an expert in tenders and bidding successfully

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