Tender planning for a construction project is one of the most important factors in its success, and yet it constitutes a comparatively small percentage of the total project time, and often is not given the attention it needs.

On a three-year build you might have three months to put plans together and often, with the best will in the world, the tender plan is ultimately not possible to follow. Getting tender management and planning right is a specific skill honed through experience, hindsight, and industry knowledge. Given the impact of the tender on a project, a good planner is worth their weight in gold.

Why would you need a claims consultant for tender planning?

Often, contractors are over stretched on paying jobs, meaning that not enough attention is paid to putting a tender programme together for work that you might not win. Your planner might be pulled off a site and given 48 hours to put together a tender programme or perhaps all your planners are busy, so you try to bluff it at the final hurdle. That’s despite it costing thousands of pounds in other resources to put the tender together and the great value of the reward for doing it well, both in the short- and long-term.

Questions to ask yourself when tender planning

Amongst the many things that a tender programme should include to really show a detailed understanding of the scope of work and identify key client issues, timescales, and potential phasing requirements, you should consider:

  • Does it miss milestones?
  • Does it fall foul of typical tender instructions such as ‘client deliverables shall not be on the tender path’ (we can get you round that!).
  • Does it have so much float that you will never get an Extension of Time award?
  • Has it been resource levelled?
  • Has it been costed out so you can see impacts on cash flow?
  • Have you allowed for approvals, permits, design, procurement etc.?

Has the tender programme been properly thought through?

The tender plan and programme need to match, mirror, and potentially explain all the sequences of construction that the technical narrative formulates. For example, it’s no use planning for 28 piling rigs when the site can only provide space for four – a typical challenge.

The art of tender planning and programming has become a deliverable that is often not looked at until it’s too late, and this is where an experienced claims consultant can make a positive difference from the start by adopting a ‘prevention rather than cure’ approach (although we can also help when it’s reached the ‘cure’ stage as well).

At Tungsten Capital, we are often asked to provide planning support on tenders. That can range from being the short-term tender manager/planner/technical writers, all the way to following the detailed tender programme through to the project baseline programme. The result is that all your entitlements are preserved for when the expected delays manifest themselves.

While it is an extra cost upfront, having a professionally thought through tender programme is invaluable and will set a project off on the right track, reaping rewards both now and in the future.