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Selection and appointment in the tender process

Receiving and opening tenders

The method for submitting and receiving tenders should be clearly set out in the instruction to tenderer’s documentation.

This should include a time, date, name of person and address to which the tender returns should be sent. It is common for clients to request hard copies of tender returns, even when using online tendering, for opening purposes.

Once the due date and time elapses, no other tender returns should be considered as part of the opening process. Late tenders should certainly not be considered for public procurement projects. Private clients should be advised which tenders were late, and if they wish them to still be considered they must provide explicit instruction to do so.

A tender opening form should be used and another qualified construction professional should be present to witness the opening of the tenders. The client and other members of the design team should also be invited to the tender opening. Each tender should be opened and the general raw information noted on the tender opening form.

This typically includes:

  • The tender price (perhaps split into preliminaries, overheads and profit and prime cost)
  • The proposed programme
  • Any key comments/exclusions
  • Any alternative tender offers
  • A confirmation that all documents have been submitted or not

Reviewing the tenders

The review and analysis of the submitted tenders must be carried out methodically and thoroughly to ensure parity for all tenderers and to ensure tender returns are reviewed on a like-for-like basis.

RICS (2016) Tendering Strategies publication indicates a suitable form for this purpose:

Example tender opening form

*The example tender opening form is available in the ‘Downloads’ section below

Checking for errors and conflicts

All tender returns should be checked for errors before any detailed analysis is undertaken. This involves a full arithmetical check for the pricing side of the tender return and a logic check for the rest of the tender. Apart from obvious arithmetical errors, the key issues to be aware of are obvious errors in programme dates and any qualifications that render the tender null.

The JCT Tendering Practice Note 2017 dictates the course of action if any arithmetical errors exist (depending on the form of contract being used). As discussed in subsections 2.4 and 3.6.4, the method of dealing with errors should have been outlined in the instruction to tenderers. The basic options are either to allow the contractors to correct their error or for the contractors to stand by their price.

If any other significant error or conflict is discovered, contact must be made with the contractor as soon as possible to discuss the qualification/issue. If it cannot be resolved, they must be made aware that they will be discounted from the tender process.

The tender returns should also be issued to all members of the design team for their feedback and input.

Raising tender queries and conflicts in information

Tenders should be reviewed in thorough detail by the entire client and design team, and a list of post-tender queries sent to each of the tenderers. This is to ensure that prices are reviewed on a like-for-like basis. From a qualitative perspective, all design team members should raise queries where additional clarification is required, where there is a conflict between information within the tender return or where key information seems to be excluded.

Post-tender interviews

Post-tender interviews should only take place once the initial queries and equalisation process has taken place, as these analyses help inform the tender interview process.

The post-tender interviews are a chance to properly understand the tenderer’s proposals and raise any in-depth queries that could not be practically answered by correspondence. This might include discussing construction detailing, programme logic, method statements, understanding of costs and so on. It is also a chance to properly meet the proposed team for the project. For example, on a design and build contract you may expect to meet the proposed designers.

The structure of the tender interview should be agreed in advance and all tenderers invited to interview should be given the same structure and same outline queries (although it is accepted that there will be some questions that are specific only to certain tenderers). It is also important to agree in advance which team members should attend the interview.

Any agreement made during the tender interviews should be confirmed in writing back to the tenderer, remembering that the correspondence may become part of the contract documents. If any significant information that comes out of the tender interviews could change the whole basis of the tender, the other tenderers should be given the same information and a chance to respond accordingly.

Your task

Produce five questions that could form part of a most economically advantageous tender (MEAT) evaluation process. Share these answers with other learners and critique the responses before identifying the preferred list of questions.


JCT (2017) Tendering 2017 Practice Note [online] available from https://www.jctltd.co.uk/product/tendering-practice-note [6 May 2020]

Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (2016) Tendering Strategies. 1st edn. [online] London: Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. available from https://www.rics.org/uk/upholding-professional-standards/sector-standards/construction/black-book/tendering-strategies/ [6 May 2020]

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This article is from the free online course:

Pre-Contract Management for Construction Projects: The Basics

Coventry University