Tendering – To pitch or not to pitch, that is the question!


As a rule we don’t like tendering for work now…
…and it’s not because we have never won any tenders!!! Far from it, in fact we have been very successful in gaining a great deal of work from tendering in the past.


I’d like to be somewhat controversial here: I feel quite strongly that in many cases tendering is unnecessary!

We have had a number of experiences of tenders when it has been clear that an incumbent supplier will be getting the project regardless. (And I’d like to say, quite right too.)

If you have a good working relationship with an agency/contractor/supplier, why should you have to put the next job out to tender?

They already know how you work and vice-versa.

In reality, tendering wastes their time, your time and of course the time of those other organisations who put in a great deal of time and effort in good faith for a job they are never going to get.


Time and money spent

Added to this, it injects a delay into the progression of the project and costs the companies concerned a great deal of money. And somewhere that time and money has to be recovered by fees, if each company is to remain afloat. No one can work for nothing afterall.

Now please don’t misunderstand me, I do realise that tendering is sometimes not just required, but necessary, and can be beneficial. My point here is, that is not always the case, and it’s not always the client’s fault.


Funding rules

HLF rules, (or are they just guidelines?), insist on tendering in many circumstances if your project is funded by them. And therein lies an issue – do the HLF really understand about creative work?

I have tried to talk to them but despite the fact they are public servants paid for by us, working for us, they refused point blank to even have a phone call about it. I am a nobody apparenlty, I get that, why should they talk to me?

But to be so intransigent about a topic they clearly realise is almost as contentious as this text, I think is to say the least disappointing.

Anyway, the key point is that there are many times when tendering is not actually the best option. A desire for fresh ideas and new approaches is a good thing, of course it is, but tendering is not necessarily the way to go about it.


A different approach

Instead, why not just approach a few companies and talk to them? Invite them to visit, make a judgment from past work and the chemistry you feel with the people you are going to be working with.

  • It’s quicker and would save time and resources
  • It’s a lot cheaper for all concerned and would spare the expense of the lengthy tendering process
  • But most importantly it is very likely to be more fruitful.

Well I said it would be controversial!!!

I have actually written a short document which expands upon this rant and suggests options.
You can download it here if you are interested.

Happy tendering!!!