Shorter Tender Periods – A Faster Start on Site, or Longer Delays to Come?

30th October 2019

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Time is money, or so the saying goes…

At Soben we are increasingly seeing a trend towards shorter tender periods.  Contractors are being given less time to return a priced tender from clients keen to get their project started ASAP.  While contractors are no strangers to pressure to get the job done, additional time pressure at tender stage is unlikely to bring positive results.

To the untrained eye, it may seem like requesting weeks or months to complete a tender process is unnecessary, however it is important to look at exactly what a contractor needs to undertake during this time.  They must:

  • Consider logistics and buildability of the project
  • Prepare the construction programme
  • Prepare enquiries for sub-contractors, including BQs if required
  • Receive and analyse tender returns
  • Consider project risks
  • Query any design issues they identify
  • Draft the financial tender submission
  • Achieve board sign-off
  • Prepare any other deliverables with tender – e.g. quality submissions

Reducing the time available for a contractor to submit a completed tender bid simply means that there is less time for preparation, resulting in a less detailed tender with fewer innovative solutions that could benefit the project as a whole.

As a result, contractors are increasingly experiencing a much longer post-tender period, finalising their bids and resolving tender qualifications for issues that were not able to be considered in detail during the shorter period.

Overall, it is our experience that reducing the time available for contractors to prepare and submit a tender has little or no effect on the time taken for works to commence, as additional time post-tender is required to resolve the contractors necessary qualifications and assumptions.  In fact, it may even take longer to appoint a contractor and for works to start.

We would encourage commissioning clients take a long-term view when scheduling tender timescales, and understand that a fully costed and compliant tender may take longer to produce, but will likely save time, and money, throughout the life of the project.