How to prepare your documents

Learn how to develop a specification, evaluation criteria, evaluation model, tender schedule and contract for your procurement.

Successful procurement relies on you preparing your documents. These documents contain much of the information you gather during the planning phase. Some of these documents are for suppliers. Some are internal.

Develop the specification

Specifications explain what suppliers need to do during the procurement process. They form a vital part of any tender documentation for the procurement of goods, works and services.

Specifications can be:

  • functional, focussing on what the procurement needs to achieve
  • performance, with associated targets
  • technical, with information on specific characteristics like the size and type of materials

Your specifications should:

  • provide clear needs
  • identify industry standards only when necessary
  • help suppliers understand the criteria
  • give the criteria appropriate weightings so their importance is understood

How to write a specification for goods and services

Your specification needs to be clear and simple. When preparing a specification, it helps to know the:

  • customer, user and stakeholder needs
  • market information
  • risks of your procurement
  • evaluation criteria
  • relevant policy, standards and supplier charters or codes of conduct

Writing construction specifications 

Understanding the needs of your procurement helps to describe specifications. You should include:

  • a project brief
  • performance standards
  • technical standards
  • all work covered by the contract
  • a description of the work or services to be delivered

For construction works this may include technical drawings showing the location and position of the infrastructure and material required. This should be supported by a detailed description of the materials required.

Develop the evaluation criteria

The evaluation criteria describe the method you’ll use to evaluate proposals and bids. These criteria address:

  • capability
  • capacity
  • value for money
  • integrity

An evaluation plan helps you in assessing the offers made by suppliers, including their capability and capacity to deliver. A plan should cover:

  • the objectives of the procurement
  • criteria, including weighting and/or scores
  • government policy, Australian standards, and supplier code of conduct

Your evaluation plan could be simple, but if your procurement is complex, it will need more detail and criteria. You should finalise your plan before the end of the market engagement process. You should be able to scale it up or down depending on the level of complexity.

Types of evaluation criteria

There are several types of criteria in evaluation plans. Including criteria that:

  • help you reach the procurement goal
  • assess the performance of suppliers
  • judge value for money
  • address government policies

How to create an evaluation plan

Good planning streamlines the process of selecting suppliers and ensures the integrity of the process. It also guides you when developing a tender response schedule.

Your evaluation plan should:

  • reflect the complexity of your procurement
  • address any conflicts of interest
  • evaluate suppliers using the same criteria and weighting
  • define the roles of probity advisors and auditors and any other advisory groups
  • document the decision-making process

Criteria included in your evaluation plan cover general criteria, and criteria specific to your purchase.

Choose an evaluation model

Once you’ve settled on your criteria, you’ll need to decide how to score or measure them.

Some common approaches to assessing criteria include:

  • a simple score, if all the criteria are equally important
  • a weighted attribute, if the criteria have different levels of importance
  • using a target price, if the scope of work is hard to define or budget is the main issue
  • a pass or fail, for any criteria that are mandatory
  • choosing the lowest price, if the procurement is simple and cost is the priority

Mandatory criteria could be any of the general or project-specific criteria, or additional criteria. What makes criteria mandatory depends on each individual procurement.

Select an evaluation panel

The evaluation panel judges the submissions received against the set criteria. Then they decide on a shortlist or preferred supplier.

You should try to have 3 to 5 members on your evaluation team. Depending on complexity, you may need more. Your procurement governance unit can guide you on how many panel members you need.

Make sure each panel member:

  • understands the skills, knowledge and expertise needed for the project
  • can be available during the entire evaluation process
  • does not have any conflicts of interest

You may also use experts to consult to your team. They don't have to be panel members.

Develop the tender schedule

Tender response schedules are the forms suppliers complete when they bid to supply goods, works or services. Information in these forms help you evaluate their submissions.

Tender response schedules provide questions suppliers should answer. Information you ask suppliers for must;

  • relate to the evaluation criteria
  • reflect the procurement’s level of complexity

The format of a schedule can vary and may be:

  • a form with blank spaces for suppliers to fill out
  • a list of information needed in a submission
  • a request for information with no nominated format

The schedules have questions you need to ask about suppliers and their offers. Schedules differ between construction and goods and services.

Find out more about goods and service standard form templates.

Following policy 

During your planning, you should have determined whether your potential suppliers need to follow:

Depending on what you buy, suppliers may need to outline how they plan to meet these policies in their tender responses.

Create the contract

Contracts describe the commercial relationship between the buyer and the supplier. They set out obligations of the buyer, such as payment requirements. They also set out obligations on the supplier, such as the quality of services and delivery times.

After you complete a draft contract, you need to have it reviewed by a legal expert before releasing it.

Information in the contract needs to be consistent. It must not contradict other components of the tender pack you’re putting together. Write your contracts in plain English, so they're clear and easy to understand.

Your contract should include the following information:

  • needs and obligations
  • schedules and forms
  • performance targets and procurement goals
  • terms and conditions
  • a record of all commitments and negotiated agreements

The contract process is similar when buying goods, works and services but there are a few differences. The differences are:

  • goods and services encourages you to use modelled clauses
  • construction generally uses mandatory forms of contract

Refer to your procurement governance unit for advice on who needs to approve your contract.

You can use standard form contract templates as default contracts and tailor them to your procurement. They are for purchases that have a low-to-medium complexity.

Find out more about works standard form contracts and goods and services standard form contracts.

If your procurement is complex or high risk, get advice from your procurement governance unit. If you need a new contract or changes made to standard form contracts, the new contract must be:

  • the best for your chosen procurement model
  • consistent with other agreements used by your organisation
  • follow the law and policy

Read more about works contracting requirements and goods and services requirements.

If you need to include a policy in your procurement contracts, there is guidance to help you:

Other items you may need to consider when writing a contract are insurance provisions and intellectual property.

Putting tender documents together

A document package should include:

  • part A: Conditions of Tendering, which explains the rules of submitting a formal bid
  • part B: Specification, explaining the needs a supplier must fulfil
  • part C: Conditions of Contract; this has the rights and obligations, and the terms of the awarded contract
  • part D: Tender Response Schedules, that a supplier fills out as a part of their bid

The pack may also include:

  • your organisation’s cover letter
  • tender notices, invitations, advertising and communication methods

Check for consistency across all documents. Then check with your procurement governance unit to see if your documents need formal approval. The more complex the procurement, the more likely you are to need formal approval.

Read more about works tender documents and goods and services tender documents.

Reviewed 01 December 2019

Buying for Victoria

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