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Tendering is simply the formal offer put to contractors to supply you with goods or a service. It is a bidding process that is open to all qualified bidders and where the sealed bids are opened in unison and are awarded according to whatever criteria you set. In most cases you will be looking for the best quote you can get.

Here we will go through the tendering process and then consider some of the legal aspects of engagement and review.

At first this process may seem confusing but by following some simple steps you'll be engaging professionals in no time!

How to tender

The first step is to identify what professionals, and if appropriate what companies, are in your area that can supply the skills you need. Once this is done you can send out an invite to tender which should be a letter that includes the following information and is likely to accompany additional documents: 

  • Some background on your group and an introduction to the project.
  • Detail how you would like the tender to be presented (i.e. written, plans & drawings included). You should include a Form of Tender for each contractor to return with their tender, which includes the summary of their costs and is signed and dated.
  • A detailed specification of the work required. If you are being supported by a partner organisation it may be appropriate for them to create the specification.
  • A site plan
  • A deadline date and time
  • Return address with named individual, asking that the envelopes are clearly marked “TENDER”
  • Contact details for any queries.

It's advised that you get quotes from at least three sources so do shop around to get the best quote that is as close to your criteria as possible.

Download a sample Tender brief.

Opening Tenders

Responses should not be opened until the deadline date and any received after the tender deadline should be disregarded. Those responses that are received on time should be opened simultaneously and reviewed by representatives from your group. We recommend that at least two representatives from the group are present at the tender opening.

The tender process should be recorded using a tender record sheet that includes the following details:

  • Names and addresses of the contractors that the tender was sent to
  • The deadline date for submission
  • The dates the tender responses were received
  • Which suppliers sent tender responses
  • Who the group representatives were that opened the tender submissions
  • The date and time the tenders were opened
  • The reasons for choosing the preferred contractor (including a justification if the lowest tender was not chosen)
  • Declaration from the group representatives that the information contained in the tender record is a true and accurate record of the tender process

Evaluating the Tenders

When reviewing the tender responses received you will want to refer to the set criteria that you require the suppliers to meet. If a partner organisation or professional is going to evaluate the tenders, as many members of the Group as possible should also be involved in the evaluation process.

Once the decision on the preferred contractor or supplier is made you should send them a letter of intent - most contractors will accept this as a formal agreement prior to a contract.

You should also notify those contractors that have been unsuccessful - these organisations may want feedback on the reasons they were not successful.


Once a professional/consultant has been identified and shown interest in joining the project, a contract of engagement will need to be made. This will clearly set out what services are being undertaken, over what time frame and the remuneration. This is essential to avoid misunderstandings and hold ups.

More information on this can be found in the Contracts section.


At each critical stage of the project it will be necessary to undertake a progress review (make sure the reviews are part of the contract). Is the professional service being delivered as expected? Is the consultant still working with the group and meeting demands? If the professional is not meeting the standards laid out in the contract it is best to confront this early on when there is still scope for corrective action.

Go to the next section - Legal issues

Go to the previous section - Engaging professionals

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Tendering advice