What to expect when tendering

We understand it might seem daunting to have to participate in an competitive tender process. We try to make the process as straightforward and easy to complete as possible, making the requirements of the tender proportionate to the risk and value of the tender.

The process

Below is a guide to the tender process. The stages used may vary from tender to tender, depending on the size, value and complexity of the contract being awarded. Each tender opportunity will have the processes clearly laid out in the documents once you have expressed an interest.

Market engagement

We may carry out market engagements to understand the supplier market and the best way they can deliver the goods and services for us before we develop a specification for the service or product that we are tendering for.


We advertise all our opportunities on the Kent Business Portal, where all adverts contain a summary of the opportunity as well as the key dates and contract period.

Once registered as a supplier on the portal, you can express an interest in any opportunity advertised.

The portal contains opportunities from various other local authorities based in Kent as well as Kent Fire and Rescue.

Selection questionnaire

This is a set of questions used to gather information about your business, and must be completed within a set timescale. It can be used to shortlist companies before inviting them to tender.

You can complete the selection questionnaire (SQ), download relevant documents and upload your own documents (where requested) via the Kent Business Portal.

Evaluation of SQ

SQs are evaluated using criteria that is laid out prior to submission. You are notified of our decision via Kent Business Portal.

Invitation to tender (ITT)

This will be open to all suppliers or, if there has been one, only those who have successfully passed the SQ stage. You will be asked to fill in a tender document and provide any supporting documents necessary. The tender documents are available for download once you have reached the ITT stage and will contain all or some of the following:

  • instructions to tender
  • the specification
  • the pricing schedule
  • contract conditions – defining the relationship between the council and the successful supplier
  • explanation of how we intend to evaluate bids.

Evaluation of tenders

Submissions are evaluated using criteria that was laid out prior to submission by a panel of experts and stakeholders. You are notified of our decision via the portal.

Online auctions

We may carry out an e-auction as part of our tender process. This will be carried out after the ITT process between all bidders who are compliant with the specification. E-auctions take place over a set period of usually around 30 minutes where bidders are able to revise their price, with the winner being the most economically advantageous at the end of the set period.

You will be notified within the ITT if an online auction is going to be used.

Award of contract

The decision is published on the portal and our Contract Register. Successful and unsuccessful award letters are sent out to all bidders showing the evaluation criteria and feedback of their bid as a comparison to the successful bid. An OJEU award notice is issued if it is required.

About the tender

Any tender enquiries or queries about your submission, must be submitted through the Kent Business Portal.

We will not accept:

  • tenders after the closing date or time
  • telephone enquiries (unless specifically invited)
  • lobbying for information from elected members of officers involved.

We promise to treat each supplier, prospective supplier and enquirer with fairness and respect. We follow a fully auditable process that complies with public procurement legislation and will give feedback to unsuccessful bidders upon request.