How to prepare a good proposal: after the publication
Once published, the standard bidding time for an ITT is 6 weeks, which at first glance may seem like enough time to prepare a bid, but keep in mind that writing a proposal will actually draw on a lot of resources and the available time may quickly run out.
Before starting the actual writing and focusing on the Statement of Work to define the structure of your work, it is good practice to read all parts of the tendering package carefully, i.e. the Cover Letter, the Statement of Work, the Draft Contract and the Special Conditions of Tender, for the following reasons:
- The Cover Letter includes a number of essential elements characterising the specific activity e.g.
- Any constraints regarding, for instance, the participation by your company's country of residence in the Agency’s optional programmes (GSTP, ARTES, etc.);
- Any special Industrial Policy measures (e.g. in favour of SMEs);
- An indication of the envisaged price type (e.g.: FFP, CP to be converted, Cost Reimbursement, etc.);
- An indication of the price range. This indication can be either:
- A Rigid one, reflecting the maximum amount available for the execution of the work, in which case only proposals quoting a price within this limit will be accepted for evaluation, or
- A Flexible one, representing a guideline for the establishment of the price, in which case the proposal can exceed the figure, if properly justified
The formal conditions for submission of the bid, among others the exact duration of the tendering period and the exact date and time by which proposals must be registered at the ESA Establishment’s Central Mail Registry concerned.
- The Statement of Work and its Annexes are the basis on which tenderers are required to elaborate in order to prepare their proposals. It includes:
- an introduction and the objectives of the activity
- applicable and reference documentation, list of acronyms
- the proposed organisation of the work (tasks, including input, work description and output)
- the technical requirements to be met/constraints to be considered
- the specific requirements for Management, Reporting, Meetings and Deliverables
The Draft Contract is based on the relevant version of the ESA General Clauses and Conditions (GC&C) and is specifically tailored for the needs of the activity covered by the ITT.
THE DRAFT CONTRACT CONTAINS CONDITIONS THAT HAVE DIRECT INFLUENCE ON THE WAY THE TECHNICAL PROPOSAL NEEDS TO BE STRUCTURED, e.g., the use of pre-existing (Background) Intellectual Property Rights/Third Party Intellectual Property Rights.
The Draft Contract also contains explicit conditions that may have a direct effect on other parts of the proposal. For instance the Draft Contract may specify the maximum number of payment Milestones allowed, which is important for creating the payment profile in the Financial Proposal.
- The Special Conditions of Tender (SCT) are the Agency’s “detailed instructions” on what the different parts of a proposal should contain and they give, or repeat, additional information with respect to the General Conditions of Tender for ESA Contracts regarding, a.o., the expected length of the proposal, the envisaged duration of the work, the available budget, etc.;
The SCT list strictly follows the expected layout sequence of a proposal (Cover Letter, Executive Summary, Technical Proposal, Management and Administrative Proposal, Implementation Proposal, Financial Proposal and Contractual Proposal) and provides guidelines or firm requirements on the contents of each of these parts;
- Finally, the SCT include a set of Evaluation Criteria in the Annex that will be used by the Agency to evaluate the proposals, and the Weighting Factor associated to each criterion (in the case of competitive Tenders- or non-competitive Tenders above 20M€);
- The SCT list strictly follows the expected layout sequence of a proposal (Cover Letter, Executive Summary, Technical Proposal, Management and Administrative Proposal, Implementation Proposal, Financial Proposal and Contractual Proposal) and provides guidelines or firm requirements on the contents of each of these parts;
Before diving into the Special Conditions of Tender, bidders should familiarise themselves with the General Conditions of Tender for ESA Contracts and, more specifically, the four different parts thereof:
- General conditions to participating in a Tender, e.g., the eligibility of economic operators wishing to participate in a Tender of the Agency and their obligation to meet registration and information requirements prior to submitting a tender
- General conditions for the presentation and submission of a Tender, which address the more formal and legal aspects of Tenders to ensure fair and open competition (e.g., ESA right to audit, non-reimbursement of Tender expenses, non-commitment by the Agency, certification of free competition, etc.)
- General conditions for the content of a Tender, addressing the actual content and structure of Tenders
- The applicable Annexes