The Bid That Wouldn’t Die: A Tendering Horror Story

By Zoe Simpson, CF APMP.

Illustration of a bloodied corporate zombie at a computer desk, representing a tendering horror story.

With the Halloween season fast approaching, you’re about to be confronted with a raft of evil exposés and creepy tales from ‘the dark side’.

Although good planning and experience means we’re fortunate to avoid tendering horror stories, we thought it’d be a bit of fun to ponder the dark side of bidding.

What follows is a fictitious and highly dramatized example of what can happen when everything that can go wrong, does go wrong …

So, it begins …

You’ve been assigned a bid.

Something feels wrong.

The hair on the back of your neck rises.

With each page turn of the RFT document, your stomach drops further.

‘Are you sure we should be bidding for this?’ you ask your boss.

‘The go came from upper management,’ she says with an absentminded shrug.

So, go we must.

Sweat drips onto your keyboard.

You begin to sob. Softly, silently.

But as an intrepid and determined team player, you quickly square your shoulders and dive in.

The RFT documents are vague, containing re-used content and references to industry specifications for completely unrelated services.

You diligently request clarifications from procurement. They politely reply by not answering your questions. Your worry grows, as further questions mount.

You blink in horror.

The harrowing middle

You’re a week into your tender. Every bid team member is doing the hard yards.

Allens Party Mix is being consumed like, er, lollies.

Out of the blue, upper management has demanded to review the barely drafted documents, filling them with helpful comments such as, ‘This needs fleshing out.’

Your own flesh crawls.

With the 2am wind howling outside, Microsoft springs a system update. The bounty from your day of drafting is sucked into the void.

You contemplate a career change.

The buzzer sounds. It’s your all-important Teams meeting to identify key content gaps.

Your face warps. Your voice stutters. You sound like a Kiss album played backwards. And then you vanish. Damn that office WiFi!

Time ticks on.

To survive, you must sacrifice … everything

Despite it all, you’ve finished the draft. So many sections contributed to by so many subject matter experts.

Language is muddled. Consistency is lacking, but there’s no time to finesse.

Dread washes over you.

Powered by adrenaline, you bolt everything together, then marvel as the tender response slowly shambles to life, like Frankenstein at a summer barbeque.

You experience a glimmer of hope, starting to believe everything will be ok.

Your PC monitor suddenly shudders – something is wrong. A helpful collaborator has added content from another document – corrupting your carefully constructed template.


The end of innocence, as you know it

The due date is nigh and you’ve had to shut the gate on late content. Just need to complete the final review with the powers-that-be.

It’s okay, they have time, there’s a whole four days until submission.

Three days.

Two days.

The deadline looms and you stand lonely in its shadow.

The review feedback trickles in.

It’s good news – at first.

Deep within the platitudes are copious notes for yet more things to add. But there is just no time – you need to submit it NOW.

What? A surprise two-week submission extension!

Maniacal laughter rises from deep within you. This bid will just not die.

Upper management is thrilled, because now, “We can really start getting into the heart of the messaging.”

The final act

Your eyes are pink and your hair unkempt. Your wild look frightens all who cross your path.

The finish line is alluringly close. You’re on the run home.  

Finally, it’s time.

It’s 1.00pm. The tender closes at 4.00pm. Plenty of time. You attempt to upload your precious documents to the submission portal. They stumble. They’re too big. You calm your inner sense of panic, eyes on the prize, hurriedly rushing them through compression software.

Your computer sounds an ominous warning, for some reason in a Scottish accent, ‘I’ve compressed the files as far as they’ll go, Captain! I cannae compress ‘em nae further!’

A quick check confirms your documents are now small enough to upload. Whew! You triumphantly click that submit button and … the portal times out.

Computing 101. Turn it off and on again. You re-load the page. It reads ‘This Tender Is Now Closed’.

No, no … NO!  How can that be? The submission deadline is 4.00pm!


Rookie mistake. You have the time zone wrong.

You cannot submit. Game over.  

The floor opens beneath you, horrible shrieking laughter echoing as you are swallowed whole.

But the laughter is yours.

The bid has finally consumed you.

You sink into the dark …

Until the next bid lands on your desk.

We sincerely hope that you can’t relate to this tendering horror story and that your bidding experiences have seen good triumph over evil, with pleasure trumping horror, action displacing drama and excitement overcoming dread.  

But if you can relate, BidWrite can help rewrite your story.


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