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Bid management plays a vital role in improving success rates when tendering for contracts. Diving headfirst into tendering without a bid management strategy is a sure-fire way to see poor results.
The key stages to any good bid management strategy are:
Buyers want to see that your business holds the correct experience and skills to complete jobs to the highest standard. This covers things like:
It is key for any business looking to showcase their abilities that these are developed in a coherent and formatted manner.
The benefits this provides for a bid management strategy are:
Let’s look at the above points in more detail.
First impressions count, so brand guidelines are essential for high-quality bid management. These should inform the development of your corporate literature. It should inform the look and feel of your literature, giving a consistent and professional impression to buyers. Brand guidelines are established rules on aspects such as:
When presenting corporate literature to a buyer, the key is to be consistent throughout. Small organisations may have simpler brand guidelines. For example, one or two templates and a selected font. On the other hand, larger organisations will have ‘brand books’ which are full literature on branding guidelines.
Ensuring that the brand guidelines are comprehensive, clear and consistent will support your bid. Therefore, it is worthwhile to invest in developing good brand guidelines. These will enhance your tender material. It can sometimes mean the difference between becoming the first or second choice to a buyer.
Given the often complex nature of tenders, buyers can often have very specific requirements. Tender responses that fail to address this will fail to attract buyers and will get lost in the crowd.
This sounds simple; however, this can often be overlooked due to the size of tenders and their corresponding documents.
The key ways of implementing this into your bid management strategy are:
The benefits of your bid management strategy are:
Sourcing opportunities that are right for you and your business are vital.
Developing tender responses can often be time-consuming. Therefore, it is vital to assess opportunities prior to committing the time to creating responses.
Key things to consider in this include the following:
Considering the above is key. Wasting time bidding for opportunities you don’t have the credentials to fulfil is a guaranteed way of seeing poor results.
Establishing your abilities for contracts is key to ensuring consistent success in bid management.
We provide 11 industry-specific portals that streamline this information for you. This provides you with more accessible ways to discover new opportunities.
You can book a free demo of any of our portals to see the live system and understand how the systems can help your business.
Planning is vital to successful bid management. It will allow you to ensure that you spend enough time and effort writing your responses.
Failing to allocate sufficient time in your bid management will be reflected in the quality of the response you submit.
To ensure consistent success through bid management, developing a planned week ahead of submission is key.
The key elements to factor in planning are:
The above is not exhaustive and will depend on your business. It is vital for bid management to take an approach that covers the above at the very minimum.
When managing your bid, ensuring you thoroughly understand how to accurately price the contract is essential. The complexity of pricing documents can often be misleading. They are often presented as one or two pages. In contrast to the number of pages required for a quality response, it can be easy to overlook.
To manage your pricing submission effectively, you must:
Proofreading is vital for bid management. Given the size and scope of certain tenders, mistakes can often be missed. This can convey poor organisation and professionalism to buyers.
Having a robust bid management strategy that carries this out also allows you to ensure your responses reflect the buyer’s demands.
Bid management isn’t just about checking spelling mistakes or grammar. Formatting it correctly is essential as well.
Inconsistencies between questions look sloppy and are off-putting to buyers.
The best way to carry out proofreading is:
All tenders require a bespoke approach, tailored to the specification requirements. However, as part of bid management, it can be useful to create ‘boilerplate’ responses. These are simply standardised method statements for how you deliver services. They can be as short or as long as you like. The benefits of developing boilerplate responses are that your methodologies are all in one place. They are ready to tailor to your questions in current and future tenders.
For example, a question may ask about how you will deliver effective contract management. Your boilerplate response may include points about:
It is always best practice to re-write and edit these responses to ensure they effectively answer the specification. Having these method statements in one place can save you a lot of time and provide inspiration.
Now, it’s finally time to submit your hard work. This shouldn’t be the first time you have accessed the buyer’s portal. It is good practice to make yourself familiar with the system ahead of the submission. This will eliminate last-minute panics when you can’t log in or find the area for the submission.
It’s important that your bid management process doesn’t just end with the submission. Learning from the results is crucial to continuously improve your bid writing and overall approach.
Unfortunately, you won’t win every tender that you bid for. But it doesn’t have to be a negative experience. If the buyer doesn’t provide feedback, you can ask for it. We would always recommend asking the buyer to show you where you lost marks. It could be that you won on the quality side but lost out on price. This means that you should provide a more competitive quote next time.
Top tip: In the public sector, buyers will publish details of who won each tender. It is worth reading the award notice because the winning price is normally published also. This will help you to see how much the winner charged so that you can be more competitive in your next bid.
To manage your bid successfully, time management is key!
When writing winning bids, time is a precious thing. Not only is there an imminent deadline, but if you don’t give it your all and put everything you have into the bid, then it’s not only time you’re wasting – it’s money!
We’ve provided a few best practice principles to make sure you don’t create unnecessary panic at the last minute and can time-manage your bids more effectively.
There will have been times in the past, especially if you’re handling more than one tender at a time, where a date may have been mixed up. It’s then led you to realise that the bid is due in 24 minutes and not 24 hours as thought. Read the tender timetable carefully – this will enable you to start planning effectively. Tender timetables are featured in the tender documents and look something like this:
|Example Date||Example Milestone|
|31-July-2018 – 03-Aug-2018||Evaluation|
|03-Aug-2018||Notice to award/Alcatel commence|
|13-Aug-2018||Contract start date|
Make sure you assess whether or not the opportunity is the best option for you. We have been behind many projects in the past, working tirelessly on content and writing bids on behalf of our clients. Then, two days before submission, they decided it’s not right for them.
Don’t waste your time and money – make sure it is right for you by closely digesting ALL of the information at hand. Yes, it may be a 100-page document you have to read through. But believe us – it’ll be worth it in the long run.
Check out our blog, ‘To Bid or Not to Bid’, for further information.
Once you know the buyer’s timescales, now it’s time to get your bid management in order. This is where you create a plan for the tender at hand. No matter the size of the opportunity, whether it’s £10,000 or £10 million, it’s very important to make sure you’re not winging it and have a structured plan in place to manage your time and approach effectively.
A Gantt chart is typically used in project management cases. They’re used for longer periods, detailing responsibilities, activities and timescales. We love a good Gantt chart and feel this is a clear-cut process for managing those all-important milestones when developing and submitting a tender.
We’ve liaised with many customers, who have never used a specific online portal before. This has then led to the submission of their tender documents being delayed. Often, it’s due to their lack of understanding or inability to navigate the portals. We recommend you get to know your portal in the early stages. Have a click around and know your procedures for submission.
To make your bid management process more effective, you can also look at the skills on your team. In order to see successful results, you need access to certain strengths such as:
In bid management, meeting deadlines is an integral part of the role. If the deadline is missed, buyers do not have to evaluate your bid. Additionally, asking for extra time without a valid reason never looks good. This makes the buyer nervous about your time-keeping skills which will undoubtedly be a key factor in the contract.
In order to effectively manage your time, we recommend developing a bid plan. The plan needs to be standardised but also adaptable to accommodate work that requires a short turnaround.
Of course, you can develop a bid library of documents and responses that are often applicable to most tenders. This will save you time on some questions. However, copy and pasting won’t always work, and unforeseen questions will require bespoke responses.
You don’t need to be a bestselling author to write bids, but you do need a flair for technical, factual writing. The writers on your team must be able to produce short, sharp sentences that concisely convey the important information. It’s great to demonstrate your writing talents but evaluators are reading multiple submissions. Don’t make them hunt for the information! They want to see the facts and the direct answers to their questions. If the response requires 500 words, don’t wait to start answering the question in the last 100.
When tendering for work in the public sector, you need to think differently than in the private sphere. The best Bid Managers are able to plan their next move in advance and lay the groundwork. You want to ensure that you are attending site visits and responding to market engagements. This allows you to build a relationship with the buyer and gain further insight. The more information you have about planned procurements, the more room you have for time management.
Hudson Discover houses 11 sector-specific tendering portals, designed to speed up the opportunity tracking process. To effectively track hundreds, if not thousands, of sites, you would need a full-time employee assigned solely to this task.
As the portals are dedicated to specific industries, this helps to eliminate irrelevant tenders when tendering for contracts. However, the portals can be further tailored to only display tenders of interest to you. For example, you can filter by keywords (the services you offer), region, budget and sector.
Furthermore, each client is assigned an Account Manager to assist you. They will send an email alert when new tenders are uploaded so you don’t have to log in every day.
We source tenders for the following sectors:
It is important to keep learning and expanding your knowledge. Whether you are new to tendering or well-versed, increasing your understanding will only strengthen your capability.
Tender VLE is the UK’s first online learning platform, exclusively dedicated to tendering. The masterclasses are led by bid writing and bid design experts. Topics include:
We touched on bid libraries earlier, but let’s take a closer look at maximising this strategy.
Essentially, a bid library is a digital place in which you store everything you might need to bid for work. This could include your:
If you don’t have the above documentation, our Tender Ready service can help. Tender Ready is a four-week programme, designed to help you prepare to bid for work. Our Bid Writers will create the documents you will need and professionally brand them. Additionally, you will also receive three days’ worth of bid writing consultancy to help you respond to a relevant tender.
Holding regular meetings is always a good way to ensure that your team is on track and problems are solved. However, it is especially important in recent times, as most businesses are working remotely. There are many software platforms that host team meetings, which we’re sure you’re all familiar with by now.
Many concerns would normally be expressed in general office conversation without realising the importance of the interaction. When working remotely, we have to make a more conscious effort to highlight problems and solve them.
An efficient bid management process will include setting internal deadlines. Try to plan internal deadlines before the final submission date. This will reduce stress and rushed work as the deadline approaches and ensures a smoother submission.
A simple bid management progress chart will be effective to visually record timescales. Each member of your team should have access to the tracker so that they can see the work coming together. It will also help the Bid Manager to provide extra support to those who are not meeting the planned schedule.
If there are multiple team members working on a bid, it’s important to establish responsibilities from the outset. This means that each person has their assigned role to focus on. Again, this is especially important when working remotely.
When a bid has been written by multiple people, it’s important to ensure consistency. When proofreading, you should already be checking for:
However, you should also assess the flow of the bid. Are the facts and statistics the same? Is the font consistent?
Establishing a bid strategy that encompasses the above will allow you to see growth for your business.
We provide a range of services that are entirely bespoke to your business requirements. We will guide you to success in your tendering efforts.
Find more helpful tips and advice in our blogs. We cover topics including:
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