How to be a Successful Bid Manager for Rail Tenders

24th February 2021

How to be a successful bid manager in the rail industry

If you’re a bid manager for rail contracts, you know what the end of the railways franchise means for business. You’re aware of the precise and time-focused nature of rail industry contracts. The new Emergency Recovery Management Agreements (ERMAs) is most likely going to result in more tenders over a shorter period.

This means in order to keep the business running smoothly, you must have the relevant project management strategies in place. Efficiency is key as the ERMAs will need to be applied for more frequently, unlike the old franchise system. In the majority of cases, buyers will require:

  • Case Studies –  A comprehensive collection of previous contracts that have been fulfilled
  • Company CVs – Relevant records of employee’s and their respective experience
  • Financial Accounts – Allowing you to showcase your financial suitability for the role. If your annual turnover is less than half of the contact then you’ll be unlikely to be picked
  • High quality written responses – Grammar, spelling and errors are high priority
  • Evidence of relevant qualifications, accreditations, and policies – Quality assurance policies, health & safety policy, adequate training of your employees, equality/equal opportunity
  • Pricing documents.

The benefits this give your company are:

  • Having consistent and well-developed content to showcase your business’ organisation and professionalism
  • Maintaining a bank of information that can be called upon with each tender
  • Improving consistent growth and developing a robust bid management strategy for future tenders
  • Showcasing your staff and company’s experience in the best possible light.

Any bid manager tendering for contracts knows these must be of the highest quality to secure a contract. The new contracts hope to drive growth while encouraging innovation. You can expect more demanding management agreements with tougher performance targets that need to be met. 

What does it take to be a successful bid manager for rail contracts?

Time management

Time management is key to bid writing – it’s no different if you’re a bid manager for rail contracts. It might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised just how many failed submissions there are due to poor time management.

The first thing you must do is establish the submission deadlines, both date and time. It’s useful to set internal deadlines too, so you can keep on top of things. It’s best to establish the following when the tender specification is released:

You should factor in enough time for any potential unexpected challenges along the way that may delay you. This extra time should allow for any last-minute changes before you submit the tender response.

Keep your finger on the pulse of the rail industry

You must be up to date with any new policies, qualifications and accreditations that are needed for tender responses. These are updated and renewed every now and again, and you need to know what’s changed and when. For example, a Recognised Accreditation Scheme could include any of the following diversity accreditation schemes:

  • Investors in Diversity
  • Clear Assured
  • National Equality Standards
  • Diversity Development Standard
  • Inclusive Employers.

Big projects such as HS2 have provided a wealth of bidding opportunities within the rail sector. It’s a landmark project that’s creating a huge variety of opportunities to those within the Logistics Sector. The government is always looking to update the rail network. This means you should be able to find the relevant opportunities for your business.

 A bank of evidence 

Rail tenders often require a great deal of technical responses, supported with hard evidence. A bid manager within the rail industry should have ordered, easily accessible evidence for all matters relating to the tender. There’s a great emphasis on health and safety with all rail tender quality responses. As stated above, a bid library can save you time.

It’s best to get as much evidence as you can well in advance. Responses require hard and thorough evidence of case studies or financial accounts. You don’t want to be rushing around last minute trying to collect this information.

Detailed and technical writing abilities 

The quality of your written response counts. Buyers want to see technical, factual and detailed information in front of them. You and your Bid Writing Team must write clearly and concisely in line with the specification. A high level of attention to detail is an essential quality for a bid manager. Although rail tenders tend to require technical responses, you should avoid including unnecessary technical jargon.

How to make your internal processes more efficient

You must create somewhat of a masterplan to success if you’re a bid manager for rail contracts. Here are a few pointers that may help:

  • Block out distractions

    This sounds simple but too many contractors kill time by becoming distracted from the task. This can manifest in any way such as:

  1. Social media
  2. Emails
  3. Texts

All these components can detract minutes and, eventually, hours away from worktime. A good method for organising your time is through blocking your days into sizeable chunks. This allows for less wasted time.

Ultimately, ensuring that you allocate time effectively can boost your productivity.

  • Create a writing plan or style guide

Through the creation of a style guide, you can ensure a consistent response. This is particularly useful if multiple people are working on a tender response. It helps create a clean looking document too. You should distribute this to all team members and include things such as font, tone of voice and writing style. Buyers are expecting a coherent and consistent response.

  • Holding regular meetings

Team meetings are a good way to ensure your team is on the right track (if you pardon the pun). This is applicable now more than ever, as more employees working from home. Regular meetings provide time for your colleagues to voice any concerns or share useful information with each other. It also helps keep priorities straight as the project might need more attention on something one week. However, it’s also important to note that overindulging in meetings can end up being a drain of time and attention. Ensure that the meetings you have are highly efficient, and that people take accurate notes so that further meetings aren’t needed.

  • Back up your claims

The rail industry is precise and data heavy, and this means that you’ll be allowed less leeway for unsubstantial claims. So, make sure that whatever statistic you’re giving, or claim you’re making, is backed up by hard evidence. It won’t reflect well on the credibility of your company if you’re fact-checked and your information is false. In fact, the result of this might be the rejection of your bid from the bidding process. A good way to avoid this is through proofreading, as you’ll be able to check the document for untrue claims.

  • Set early internal deadlines

As mentioned in the time management section above, setting internal deadlines can be an effective bid management strategy. Allow enough time and then some in case of unexpected challenges. This will help reduce stress as the deadline approaches and enables you plenty of time to proof before submission. Time management should be key in your bid management team.

  • Record progress

Recording your progress is not only useful, but satisfying too. Making a checklist and being able to check tasks off is rewarding and can boost morale. Each member should have access to a bid management progress chart. Then they’re able to see the response coming together. This ultimately stimulates a sense of achievement for the team, leading to further cohesion.

  • Establish roles and responsibilities early on

 If there are multiple people working on one tender response, establish each person’s role and responsibilities early on. This can help avoid confusion and ensure that everyone has their own task to be getting on with. You don’t want to end up with duplicated responses from miscommunication as it’s a waste of everyone’s time. Communicating this and coming up with a timetable can help, particularly if your team’s members are working remotely.

  • Delegation

Following from establishing roles, it’s also important to recognise your capabilities as a bid manager. There’s no shame in admitting that you need to outsource, as this can speed up productivity and efficiency considerably. Other reasons to outsource can be:

  1. There’s a good chance that the company you’re outsourcing to is highly specialised to complete their part of the role. Due to this, when the response is complete, it reflects well on you and your company.
  2. In some cases, its preferable to stretching resources/overreaching in your abilities to deliver a response.
  3. The outsourced company may provide skills and knowledge you hadn’t thought of/ methods you haven’t encountered.
  4. A fear some companies hold is the outsourced company lack of knowledge around the company. But most proficient subcontractors will consult the relevant people to gain the necessary information.
  5. If you can’t afford to sink resources in other areas internally, outsourcing is the perfect option. Its time and cost efficient.
  6. You’re accessing a talent pool you wouldn’t otherwise have.
  7. Your focus can return to the other, more pressing aspects of the contract.
  • Proofread before submitting

Proofreading before you submit your tender response is a critical step that shouldn’t be overlooked. It may be best if you’ve been working on the tender to get someone else to have a look over it. A fresh set of eyes can help identify any spelling or grammatical errors that you may have missed. They will also be able to identify whether the response answers the question within the specification.

As the ERMAs are for shorter terms, there’s no doubt going to be an increase in competition. You need to stay ahead of the game and ahead of your competitors to win contracts. If you lack the know-how and expertise to stand out from the competition, it may be best to outsource this.


So, we’ve reached the end of this blog about bid managing in the rail industry. For those who need it, here’s a short recap.

We covered:

What it takes to be a bid manager including:

  • Keeping a finger on the pulse of the rail industry
  • Ensuring time management
  • Having a bank of evidence
  • The importance of having and maintaining a good level of writing skills

We then went on to some tips that help with efficiency:

  • Proofreading before submitting
  • Blocking out distractions throughout the day
  • Delegating tasks/the power in outsourcing
  • Establishing roles and responsibilities
  • Finding the balance between efficient and overly long meetings
  • Setting internal deadlines
  • Recording progress
  • Creating writing plans
  • Ensuring your claims and statistics are truthful/factual.

Now you’ve got a great idea of how to improve as a bid manager, you may be wondering what we offer…

How can we help?

The tendering process is long and complex but the team are here to assist you writing bids.  You can outsource the role to our dedicated Hudson Succeed team. They have 60 years bid writing experience and an 87%I didn’t success rate. Our team have secured contract wins totalling over £300 million for our clients.

We offer four bid writing packages:

Send your completed rail tender response over to our team. They can take a look at it with a fresh pair of eyes. They’ll notify you of any grammatical or spelling errors before you submit.

The Tender Ready programme is for those who have never tendered before. We work with you to ensure you’re on the right track to submitting a successful bid. The 4-week programme will develop your branded corporate literature and case studies. Our team will advise you on what tendering opportunities you should go for and guide your through your tendering response.

If you’ve found the perfect rail contract for your business but don’t have the time – we can help. Send it over to our Bid Writing Team and they’ll take care of the rest. They’ll even submit it on your behalf and provide a full Tender Writing breakdown.

If you’ve already tendering, but aren’t seeing the desired results from your efforts, the Tender Improvement package can help. Our Bid Writers will assess your submissions and provide guidance and feedback.

Additional support

If you only need the assistance with PQQs or SQs we can help. Send the information over to us and we can provide you with a quote for the work involved.

Sourcing rail opportunities

We source tenders within the Logistics Sector on a daily basis off thousands of sites across the UK. Any bid manager for rail contracts knows how important it is to source the right tender for your business. It can be easier said than done.

You can sign up to our Logistics Tenders portal and start receiving business leads today. Our Opportunity Trackers manually upload thousands of live tenders daily. You’re able to filter the results by keyword, location, budget and more. You no longer have to rely on inaccurate CPV codes to find the right opportunity for your business.

Hudson Elite

Our recently launched Hudson Elite service offers an upgraded level of support to our Discover portals. We can help you with an even more efficient service offering a fully managed tender tracking approach.

Your Account Manager will personally find opportunities for you. They are on hand to help you decide on the ever-important bid question. This can help save you even more time to focus on running your business. This package includes an annual subscription to the portal of your choice and weekly phone calls to discuss new opportunities.

Get in touch for more information.

The Ultimate Time Saver package offers your business:

  • A maximum of five tender breakdowns per month.
  • An annual subscription to a maximum of two Hudson Discover sector-specific portals. This option can help businesses that overlap two industries such as Healthcare and Technology, for example.
  • Pre-market and award engagement notices monitored on your behalf.
  • Buyer portal management, including registration, password management, downloading documents and assessing viability based on your bid or no-bid strategy.
  • Weekly phone calls with your dedicated Account Manager to discuss viable tendering opportunities.

The Become a Pre-Bid Master package also includes:

  • All of the above.
  • Up to seven tender breakdowns per month.
  • Bid Strategy delivered by a Senior Bid Manager with a minimum of 5 years of experience. It will also be managed by our Global Bid Director.

On Logistics Tenders, we post contracts for:

Book a free live demo today for a quick tour of our portal. Get in touch to learn more about our bespoke bid writing services.

Want to save even more time?

Upgrading to Discover Elite can save you even more time, helping you identify tendering opportunities even when you’re busy. Our two time-saving tools can improve your competitor awareness and bidding success rate.

Find more helpful tips and advice in our blogs. We cover topics including:

Share This Insight

A Bid Writer


Similar Insights

Tendering Process for Technology Contracts
Latest Insights 29th June 2023

Tendering Process for Technology Contracts

Tendering Process for Technology Contracts  Winning technology contracts relies on a combination of experience in…

Read More
Win Tenders in the Hospitality Sector: Laundry, Catering and more!
Latest Insights 12th June 2023

Win Tenders in the Hospitality Sector: Laundry, Catering and more!

Win Tenders in the Hospitality Sector: Laundry, Catering and more! Winning hospitality tenders relies on…

Read More
Tender VLE: Our Virtual Bid Learning Environment
Latest Insights 5th June 2023

Tender VLE: Our Virtual Bid Learning Environment

Tender VLE It’s simple — to win contracts, you must have the necessary skills of…

Read More
How to Win Healthcare Tenders: Our 10 Top Tips!
Latest Insights 23rd May 2023

How to Win Healthcare Tenders: Our 10 Top Tips!

How to Win Healthcare Tenders: Our 10 Top Tips! Winning healthcare tenders is a skill…

Read More
How to Become a Tender Expert
Latest Insights 10th May 2023

How to Become a Tender Expert

How to Become a Tender Expert Becoming a tender expert is a surefire way to…

Read More
Top 10 Tendering Secrets
Latest Insights 3rd May 2023

Top 10 Tendering Secrets

Top 10 Tendering Secrets It is no secret that the tendering process can be complex…

Read More

Let’s get started.

Call for a FREE consultation with our Tender Writing Consultants or simply send us an email and a team member will contact you.

Request a Callback