There are many varied challenges and milestones throughout the bid writing process which must be considered for a bid to be successful. Effective organisation is essential.
In this post we explain how we arrange our end-to-end bid management process for maximum impact and efficiency.
It is vital before applying for any tender, to ensure that the contract is a good fit for your company and that there is nothing which may discount you. If you do not have a robust qualifying process in place, you will waste a lot of time on bids which you could never win.
We always recommend formulating a one-page document which defines what the ideal contract would look like for your company. Think about:
- Contract Value
- Scope of Works Required
- Length of the Contract
- Location of the Services
You should keep this list in mind whenever you find a new opportunity.
Top Tip: Never apply for a tender with a contract value more than 1/3 of your annual turnover. Even if there is no minimum requirement, the chances are you won’t succeed.
Other things you must also think about include:
- Does it match your organisation’s strategy?
- Does it match your capabilities?
- Have you got enough experience?
- Do you have the appropriate resources to bid?
- Do you have the resources to fulfil the contract?
- Can you reasonably expect to win?
Once you are happy that the opportunity is suitable, check the relevant documents to see if you would qualify. You should read the following documents:
- Invitation to Tender (ITT) / Invitation to Quote (ITQ) / Request for Proposal (RFP)
- Specification / Scope of Works
- Selection Questionnaire / SQ / PQQ / PAS91 / RFI
- Quality Submission Questions
- Pricing Schedule
Make sure there is nothing that would stop you from applying. Is there a minimum turnover requirement? Are there certain accreditations you must hold? Check these things now, or you’ll waste a lot of time on a project that was never destined to succeed.
Preparing to Bid
Before you begin writing, there are a few vital steps you should always take to speed up the process later.
There are several documents which are almost always required, so we recommend gathering them together early to help with the Selection Questionnaire stage. Even if they aren’t required, you’ll then have them in one place for future reference or for use in the ITT. Gather:
- Economic and Financial Details
- References and Contract Examples
- Insurance Information
- Organisational Chart
- Accreditations and Certifications
- Key Staff CVs
You should plan your resources carefully before starting, otherwise you may find that certain key individuals end up taking on too much and fail to keep up with their regular tasks. Obviously, this will vary depending on the personnel you have available, but it is still worth considering who will:
- Lead the bid project?
- Gather information and look after admin (SQ and form filling, clarifications, final submission)?
- Be the lead writer?
- Oversee pricing?
- Be the key decision makers?
Writing the Bid
Break your writing process down into specific sections and ensure that everyone is on the same page with how the project will develop. The basic stages we would suggest for a standard bid are:
- Kick off-Meeting
- First Draft
- First Draft Review
- Second Draft
- Second Draft Review
- Final Draft
- Final Draft Review
The kick off meeting is crucial as it ensures that all team members are on the same page. The meeting should answer key questions about the opportunity and ensure that everyone knows what their role will be. The meeting should also be used to coordinate key upcoming activities such as the site visit.
The writing and drafting stages are used to ensure that the bid progresses on time and that the correct information is included. We recommend at the very least that two dedicated review stages are undergone. One must always be at the end, and the other at some point in the middle (usually after the first draft).
Reviews are used to ensure that each response includes all relevant and important information and that nothing is left out or forgotten. The final draft review incorporates a proofread and ensures that the bid’s grammar, punctuation, spelling, and syntax are all perfect.
Following the submission of your bid, it is easy to relax as all the hard work is over. It is imperative however to ensure that you hold a Lessons Learnt meeting. This meeting is a key part of the bid management process and is used to discuss the project.
- What went well?
- What went wrong?
- How can we improve?
Even if you won the contract, there is always room for improvement. Discuss this as a team (without pointing fingers) and decide what you will do differently next time. There may be additional accreditations you could look to procure, or you could improve your social value / CSR offerings for example. You could even consider hiring a consultancy to review your old responses and show how you can improve.
Your bids can only get better one from the next, so make sure you put the effort into learning from your experiences and improving.