I recently made the change from in-house Bid Writer to Bid Consultant and I wasn’t expecting there to be much difference. I was wrong and the change of position got me thinking about the difference between in-house and consultancy bidding.
Specialist vs Generalist
As an in-house Bid Writer, within a few months, I could recite the company’s address and VAT number. Similarly, I knew their business continuity response from memory.
As a consultant, you become involved with a wide variety of industries on a daily basis. One day you could be completing a bid in healthcare and the next for a complex technology company. The role is constantly evolving. However, the ‘unpredictability’ of bid consultancy makes it one of the most exciting/challenging roles within the industry.
Unknown vs Recognised
Bids are often alien to most people and one of the main differences between in-house and consultancy bidding is the role itself. In-house bid teams often float around various departments receiving blank expressions from colleagues when you say you work within the bid team.
“Bid? What’s That?”
It seems that in-house bid writers almost operate ‘behind the scenes’. Other employees tend to not fully understand the bid team’s role in business operations. In-house bid roles also usually require you to become involved with other aspects of the company’s operations (e.g. marketing/legal). Therefore you may be asked to do tasks that may fall outside of your usual day job.
Within consultancy, you hold a position of trust for your clients who require your expertise. They may have limited knowledge of bids, but they at least know that you exist and are there to help. However, you may still be exposed to other opportunities within the business too and that has definitely been the case for me.
Opportunities in Consultancy
Working in consultancy has helped me strengthen my customer service skills. Through increased customer communication and management, my confidence has grown. Most importantly, it has also allowed me to gain exposure in the commercial aspects of bidding too.
With my previous in-house role, apart from the odd conversation with various procurement teams, customer engagement was not necessary. Truth be told, I missed the customer-facing responsibility. As a consultant, customer engagement and management is key to ensuring a bid runs as smoothly as possible. I enjoy working with different clients, and the sense of pride and achievement you get when they are successful is like no other.
Similarly, to in-house bidding, you are often required to get involved with tasks that may not form part of your job spec. From commercial aspects to marketing, working within a consultancy firm has allowed me to develop my experience across a number of different avenues within the bidding industry, that an in-house role might have not.
So, in conclusion, the answer to the in-house vs consultancy question isn’t simple. It depends entirely on you and your preferences. If you’re looking for a ‘behind the scenes’ role that involves securing numerous lucrative projects, perhaps an in-house role is for you. Yet, if you like to engage with a diverse selection of customers and enjoy holding a position of trust, then perhaps consultancy is the route to follow. Either way, both roles require good organisation and time management skills and will offer a variety of different experiences to help you grow your skillset.
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