How to be a Successful Bid Manager for Rail Tenders
Published 24/02/2021
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How to be a successful bid manager in the rail industry
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If you’re a bid manager for rail contracts, you know what the end of the railways franchise means for business. 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
- Company CVs
- Financial Accounts
- High quality written responses
- Evidence of relevant qualifications, accreditations and policies
- Pricing documents.

Any bid manager in the rail industry 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 any bid management strategy – 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:

- Submission date and time
- Site visits
- Clarification deadlines
- Presentation dates.

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 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. 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:

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 even more applicable now more than ever due to the increase in employees working from home. Regular meetings provide time for your colleagues to voice any concerns or share useful information with each other.

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.

Record progress

Recording your progress is not only useful but satisfying too. Making a checklist and being able to check off once a task has been completed 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.

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.

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.
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About The Author

Hudson is a global provider of tendering and procurement solutions. The Hudson Group is split into eight strands, allowing us to help businesses at every level. No matter the size or industry, we help companies, both nationally and internationally, to reach their full potential. Our team has decades of experience, helping companies to find and win the contracts they want to deliver. Last year alone, we secured over £300 million in direct contract wins for our clients.

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