Your bid management process and approach are crucial to achieving winning results. When entering into the tendering process, you should first consider how you will manage the work. For many industries, it isn’t simply a case of providing a quick quote and moving on. In the majority of cases, buyers will require:
- High-quality written responses.
- Case studies.
- Evidence of accreditations and/or qualifications.
- Company CVs.
- Pricing documents.
You must craft, collate and submit the requirements to the highest possible standard. In order to do this, you need an airtight bid management process.
The 6-stage process
1. Sourcing the right opportunities for your business
Finding opportunities can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. There are thousands of websites that publish tendering opportunities across the UK. In order to efficiently source the right tender for your business, you must analyse your goals and eligibility. For example, ask yourself the following:
- Which types of contracts do I want to deliver?
- What are my service delivery capabilities? This could be geographical. How far can you travel and still make a profit?
- Do I have at least three previous contract examples that demonstrate my ability to deliver similar work?
- What is my economic and financial standing? Or, in other words, what threshold am I working within?
Answering these questions will help you and your team to efficiently make your bid or no-bid decision.
2. Breaking down the specification
So, you’ve found a tender that you would like to bid for. What comes next in the bid management process?
At this stage, it’s likely that you have scanned the requirements and briefly read the specification. Now, it’s time to take a much more in-depth look at the details. You need to be sure that you are eligible and that you possess the required evidence/information. On page 54 of the specification, there could be a requirement that you cannot meet, such as turnover. Failing to fully read and digest the requirements could result in wasting time in the long run.
Breaking down the specification will also allow you to establish timescales. The word count for the required responses will help you estimate how much time needs to be assigned to each question. A good benchmark would be that the average bid writer can produce around 2,000 words per day.
3. Collating information in advance
If the responses require evidence of financial accounts or case studies, you may need to liaise with other departments. If this is the case, make sure you leave plenty of time to collate the required documents. You don’t want to be rushing at the last minute because you didn’t give Fred from accounts enough time. Always set a slightly earlier deadline for yourself and others to ensure you are ready in time for the submission of bids.
4. Finalising and proofreading
Once your written responses, supporting evidence and pricing are complete, it’s time to proofread. It could be tempting to just submit the work you have done and move onto the next bid. However, you may end up submitting a tender full of errors and ultimately fail. You will then have wasted all the time spent crafting the responses for the sake of a few extra hours.
Check, check and check again. Ask someone unattached to the project to review your work. It’s likely that they will find errors you have missed.
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.
6. The results
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 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.
Does your team have the right skills?
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 on 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.
Technical and concise writing capabilities
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.
Strategising and planning your moves
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.
Working smarter with these tools
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. 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 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:
- Policies and procedures.
- Accreditations and certificates.
- Company CVs.
- Case studies that you anticipate will have relevance to the tenders you choose to bid for.
- Responses that you frequently use in your previous tenders.
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 of bid writing consultancy to help you respond to a relevant tender.
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 free, online learning platform for all things tendering related. The masterclasses are led by bid writing and bid design experts. Topics include:
- Time management
- Assertive writing
- Framework agreements
- Site visits
- Soft market testing
- Bid libraries
- Feedback from buyers
5 tips for improving your success rate
1. Hold regular meetings
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 currently as most businesses are working remotely. There are many software platforms which host team meetings that 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.
2. Set earlier deadlines
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.
3. Record progress
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.
4. Establish roles and responsibilities
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.
5. Ensure contingency by proofreading
When a bid has been written by multiple people, it’s important to ensure contingency. When proofreading, you should already be checking for:
- Spelling errors.
- Grammatical errors.
- Whether or not the response answers the question.
- Correctly labelled supporting documents.
However, you should also assess the flow of the bid. Are the facts and statistics the same? Is the font consistent?