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Case study: Framework for architectural services

A diverse range of tender documents of differing sizes and complexities pass across our desks each month at Executive Compass. This latest case study gives you an insight into the challenges you might face.

Project overview

The project involved the completion of a supply chain invitation to tender for an architectural consultancy framework commissioned by a national, private sector organisation who manage the design, build and financing of developments in the later living sector.

Our client is a small, award-winning architectural practice which has been steadily growing over the previous five years and is targeting frameworks as part of its growth strategy. They approached us to develop compelling and convincing responses to the quality questions which reflected their experience in the sector. Our role was also to provide support while their resources were constrained – the tender was undertaken during the COVID-19 lockdown with their staff working remotely and several juggling parenting and work responsibilities.

Challenges

An immediate review of the documents highlighted a number of important considerations with the submission, including:

  • Private sector – It’s common that pricing can hold greater weight in the private sector as organisations are more commercially minded. However, the evaluation for this submission was 65% quality and 35% price, demonstrating the strong focus the commissioning authority placed on the tenderer’s ability to deliver projects successfully and in line with the brief.
  • Tight deadline – The turnaround time for the submission was two weeks, which included a Bank Holiday weekend, requiring excellent communication between the bid writer and the client, and also effective project management to ensure information was gathered, responses were completed with sufficient time for the client to review and the final documents compiled.
  • Experience – A strong emphasis of the submission was the need to demonstrate experience of developing projects which mirrored the scope of works. This included a specific focus on value for money initiatives, risk management, standardisation of designs and how challenges were handled. In addition, it was important to convey the strength of architectural design and place-making for individual schemes in terms of aesthetics, planning and site constraints, usability and adaptability. The key to this was talking not just about what they had done, but how their approach and the lessons learned would be applied to benefit projects procured through this framework.
  • Evidence – A raft of supporting evidence was required, including detailed CVs of all team members in addition to the usual policies and procedures and financial checks. The number of CVs was strictly limited and on face value their inclusion might seem like an add-on. However, careful consideration was needed to ensure the team put forward addressed the various roles and responsibilities required while demonstrating a breadth of experience, knowledge and qualifications to ensure a cost-effective service.
  • Complexity – The size, value, specification and requirements for projects being delivered through the framework will vary depending on project partners and end users. As such, it was important to convey throughout the responses the wide range of experience, depth of expertise and ability to interpret and respond to client requirements while at the same time adding value throughout the design development.
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Bid writing support

Our approach involved breaking the project down into a series of steps and working collaboratively with the client to gather the necessary information and develop a set of high-quality responses. The process involved:

  • Remote working – The timing of the submission, during the COVID-19 lockdown, meant both the client team and the Executive Compass team (including bid writer, quality manager, reviewer and proofreader) were all working remotely. Despite this, we worked to our trusted processes, albeit using tools such as Microsoft Teams and arranging calls to suit everyone’s changing work patterns, actively encouraging all members of the team to continually communicate even with small questions and queries. Our usual approach – including a kick-off call to map out the bid process and discuss win themes, comprehensive answer planning establishing fully the supporting evidence required for each response and regular reporting of progress – was followed throughout.
  • Responses – A key challenge associated with the submission was the need to emphasise how the client’s experience and track record in the sector would add value. This meant being explicit about what made its projects award winning, the rationale for the team it was assigning to the framework and clearly explaining the benefits its approach would bring to this contract and all stakeholders.
  • Meeting the deadline – By planning carefully in advance, a clear timeline was established for gathering information and producing the draft responses. The key to this was our ‘rolling’ review process, where responses were sent to the client as they were completed, avoiding a situation where they were overloaded with a deluge of information to read close to the submission deadline.
  • Supporting documents – It is often tempting to dive in and answer the questions first, leaving the gathering of supporting documents and evidence to the end. However, in this instance supporting information such as project photographs, 3D renderings and detailed CVs were required from the client. By flagging this up at the outset they were able to divide responsibilities up amongst their team with a detailed document request matrix used to support the process.

This case study highlights some of the key considerations when preparing a tender submission and the types of detail that many private sector authorities require from potential providers. It also emphasises that, even during these changing times, collaborative working is just as effective even when it’s done remotely.

To see how we can assist your business, fill out our contact form and one of our bid team will be in touch to discuss your requirements. Alternatively, you can call us free on 0800 612 5563.

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