We take a look at how to maintain quality and consistency when undertaking a collaborative tender writing process.
Bid writing and preparing tenders is always to some extent a collaboration. As bid writers, we work closely with clients to tailor unique responses, using interviews to include specific details and avoid the trap of generic, cut-and-paste responses. At Executive Compass, too, we work with internal quality reviewers, who use their own knowledge and experience to improve responses. However, we also work collaboratively with other bid writers, particularly if a tender is particularly large or if the deadline is particularly tight – or both, as is sometimes the case.
The quote “a camel is a horse designed by a committee” is often used to denigrate collaborative and team working, especially in creative industries, and while there are challenges to be managed, there are also huge benefits to this way of working. Not least is knowledge sharing. While as bid writers we are trained and experienced in a huge variety of industries, from security to construction to transport to care, naturally as writers we have specific areas of expertise and knowledge that is shared during tender writing. Working together and sharing knowledge during the tender writing process leads to more innovative ideas and, ultimately, strengthens the response and the team as a whole.
How to manage collaborative tender writing
Firstly, a lead writer needs to be assigned to a PQQ or ITT. While it is a collaboration, someone needs to oversee the project and hold responsibility for completion to the deadline. Whether it’s a team of two or five writers working on a bid, one person should be in charge. The lead writer will then:
- Contact the client, including conducting a call to discuss the bid and sending responses. Having one point of contact makes things easier and clearer for the client but also for the writer, allowing us to stay on top of the project.
- Assign individual responses. No matter the size of the project, each writer needs to know which response they are writing. Sometimes a writer has a preference based on their knowledge and experience, but clarity is always helpful and means you don’t end up with two answers to the same question.
- Oversee and check progress. Deadlines wait for no one, and the lead writer needs to consistently check that the bid is going to plan and that the team are working well together.
Having a clear approach from the beginning allows the team to work at their best, without confusion or delays adding to the stress.
Collecting and sharing information
Key to preparing a bid is research. This includes close reading of the tender documents, client calls and emails, and online research of a company, buyer/authority and news stories affecting an industry. The point of collaborative writing is to work as a team; it’s not competitive so there’s no value in hoarding information.
As such, relevant information should be shared. This can either be through conversations, face-to-face or via Teams, or through Teams chats. We also record the calls with the client which means everyone working on a project has access to the same initial information. Similarly, emails to and from the client should be forwarded to everyone on the team, ensuring everyone is on the same page and kept up to date.
Writing is, and should be, creative. Each writer has their own style, their own quirks and preferences which are not blunted through our house style. However, this can look unprofessional and lack the cohesion required for a strong bid if styles and the look of a response are wildly different.
Creating a response template can help this. Without strict authority guidelines, we can change the look and feel of a response by including company branding, certification logos and customised colours. Setting this up at the beginning of a project allows all the writers to write from the same starting point: not only will they all have access to the same knowledge and information, but they can also write it using a template that looks appropriate and unified. This will also save time with final checks towards submission.
Before sending to the client, each writer and then the lead writer should do final checks, acting as a safety net and guaranteeing the bid is professional and works together as a whole. Checking each tender response before it’s sent and submitted prevents small mistakes, ensures consistency across responses, and saves time for the client.
The goal is to write the strongest bid and working together, utilising different perspectives and strengths, can produce a better response. Clarity and communication throughout are key, and far from diluting a bid or leading to conflict, collaborative writing can improve responses and provide a valuable opportunity to learn and grow as a writer.
To find out how we can support you during the tender writing process contact our team today.
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