If your organisation depends upon winning contracts through the bid and tender process, you will already be fully aware that it is an expensive and time consuming.
For many companies, plunging time and company resources into each tender process involves a high cost, often with no return other than constructive feedback. Whilst this is always very valuable and lessons can be learned, it is not likely to guarantee the continued existence of the business.
Whilst there can be a multitude of approaches to producing a bid, those that approach it in a systematic and structured manner find their success ratio vastly increased. Not only does effective bid management increase your chances of producing more successful bids, it also aids in driving down costs, both in terms of time and financial resources. Approaching opportunities with the ‘scattergun’ system is the biggest mistake you can make. You may be successful on the odd occasion, but on the whole, your bids will lack thoroughness and direction.
The bid management process should be formalised and integrated with the other fundamental systems and processes that help drive your business. By having a standardised procedure or system in place the moment an opportunity arises, you are already many steps ahead of your competition.
Major elements to consider when developing your bid management system are:
• Ensuring that all documents, policies, references and financial information are up to date and stored in a secure place where responsible parties have instant access. Perhaps utilise a computer or web based system that manages and controls all important documents.
• Allocation of duties – whether you outsource to a professional bid management company or keep your bid management in house, always ensure that key people know their part in the process and ensure they are fully trained to competently carry out their duties.
• Competitor analysis and client research – this needs to be carried out for every opportunity. Ensure there is a dedicated process, including timeframe, for carrying out this research. Act upon the research and ensure it is incorporated into your bid.
• Assign the responsibility of communicating with the client to one or a handful of responsible people. This includes client briefings, written correspondence and face-to-face meetings. All communications should be kept with the bid documents for easy referral. It is useful if initial briefings are attended by everyone involved.
• Deadlines and tender size should be considered at the outset. Each bid will be different and your bid management system should include the task of analysing both elements and developing a credible schedule. Everyone involved must be aware of this and work to it.
• Briefings/debriefings – these should be regular throughout the process. Briefings and updates should be documented and stored within the bid file. Slack areas can be picked up during these sessions and rectified before they become an issue. Areas of clarification can be raised and addressed to the client in a timely manner.
Of course like any system, it is not likely to work perfectly first time and this is not a comprehensive programme. Each time a tender is considered, it is a valuable opportunity to tweak, refine and improve the system. Each organisation will also have a different culture so it is important to develop a system that is right for your budget, organisational culture and staff. As your bid management system develops, you will begin to notice lower costs, a faster and more organised completion time and, hopefully, a large increase in successful submissions.