This week’s blog post is from one of our specialist health and social care bid writers. We look at the bid writing process and how it works in practice, using a current supported living tender as a case study.
Background into health and social care
Each month up to 40% of the projects we work on are related to health and social care; this includes disciplines such as supported living, domiciliary care, extra care, supported accommodation and residential care. We have written bids for organisations across the UK and specifically tailor our writing to highlight the organisation’s strengths and successes.
Before this project, we had worked with the client, a newly established supported living service in the Midlands, on a tender in Staffordshire. Having seen the value in our work, the client wanted us to write a larger, 16,500-word bid for them for a supported living service in the Midlands. This bid was to enter an open framework for the particular city council, so there was no strict deadline, but we understood that the sooner the project was completed, the sooner the client could potentially win business from the tender.
Investigating the specification
Before the bid writing can begin it is imperative that the writer has a good understanding of the service specification, the scope, and the specific requirements that the local authority may have. Bids can be won or lost by small margins, so our writers comb through the specification, highlighting important intricacies, flagging any questions to ask the client. Once the specification has been annotated, the writer creates a detailed question plan, breaking down each into parts, so they can be answered in detail. This particular project had six main questions requiring 2,500 words of narrative each, and a seventh of 1,500 words, and focussed on the following topics:
• Past experience
• The service model
• Service user independence
• Social value.
One of the most important parts of our bid writing process is the information sourcing between the writer and the client; here the writer asks questions to guide the conversation, ensuring that all the important information about the organisation (and all details of the questions) are covered. We record these calls or online meetings, so that the writer can listen back to them to make notes and capture the key information.
One of the challenges with the Midlands supported living tender was that two of the seven questions related to previous experience, and the client had only been operating under their brand for four months. As a result, much of the discussion centred on highlighting the outcomes that they had achieved, using the director’s past experiences when they were running a previous care company; this information proved invaluable in the writing process, and the responses fulfilled all the criteria of the questions.
We pride ourselves on regular clear communication with our clients, and during all our initial information gathering calls, our writers outline the writing process, proposing a clear timeline for responses to be sent to the client, and generally answer all questions they may have.
Bid writing process
The challenge of writing a successful bid lies in capturing the essence of the organisation you are writing for, reflecting their values, practices and successes, whilst answering the questions fully and in a compelling manner. Our writers are all trained to write clearly yet persuasively, and whilst the word count seemed generous, the 13 sub-sections of some of the questions in the Midlands tender meant that words had to be allocated tactically. In our role as bid writers we must prioritise key information, set out clearly for the evaluator, for our bid to score the most marks available.
The review process
A bid writer constructs questions one at a time, with the dedicated reviewer using their experience of bid writing and the industry in question (health and social care in this case) to propose amendments to be made which would improve the response. Once they have added comments, suggestions, and made small alterations themselves, it is sent back to the writer to make these changes. Only once all the changes have been implemented is it sent to our in-house proofreader, who gives it a final check before our client sees the response.
The final phase involves working with the client collaboratively, ensuring that it accurately represents their organisation, making suggestions for additions where necessary. In the case of the Midlands tender, the client filled in a few details which we integrated before handing the responses over to be submitted.
Now that the tender has been submitted we await the results, and are prepared to assist the client with the mini-competition phase which occurs after they are successful in entering the framework.
Bid writing support for health and social care tenders
Our PQQ, bid and tender support is diverse, and can range from bespoke training delivered to your team, to reviewing a bid or PQQ you have written yourself, or writing the entire bid on your behalf. Whichever you might need assistance with, contact our team today to discuss how we can support you to secure more health and social care contracts.