Regardless of whether you are a frequent bidder or more selective when tendering for a contract, a bid library is an essential component of your bid writing toolkit. However, responses can soon become outdated, irrelevant or otherwise unusable, thus regular and thorough maintenance and improvement of the bid library is required.
As per our bid-writing glossary, a bid library serves as a database of model answers, case studies from previous tenders and common policies/procedures/supporting documentation to create efficiencies within the tender process. A bid library is an essential point of reference for ideas, insights and best practice when writing the quality section of a live tender.
Regular reviews are essential to ensure your tender remains competitive – a lax approach to updating and refining content runs the risk of an uncompetitive bid, leading to significant loss of time and resources or even the loss of a ‘must-win’ submission.
In this blog, we outline tips for maintaining and improving your organisation’s bid library, ensuring the most effective use of your time and maximising benefits for future bid and tender submissions.
Make sure it’s the right time to schedule a review
Choosing the correct time to examine existing material is essential in order to maximise the productivity of the library review/refresh. Although this can be challenging – tenders are published all year round, with no ‘off-peak’ period in the calendar year – it is important to be strategic with your time. For example, choosing to review your bid library during a live project will impact the time available for other steps, such as thoroughly reading the tender documents, producing answer plans and drafting/reviewing the responses.
Consequently, agree to a project-specific team in advance of a live tender, and ensure that they have sufficient time to complete a thorough evaluation of the bid library’s content. This should not be viewed as unproductive or a simple admin task – the review will save significant time and create efficiencies for future bids, and will need input from the specific skills and expertise your bid team possesses.
Prioritise and order responses based on evaluator feedback
Although the level of feedback can vary depending on the contract authority in question or number of bidders, there will typically be some specific and useful information contained within the post-submission tender feedback. Responses which receive high marks from evaluators should form the foundation of your bid library – this enables you to understand precisely what authorities are looking for when reviewing tenders.
When prioritising these responses, consider the reasons why evaluators identified specific content as deserving of high marks or contract award. This could comprise:
- Detailed descriptions of specific processes or procedures, including how your complaints resolution process, on-site inspections of works in progress or mobilisation period would be completed
- Proposals for added value which you would bring to the contract, such as supporting systems which may be reaching obsolescence or the end-of-life cycle
- Providing appendices or additional evidence to substantiate your claims by using client testimonials, photographic evidence or reports of previous works/services.
Previous bid submissions and feedback should be saved separately from model answers. This allows a clearer assessment of individual tenders and minimises the risk of using lower-scoring content.
Incorporate changes to procurement practice
Bid and tender writing is a fast-paced and constantly changing industry, meaning that existing content and previous quality responses can soon become irrelevant or uncompetitive. Equally, new topics soon become standard and commonplace across multiple authorities, sometimes as a result of legislative updates. Recent examples of new subjects our writers have already begun to encounter within tenders consist of:
- Biodiversity net gain: From November 2023, medium- and large-sized construction developments will be required to deliver a 10% increase in biodiversity health to sites. This will be measured over 30 years by a competent individual, such as a qualified ecologist.
- Maintaining the ‘golden thread’: A review of the events and practices which led to the Grenfell Tower fire resulted in the Building Safety Act 2022, which mandates that all qualifying buildings must maintain a ‘golden thread’ of information to promote safety and mitigate potential risks.
- Carbon reduction efforts: Following the introduction of PPN 06/21 and PPN 03/23, all central government opportunities with an estimated value exceeding £5 million per annum must include a response of bidders’ efforts to reduce carbon emissions within the SQ.
Additional material to supplement responses can also be a welcome addition to a well-stocked bid library. Copies of certifications, before/after photographs of completed works and CVs of key staff members (such as contract managers and supervisors) are good examples of supplementary material to include. This will save time hunting around for the necessary documents and appendices, eliminating unnecessary stress or pressure when working to tight deadlines.
Remember that using a bid library is different from copying and pasting
It is always crucial to remember that a bid library is a point of reference rather than a source of previous tender submissions to be simply copied and pasted.
The risks inherent to a ‘copy/paste’ approach include:
- Failing to align responses with the wording of the question or contract specification, resulting in irrelevant content and decreased marks from the evaluators
- Unintentionally including outdated company information, such as a previous job management system or staff who are no longer with the organisation
- Ignoring recent innovations or changes to working practice, resulting in a less competitive and current response which may then be marked down
- Inconsistencies in the style and ‘voice’ of a submission, resulting from a patchwork of content produced by different writers.
Ultimately, a bid library can be an invaluable resource in supporting the growth strategy of your business. Done incorrectly, such as through liberal and flagrant use of copy and paste, it could ultimately result in costing you a contract win, the additional revenue and potential relationships with key buyers within your industry.
Supporting you with bid and tender submissions
Our team of expert bid and tender writers are highly experienced in navigating bid libraries and working with existing content to produce high-quality, winning submissions. This is evidenced by our 75% repeat business rate, demonstrating how we successfully maintain and improve bid libraries for our clients.
For further information on how we can support you with bid and tender writing or review services, our sales and marketing team are contactable via email firstname.lastname@example.org or at 0800 612 5563.
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