A bid writer is the person within an organisation who completes PQQs and tenders in order to secure contracts for the business. It is one of the most important positions in any organisation and one which takes a special sort of person.
The hours it takes to complete a bid means that you need to be incredibly organised and dedicated. In an environment with never-ending deadlines you also need to have a cool head. A bid writer is typically responsible for completing both pre-qualification questionnaires and invitation to tender documents, required to be completed when bidding for a contract. In the public sector, this tends to follow a particular format, and can be quite time consuming.
A bid writer may work internally for a specific company and write bids in one industry, or work for a specialist bid writing firm writing bids on behalf of clients, which tend to be across multiple industries.
The first step – analyse the bid
For any contract, there will be a specific set of bid documents that need responding to. Before writing anything, research and analysis is required.
When the bid documents are released by a buyer, the bid writer needs to analyse the submission thoroughly to determine the best course of action, as well as make an informed bid/no bid decision. This may be undertaken alongside a wider bid proposal management team, perhaps the sales and marketing team, or even company directors.
Before beginning any actual writing, it can be helpful to split the tender into sections for ease of completion, and to identify any topics and win themes. Should a bid team be involved, it will then be divided amongst team members by a bid manager. Data sections and any “tick box” exercises can easily be completed once all the information is gained.
As part of the analysis, a list will be created of all required documentation and accreditations, along with any major points that need special attention. This can include word count, format, font size etc. – anything that is a requirement, and could cause the submission to fail. A checklist or bid matrix is usually created to keep track of every detail of the bid, and to track progress. Typically, you will have around a 4- to 6-week window to complete and submit your bid.
Work closely with the company
As no bid writer will have all the answers to all the questions, it is their job to work very closely with the relevant technical heads and service specialists within an organisation. This is vital to gather evidence to answer the tender, and to gain all the required technical information and possibly supporting documents.
Working closely with the company and possessing good communication skills is a necessity, in order to both create the best possible bid and create something that everyone is happy with. Typically, interviews will be conducted with specific departments and this information will be used to respond to the questions in the bid. This is true of both an internal bid writer and a professional bid writer employed on behalf of a client.
Over time the creation of a bid library will make this process easier and the bid writer can simply draw information from here. This eventually makes the process efficient and a lot simpler, especially for sections such as the PQQ questions, which are data-driven and tend to follow a similar format for most bids.
Once the bid writer has all the information needed and has collected the data for the bid, they will begin writing the bid. The initial work will lay the foundations for the final submission and after thorough quality assurance and proofing, the answers can be marked as complete.
Bid writing is incredibly creative and is a skill that is difficult to teach. It is very common for trainee or junior bid writers to shadow more experienced writers, to build up the skill over time. It requires a creative application of dry, factual information that also needs to be informative and persuasive, ultimately to score marks and win a contract. A high level of research is also required throughout.
A well-crafted bid response even has the ability to pave over potential cracks and provide assurances for any negative impressions the contracting authority may have.
Compile the documents
When all sections are completed, the documents need to be compiled. This includes all necessary policies and procedures, accreditations and any required supporting documents.
This process is a lot harder than it sounds as anything that is left out can result in a failed submission. Ultimately the bid writer is covering a number of stages: design, write, edit and then check the bid documents. This process may also involve the placing of everything into a template or custom designed bid – just another way in which a bid writer needs to be creative. Once completed, the bid can finally be submitted to the authority; typically this is done via an online portal.
It is common for organisations to outsource the bid writing process to bid writing companies, as a more time-efficient solution and to improve success rates.
How to become a bid writer?
To become a successful bid writer there are a few different routes you can take. Relevant qualifications including English at A Level or higher is generally important for the role, and a business background can help, since it is proposal writing.
It is quite a niche career and in reality bid writers can come from many different backgrounds. The individual may specialise in a certain area such as engineering or construction, especially if they write bids in that industry sector. It is very common for someone in an administrative role in an organisation to get involved in bid writing and work their way up to bid co-ordinator or junior bid writer, as they get to know the organisation and develop their skills in this area. As every organisation has to tender to work with the public sector, or secure contracts over a certain threshold, in most organisations this role is required and can be a good career path.
To work as a bid writer within a professional bid writing firm, it is imperative that you have the correct skill set and writing standard to produce bids day in, day out for many different clients.
At Executive Compass we employ professional bid writers and bid managers who have all been trained internally to meet our high standards. Using our bid writing services will guarantee your company a submission of the highest possible quality.