Picture the scene: two months ago you retained a contract you had with the local authority, and you’ve just finished the mobilisation period of a newly acquired one. Everything in your business is going swimmingly, and now you can continue with your routine of expert contract management, and following through on quality assurance duties.
You’re in a good place; but it can always be made even better. The space between tender writing is the perfect time to make sure you are prepared for your next bid submission.
Review your references, referees, and contract examples
There’s no substitute for experience, so it is a good idea to review your past contracts and identify key information in each of them: where did you exceed KPI expectations? What innovations did you offer? Is there anything you were particularly proud of? Answering each of these questions will help to capture the successes of the contract. Drilling down into specifics will help you further, and can make all the difference in demonstrating capability for future contracts, even if you don’t have identical examples. You may not have provided residential care working with service users with autistic spectrum disorder, but you may have worked on a residential care contract and a separate domiciliary care contract for autistic service users.
We can all empathise with the frustration of returned emails, mail, or even receiving text messages from unknown telephone numbers. Consequently, it’s in your best interests to update the contact details of your referees to make sure prospective enquiries are directed to the correct audience.
Whether successful or unsuccessful, you should always request and review feedback from the authority. You may have been awarded the contract, but it may not have been by many points. The points you lost may have been awarded for something you already do, but had omitted to mention. Feedback can also help you to understand what competitors are doing, allowing you to refine your own operational capacity, or explain the benefits of your alternative approach.
Build your bid library
As you bid more, you will notice recurring themes, whether across sectors, such as quality and performance management, or more specific areas (information governance on NHS contracts, or resident liaison arrangements in facilities management and cleaning). Knowledge of your sector’s specifics will allow you to extract key bits of information, or particularly high scoring responses and compile them in topic-specific folders in your bid library. Not only will this make the writing process quicker, it will allow you to capitalise on previous successes. When combined with authority feedback, your bid library will be refined and primed, ready for your next tender.
No one knows your company like you do, but this should be treated with caution. A newly implemented strategy, widget, or application may not be new to you, but it may be new to your prospective client. As a result, down time between tendering opportunities allows you to review your organisation from the ground up, and make sure that you are presenting it as it is, and not as it was. Make doubly sure to do this where you are the incumbent, as your organisation is likely to have changed significantly in the two or three years since contract commencement.
Benjamin Franklin allegedly stated that ‘by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail’, a quote which has since been echoed by every teacher, lecturer, tutor, mentor, sensei, and guru. Whilst it is a cliché, it is certainly a good principle to follow between procurement processes.
Fortunately, as well as offering bid writing services, we can also help you to review and strengthen your bids, using the experience we have gained over billions of pounds’ worth of contracts to help you refine, refresh and reorganise your bid library.