After an interesting 2016, we have reached the New Year: time for a New Year’s resolution (even if you do drop it very quickly), alongside that age-old commitment to detox and go to the gym more often! For many businesses, it’s a chance to do their own detox by reviewing existing working practices to determine areas for improvement and gain a strong foothold for the forthcoming year. Bid writing and tendering is one of the key areas that should be given attention. By focusing on the following points, you can evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your processes:
Overall success rates
Consider the total number of bids you submitted last year, including how many you won and lost (both on quality and price). How does this correspond with your aims or targets for the year and your projected financial growth? As bid writers, we frequently review our performance to assess the quality of our output for clients, and our overall success rates. Only by benchmarking and comparing performance levels can you identify how to improve your success rates, so this area should be your starting point.
✓ Successful bids
Look through the bids you won to examine your performance — were you the clear winner, or did you just scrape through? Even in victory, we sometimes learn lessons on what could have been done differently. Consider both the positive and negative aspects of each submission, including the quality of content, clarity of message and the proven benefits of your approach when compared to your rival bidders.
Strengthen key aspects as fully as possible to maximise your scores and overall chances of success, especially as the relative uncertainty of pricing means that even a high score may not prevent you from losing based on the commercial section of the submission. Analysis should be based on both experience of the bid writing process and feedback from evaluators, who will often detail how well your bid performed against the marking criteria, including missing information they would like to have seen in each response.
X Unsuccessful bids
You should also review the bids you lost, and why. If you lost on quality, and your commercial sections scored well, then you might be required to improve your responses drastically to ensure they contain the correct content and a clear message, and that they reflect the benefits your organisation can offer. Whilst it is sometimes hard to re-read poor responses, taking an honest and reflective approach is essential to drive up quality standards.
Losing on the commercial section of a tender can be frustrating, especially if you know you have a set of strong responses that can be adapted to each submission. Therefore, examine these responses to see where they could be strengthened further as they could be only a few points away from full marks. Updating case studies, statistics or introducing new technologies is an easy way of doing this and is a good way of keeping your bid library updated.
Staff knowledge and experience
Reviews of bid writing processes and responses provides a good indicator of the knowledge of both your writers and the staff responsible for reviewing/signing off the project. Common areas such as health and safety, social value or completing PQQs/tenders, as well as specialist topics like the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 may not be as well-known to your team as you would like. Therefore, consider whether additional training is required to help refresh and enhance existing staff knowledge, and organise it as soon as possible. External training is a good investment, as you can speak to professional bid writers and use their expertise to increase overall staff competence levels.
Use these tips to improve the quality of your bid writing process and output. Given the large number of contracts available and number of companies bidding for the same work, you should always look to improve your chances of success!