A Bid Library is a valuable resource to your business – if used effectively.
What is a Bid Library?
When you’re working to a deadline writing a bid, wouldn’t it be reassuring to know that you have a repository of vital, current documents to hand, with model answers to questions that regularly appear in your tender submissions? That is what a Bid Library is… a tool which, when used effectively, has the potential to save you time and improve your success rates.
How could a Bid Library help my business?
Firstly, with all the required, up-to-date documents you need kept in one place, you will save time locating information. With a series of model responses to frequently-asked tender questions to hand, you can avoid unnecessarily duplicating effort. By constantly updating these answers with feedback you receive, you will gradually refine your responses, improve the quality of your bids and improve your success rates. You will be creating a resource that ensures continuity of information and expertise for your business should key staff move on; a resource accessible when required, not dependant on the availability of individuals.
Many of our clients ask Thornton & Lowe to help establish or redevelop their core bid library of information and bid collateral. We do not advocate a “copy and paste” method of bid writing- each tender is unique and must be treated as such. However, with key information and responses to hand, you can spend your time tailoring specific answers to questions and adding value, rather than starting from scratch or looking for the right documents.
Of course, the caveat is that your Bid Library must be well maintained. Certificates, insurance documents and accreditations must be updated when renewed, documents such as CV’s and policies must be regularly reviewed and amended as changes occur. Submitted bids and tenders must be catalogued, as must feedback. The feedback must be used to refine model answers. Case studies, testimonials and references must be kept up-to-date. The Bid Library needs to be well organised and accessible, and roles need to be defined as to whose responsibility it is to keep sections updated.
So, where do we start?
The worst time to be pulling everything together is when working to a deadline writing a bid. At the same time, there’s no point waiting for a quiet period that may never come. We believe one of the most crucial parts of writing a bid is in the planning… and this is key here too.
If you have previous submissions, examine them closely. Analyse the requirements and plan which documents you need to pull together – those you already have and those you must create. Plan a system to store the information and plan how it may be accessed and by whom. Identify who will be responsible for updating each section – after all, sharing the work will ensure that each section is populated by a person with specialised knowledge of it. Delegate roles and responsibilities accordingly.
What should a Bid Library contain?
Everything that you regularly need to submit bids. Insurance schedules and accreditation certificates as well as policy and procedures statements which are commonly required – for example Health and Safety, Equality and Diversity, Environmental, Business Continuity and Data Protection. You may also need up-to-date CV’s, profiles of key team members and organisational charts. Relevant, carefully chosen Case Studies of previous contracts should highlight your company’s strengths, and testimonials must be kept updated.
Copies of previous bids, with resulting feedback – whether you were successful or not – should be added. A series of Model Answers will be the most dynamic and flexible part of your Bid Library. These should include answers to commonly occurring questions based on your previous submissions, and must be constantly reviewed to reflect subsequent feedback. With each new bid, these answers may be used form the basis for a response, but will require careful examination to ensure that the correct information is tailored specifically to answer the question in the most accurate and advantageous way possible.
This is not an exhaustive list. By studying your own previous submissions, you will be able to best judge the requirements for your business. Using a Bid Library correctly, you can improve efficiency and save time in the short term. In the longer term, reflecting on feedback and using it to review and adapt your responses should be a real asset for improving your success rates.
Thornton & Lowe have years of Bid Writing experience. We can advise our clients how to move forward with all aspects of Bid Management, and can offer Bid Training to help your organisation to improve success rates. Our Bid Resource division can help source the ideal candidate for your business should you be looking to increase your bidding capacity. Contact us today on 01204 238046 or email firstname.lastname@example.org/ to discuss how we can help.