Create your bidding masterplan
To bid or not to bid?
Firstly, you need to decide whether to bid or not, based on a considered rationale, preferably following a fixed process, drawn up in preparation, that can be applied to all bid decisions. Carefully check you can meet the qualifying criteria and the necessary bidding requirements such as relevant insurances, certifications and memberships.
Writing a bid is costly in both time and resources – it is better to use those resources wisely to bid for contracts which are achievable. Allocating resources to fewer, worthwhile bids with a greater chance of success. Consider whether your company can deliver the service or requirement within the bid and whether you can evidence it. Question your relationship with the buyer and whether you can deliver within budget. Consider your competitors and their likely submissions. Take into account your other contracts and commitments.
Fail to plan, plan to fail
Next, planning is absolutely crucial. Begin by setting out a timetable – consider who will be writing each part of the bid, think about when and how you will submit the bid, plan which documents are necessary and ensure they are up to date. Compile the evidence required for the bid and allow time for comprehensive review. Read the specification and supporting documents thoroughly, make sure you completely understand the requirements and can respond appropriately.
Check the time & keep submission in mind
Think about submission early on in your process – read notes carefully and plan accordingly. Allow time for printing and binding if necessary, ensure you have the required materials and that your bid is delivered in plenty of time and in the correct format.
If submitting electronically, allow plenty of time to resolve any technical issues- either of your own, such as internet issues, or on the e-portal; if several bids are being submitted at the very last minute, the chances of a technical glitch are increased.
Follow the instructions and do not deviate
When writing your bid, make sure you follow instructions. Missing critical but basic instructions can have a severe impact on your bid – check for word counts, font restrictions and page limits.
Pay strict attention to detail - in a tick-box section, a tiny detail has a huge margin for error. In what appears to be a simple exercise lies the chance to make a silly but costly mistake.
Presentation is everything
Consider the style and presentation of your bid- after all; the bid is a reflection of you and your business. Consider drawing up a “House Style”, think about sentence length and vocabulary used carefully, ensure you have defined any acronyms or abbreviations and avoid jargon.
Make your bid stand out, for example, consider the use of flow diagrams, tables and photographs where appropriate. Imagery can often prove more effective than large paragraphs.
Every bid should be written as if it is the first bid you have written and that the client is new to you and your business, regardless of whether you are the incumbent or not.
Always consider the buyer’s perspective when writing; about what they are looking for in a potential supplier. Think about what you would look for in a potential supplier and apply the same influences.
Copy & paste: time saving or a big no?
With a Bid Library of previous bids, it is very tempting to copy and paste. Each bid is entirely unique, so ensure that if you have copied and pasted from previous bids you have carefully read the questions and tailored your answers to meet this bids specific requirements.
Make sure any data, statistics, certifications and qualifications are up-to-date, accurate and appropriate for each bid. Ensure that any policies are signed by an appropriate manager or director and have a review date included, demonstrating your business is proactive and forward thinking.
Consider carefully whether recycled material is strictly relevant; the assessor is interested only in specific information so edit judiciously.
Evidence is essential
Evidence is absolutely crucial and can make all the difference to your success. Where applicable, anything you write about in your bid should be backed up with evidence. Make sure you utilise the full word count to demonstrate the depth of your response within the bid itself and ensure you use any allowance for supporting documents to further enhance this.
Check that any required supporting documents or attachments are compliant, clear and of high quality. Without clear, accurate and comprehensive evidence, the assessor will be unable to fully evaluate your bid.
Review, re-read and quality check
Make sure you have left enough time for comprehensive review. A rigorous Quality Assessment process ensures a bid is consistent and compliant, particularly when it has been written by several people. It helps ensure that all required information is included and that any errors or inconsistencies have been resolved.
Thornton & Lowe offer a variety of services to assist you with bids and tenders; from Bid Writing to Bid Management, Bid Review to assisting you to compile your own Bid Library. In addition, we offer Bid Writing training courses nationwide, designed to help your business increase success rates. Further, we have a Bid Resource division to help you find specialist staff to help your business grow.