What is bid management?
For a variety of businesses, bidding for public or private sector contracts is how they gain new clients and expand. Bid management involves overseeing the entire tender process for a business.
In order to do this successfully, having someone in charge of bid management is key - whether that is just one individual within a business or someone who manages a large team of bid writers.
For SMEs and microbusinesses, the role of a bid manager is unlikely to be someone’s main title and is more likely to be something they project manage as and when potential opportunities arise. This can be anyone from directors through to PAs, administrators or managers.
In larger businesses, however, a typical bidding team can include a bid director, bid manager, bid writers, a bid coordinator and designer. Both team sizes have their benefits - larger teams definitely have their pros as each member can provide a unique viewpoint. On the flip side, having only one person as the bid manager and writer in smaller businesses can also be an advantage, allowing for more agility and a streamlined process (whilst juggling their day job).
What does a bid manager do?
A bid manager’s job is to oversee the entire bidding process, right from selecting relevant bids through to managing the team who will be writing them. Bid managers will also contribute to the bid where relevant.
It is essential that a bid manager has a deep understanding of the commercial and operational aspects of a business. This supplies them with the knowledge they need in order to write some parts of the bid and select the best-suited contributors that can enhance the bid with their own knowledge and specific information.
Bid managers also need to understand what the tendering organisation is looking for in order to create a bid that will really prove why your company should be successful in securing the tender project.
Bid management skills
Before even putting words to paper, any good bid writer will do their research. This can include:
This is absolutely key in bid management. Bid managers will be in charge of organising relevant contributors and ensuring everything is complete on time. With multiple bids at any one time, bid managers will need to be on the ball and know how each project is progressing.
As a bid manager, your job is to communicate to the buyer why you are the best fit for their needs and ultimately influence their decision. You’ll be taking technical jargon and translating this into layman’s terms. You will also need to communicate consistently with your team to make sure everything is running smoothly.
3. Good people skills
As you’re likely to be dealing with a lot of people, great interpersonal skills are important. You’ll need to chase up contributors without being afraid of rejection, even if these are senior members of management who already have a large workload. As a manager, your job is to lead a team, so it’s essential that you can all work towards the same goal.
4. High attention to detail
Thoroughly checking bids before they are submitted can either make or break your application! Some teams may have a designated proof-reader, but most commonly bid managers have the final sign off. Often, they require official approval from the Managing Director or Board before the bid is submitted. Removing any missed spelling errors or editing notes that have been left in will ensure your bid looks as professional as possible.
Bid management tips
1. Create a writing plan / ‘style guide’
This should be distributed to all team members and will include details such as writing style, tone of voice, font and text size. This will guarantee a clean looking application. For external contributors, they may send you back their copy in a Word document that does not adhere to these guidelines, therefore it’s important that when this is copied into the bid, it fits the style you have outlined.
2. Prepare and plan
Breaking down a bid into bite-size chunks will help you to set deadlines for different contributors. This will make sure the bid is completed on deadline while allowing time for any necessary final reviews from contributors or senior management.
3. Try to get creative with design
The more engaging you can make your bid look, the better. Flow charts, organisational structures and diagrams can break down big chunks of writing and help the buyer to visualise your information better.
4. Hold regular meetings
Regular team meetings will ensure that your team is aware of the status of different bids, as well as what needs doing and when. Regular meetings also allow for any new ideas and solutions to be brought to the table.
Why is bid management important?
Bid management is important because bid writing can be a time-consuming process with various contributors involved, so it is essential that this is managed correctly in order to create a winning bid for your organisation.
Bid management can prove frustrating for businesses who do not have a sole bid manager - the individual who does this as well as their day to day job can find the process difficult to manage. It can be stressful to liaise with relevant team members who already have heavy workloads and often short deadlines can make the task seemingly impossible.
One way to aid this process is to partner with a bid management business with a strong team of tender writers who will work closely with you throughout the process to ensure you stand out from your competitors. At Thornton & Lowe, we have over a 75% win rate and will project manage bids end-to-end. We have been in business for over a decade and have worked with a variety of industries including construction, recruitment, transport, healthcare and more.
Bid management tools and software
There are various resources that can assist with bid management, such as:
1. Tender pipeline
We have created an easy-to-use tender search engine that allows users to search for specific contracts in their area. Just type your contract type and location to see a variety of results. You can take a look at who has won tenders, when they did and when they might come up for tender again.
2. Bid and tender library
Many of our clients ask us to develop or redevelop their core bid library of information and bidding collateral.
As part of our gap analysis, we will assess your previous bids and their requirements. We’ll use our best practice sections to ensure when a contract is advertised you spend time tailoring your information and adding value, rather than having to find it.
This allows our clients to quickly work from a stronger and up to date set of information which is tailored and developed for their business requirements.
We have designed a range of practical bid writing training courses delivered across Manchester, London and Birmingham that are designed to help you write a clear, concise, competitive and compelling bid, whilst earning you CPD points.
We have also invested time and resources into developing our training, which has been recognised by the institute of Leadership and Management.