How can the Bid Management Process be Improved?

How can the Bid Management Process be Improved?

The UK public sector buys around £300 Billion worth of goods and services annually, procured via some 17,000 new contracts awarded to private and third sector providers each year. Each contract is awarded through the process of competitive tendering and interested parties are invited to submit their bid for the contract in the form of a written tender. The best bid wins. Bid Management provides the leadership and coordination required by a Bid team when tendering for such contracts.  It stands to reason that any actions that serve to improve the bid management process will improve the outcomes from bidding accordingly. With such significant business riding on the outcomes, improving the bid management process should be a priority.

So, how can the bid management process be improved? First, start with a Bid Strategy. The Bid Strategy needs to be the touchstone for every bid. Second, renew a commitment to technical methods. Third, adopt a business-wide view. Bidding is not undertaken in isolation.

How Do You Manage a Bid Process?

During the bid process, there are typically three main areas of focus for the Bid Manager. These are: Compliance, Strategy and Delivery.

Compliance

Compliance is concerned with ensuring that the bid, the bidder and the product/service offered meet the minimum requirements set by the buyer. Compliance is a prerequisite to a successful bid.  These requirements are specific to the given bid at hand and vary widely from one bid to the next. They include (variously): submission time and method, form of tender, mandatory documentation, bidder status and credentials, Pricing, quality assurance, industry standards and myriad other specific requirements. Failure to comply with any one requirement will automatically render the entire bid disqualified, a disastrous outcome; All that hard work only to be knocked out ‘on a technicality’. Assuring Compliance is a matter of diligence. In this regard you can never be too diligent.

Strategy

Where Compliance is a binary Pass/Fail, Bid Strategy has no constraints. Bidders are free to develop their Strategy limited only by relevance, ambition and feasibility. Perhaps because it is not an explicit requirement of the buyer, bid strategy is often the most overlooked aspect of the Bid Management process. In this respect it is often the area where the greatest improvements can be found. In our long experience, no Invitation to Tender has ever asked bidders to describe their strategy for winning the contract. Perhaps our human nature directs us to those (many) specific tasks that the buyer has set us and since a strategy hasn’t been asked for, often none is developed. For those who do develop a strategy for each bid, it is often built on little more than a generic statement of assumed fact and a reaffirmation of the decision to bid in the first place. And yet, if we consider that a given procurement exercise is an attempt by the buyer to solve a problem, the least we can do is try to figure out why we are the best people to solve it. Better yet to define the good things that will happen as a consequence of your solution. Applying a strategic approach to solving their problem delivers significant competitive advantage – and in a competitive tender – advantage is critical. See more here.

Delivery

Thereafter, the work needs to be delivered. The bid needs to be written, the supporting documents collated and indexed, decisions taken on Pricing and Personnel, and myriad other tasks all of which completed within the schedule set. This leads to commonplace challenges discussed in further detail below.

What are the Challenges in Bid Management?

Because bidding is time-pressured and task-heavy, often too much attention is given to who will undertake which tasks and when, and too little is given to how each task will be accomplished. It is natural in many respects that, when a task requires to be completed by a given deadline, attention is focussed upon completing the task on time rather than on the desired outcome – in this case delivering the win.  As a result, technical methods are overlooked, corners are cut and often written content is recycled from previous bids. A renewed commitment to technical methods, a focus on the ‘how’ rather than just the what and when, and the introduction of peer review can deliver better bids and yield improved outcomes. See more here. Does your organisation apply a consistent approach to bid writing? Is there a well defined and widely used technical method? Your organisation doubtless has a formal, Quality-led approach to product or service delivery, but can you say the same about your approach to bid writing? To improve the bid management process and the outcomes from bidding in turn, become a Champion of technical method.

Why is the Bid Management Process Important?

Good bid management is a precursor to good business outcomes. We recommend a systems approach to bid management. Decisions taken during the bid process should be considered from the different perspectives within the organisation. For example, winning a new contract will likely require increased fulfilment capacity. That probably means recruiting more people to deliver the work.  In this light, consider that it is common for a contract to commence around 12 weeks following contract award. How long does it take to advertise, shortlist, interview and select new staff? Now add on a period of notice to their current employer and a period of induction and training in their new role. The likelihood is that any decision on the staffing model for a new bid contract will require input from the HR department as well as Operations, and a recruitment process may need to be started well before the outcome of the tender is notified. Good bid management means winning never comes as a surprise to the business. Good bid managers adopt a systems approach with an enterprise-wide outlook, ensuring that the business is ready to deliver on the wins their work achieves.

About Impact Bids

At Impact Bids we write to win. We are a single-minded team of expert Bid and Tender Writing Consultants with a purpose to help our clients thrive. If you’d like to know more about how our bid management services can help you, please contact us and let’s start the conversation.