Deciding what to bid for – less effort, more success!
Posted by Gemma Waring on July 29, 2015
Here at Millstream we speak to public sector suppliers every day both new and old and it is staggering just how many do not have a documented strategy that outlines how they should decide which tenders to bid on. Often is it left to the Bid Manager or another individual to sift through the notices and decide what to bid on. These are the same organisations that devote time and money every year to developing detailed sales and marketing plans but fail to put the same spotlight on tendering. So, why not have a documented approach to tendering to help guide your organisation to success?
With the changes to the new regulations making lower value procurements exempt from a PQQ stage and the contract documents being available from the point of the contract notice for above threshold contracts, there is no longer a need for suppliers to ‘apply for the PQQ and see what the ITT looks like if we get through’. You can make informed decisions about what to bid for and focus your energy on applying for fewer opportunities that you stand a greater chance of winning.
So at Millstream we suggest you need to have a documented system for your organisation that clearly outlines what you want to bid on and why. This helps both your bid team and the organisation as a whole. The bid team will be able to make decisions confidently knowing they are following the guidance they have been given and your organisation will reap many benefits including business continuity when you lose or replace members of your team, more efficient use of resources and a clear tie in between your wider strategy and your bidding activity.
A simple two step process can be all you need so it doesn’t become an over onerous process…….
Step one – Can we bid for it?
This is a basic but often hurried step in the process. Using the information you have, before you begin filling out your tender, you need to take a detailed look at the specification and any information given in the contract notice and take an honest view on whether or not you meet all the requirements.
There is a big difference between essential criteria and where you have more freedom to interpret the requirements. For example, ‘Staff must be qualified to NVQ Level 5’ is defined and essential criteria. ‘Staff must be suitably qualified to a high standard in their roles’ leaves room for interpretation and would not necessarily make you in-eligible to win.
A lot of organisations will decide to tender if they meet ‘most’ of the requirements and have a belief that they will somehow be able to word their responses to explain away any non-conformity with the specification.
The simple fact is that you can’t win bids like this. Not only are the buyers not allowed to score you if you don’t meet the specification, you will also be wasting time and energy on a bid you have no chance of winning.
It’s like receiving CV’s for a job – if the candidate doesn’t meet the essential criteria for the role would you waste time inviting them to interview when you had 10 other compliant CVs sat on your desk?
Step two – Do we want to bid for it?
This is the next stage you need to consider carefully and this is where you can provide the most support and guidance for your bid team.
As you would with a sales and marketing plan, you need to have a defined target audience and set measurable objectives in place.
You need to know – what you want to sell, to whom, in which geographical areas, what value of contract you want to bid for, who your competitors are likely to be and you also need to take into account your current level of experience either with this contracting authority or with others. You would also want to consider the impact winning this contract will have on your current business activities and also any potential risks that would need to be mitigated
What we would recommend is having a set form for decision makers to use to make their bid/no bid decisions. The form should ask questions which outline all the key information which should then result in a bid/no bid decision. This would contain questions such as:
- Name of the contracting authority
- Dates of contract
- Value of contract
- Does this value meet out minimum threshold?
- Is this in our target geographical area?
- Does the contract require core products/services or will we need to adapt business as usual?
- Do we meet all specification requirements? If not, are we able to adapt to meet the requirements for contract delivery?
- What delivery team is required for this contract? Do we already have them in place?
- Who else is likely to be bidding and what are their relative strengths and weaknesses (if known)?
- What are the potential risks of us winning this contract? (i.e. needing to recruit more staff in time for contract start or fluctuating volume orders)
You could have a simple rule structure in place such as ‘If the response is no to questions 4, 5 or 6 then a no bid decision is to be made’ to guide the bid team further.
These forms can be kept as a record for you to go back and review your bid/no bid decisions and having a documented process will also mean that other people in the organisation are able to pick up the process when required. You will see it will also very quickly highlights any potential issues and allows you to make quick, informed decisions about whether or not to bid rather than relying on the discretion of one or two individuals.
If you need help developing a bid decision form or with setting your wider bidding strategy why not call us on 0844 651 0675 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and see how we can help you today.