Throughout this blog, you will find numerous posts from my colleagues and I offering tips and advice to improve your bid writing for public sector contracts. Our readers who are familiar with bid management will be able to take this guidance and build it into what they already know. However, if you are less experienced, it can be difficult to visualise how it all fits together – and that is why I have written this post.  
 
This post should provide you with the foundations to build you own bid plans and start incorporating the rest of the guidance found on our blog.   


Example of a Tender Submission Plan

Below you will find an example of a bid plan broken down into 5 stages, illustrating many of the activities you will have to consider when reviewing the resources available to you. As an organisation you will develop and adapt your own bid plan over time, the level of detail you use will vary from bid to bid, and you may build in the resourcing requirements with the plan.

29 Day bid management Gantt Chart
29 Day bid management Gantt Chart – you can request a copy of this spreadsheet here

The above plan covers a 29 day period, and you will see that the content stage takes up most of the time. While other activities may not take as much time, it is important to track all of them so nothing is missed. From the sample you can see periods of high activity with a lot to manage at once, and it could be easy to lose track of smaller activities if you do not have an effective plan in place.  
 
This is a plan for a simple tender and serves only to help you think of what will need to be included within your own plans – more complex tenders will have many more actions and will require a higher level of precision for on time delivery.


5 Stages to include within your bid plan

Overall Bid Offer  
This stage captures all the critical work before you start thinking about writing the answers, and most organisations either rush this stage or bypass it entirely. Here you are researching and establishing what you really know about the buyer, your competitors, what’s really required and what your bid needs to include to be successful. 
 
Bid Plan 
You need to get a plan for your bid in place, approved and communicated to the team as quickly as possible. A bid is like any other project and needs to be managed properly.  The plan will ensure that the required tasks are completed in the correct sequence and will help keep your timings on track. After your initial plan has been reviewed, you will then use your findings and advice from colleagues to shape and finalise the plan you will use for your bid. 
 
Bid Content 
The majority of your time will be spent on developing the content of your bid. This section will tie-in with many other stages depending on the complexity of the tender. You will likely have many crossovers where other teams will need to contribute, or responses are reliant on other work being completed first. Again, it’s important to plan out the response as a whole and at an individual answer level before starting to write the full text. 
 
Key Meetings 
It is vital you plan when important meetings and catch-ups with specific teams or individuals will be needed. Meetings can help you set expectations, ensure nothing is missed or behind schedule, as well as being a tool to boost morale and working relationships. 
Some meetings you could arrange are:

◆ initial planning meeting 
◆ kick off meeting 

◆ mid project meeting 
◆ regular check-in meetings 

◆ sign off meeting  
◆ lessons learned session

Final Stages 
Always set time aside before the submission deadline. This time gives you breathing space should  there have been delays, time to effectively proof your proposals, and even allow you to familiarise yourself with the submission portal – each portal can vary significantly in their level of complexity.


Planning your first bid 

Planning your first bid can be daunting, so our top tip for making it less intimidating would be to do a couple of practice plans first. 
Look at historical or current tenders, get familiar with everything you would need to include, plan how you would respond, and develop some stock responses or information for future reference. If you have colleagues you can talk to, it might be worth working with them to capture their thoughts and get an idea of how other teams can contribute. If you do not have this kind of support available, we would be happy to help and can offer you a range of Training and Consultancy services
 
In the meantime, I would recommend reading our ‘Top 5 mistakes’ series and our ‘Essential bid writing skills’ post help identify where you can strengthen your skills and improve the quality of your bids.  


Managing your bids and your opportunity pipeline 

There is so much to manage when preparing a tender submission – how do you keep track of team members, resources, progress and deadlines?  
If you are in need of a bid management tool, Opportunity Manager simplifies your day-to-day bid administration by allowing to track, manage and access everything from one location.  
With a single overview of all your bids, you can check their status at a glance and ensure full situational awareness of your current activities and long-term outlook. 
Opportunity Manager is included as standard with all Tenders Direct subscriptions, and you can try if your yourself by requesting a Free Demo. 

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