Throughout this blog, you will find numerous posts offering tips and advice to improve your public sector bid writing skills. However, if you are not familiar with the tender planning process, it can be difficult to visualise how it all fits together. That is why we have written this post – to provide you with the foundations to build your own bid plans and start incorporating the rest of the guidance found on our blog.
Below you will find a bid plan example, broken down into 5 stages, illustrating many of the activities you will need to allocate time to. As an organisation, you will develop and adapt your own bid plans, and the level of detail you use will vary from bid to bid.
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 can see the content stage requires the most time. While less time may be required for other activities, it is important to track all of them so nothing is missed. In this example, we can see periods of high activity with overlapping actions, and it can be easy to lose track of smaller activities without an effective plan in place.
This is a plan for a simple tender and serves only to help you think of what should be included within your own plans. More complex tenders will have many more actions and require a higher level of precision for on-time delivery.
Use the following five stages as a guide for creating your own bid plans.
This stage captures all the critical work before you start thinking about the answers – 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, the requirements, and what needs to be included for success.
You need to have a plan for your bid developed, approved, and communicated to your bid team as quickly as possible. A bid is like any other project and needs to be managed properly. The plan will ensure the required tasks are completed on time and in the correct sequence. After your initial plan has been reviewed, you will then use your findings and advice from colleagues to shape and finalise all of your other activities.
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 need to contribute, or responses are reliant on other work being completed first. This is why it is important to plan out the bid as a whole, identifying what is needed for each answer, before starting to write the full text.
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
◆ Sign-off meeting
◆ Lessons learned session
Always set time aside before the submission deadline. This time allows you to reprioritise should there be delays, properly proof your work without unnecessary stress, and familiarise yourself with the submission portal – please be aware each portal can vary significantly in its level of complexity!
Planning your first bid can be daunting, and our top tip for making it less intimidating – 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 or Consultancy services.