Category: Tendering Tips

Essential Bid Writing Skills

What makes an effective bid writer?


What makes an effective bid writer?

No matter what size of business you operate, Bid Writers play a vital role in determining whether or not you will win new work. They are responsible for understanding how the business works, and interpreting your value to best suit the needs buyers.  

Tender writing is challenging and requires more than just being able to write. Effective bid writers must have the following skills: 

Communication 
Effective communication is a must. You will be preparing pages of content to not only inform potential clients, but also compel them to do business with you. Bids need to really sell your business and express why doing business with you is the right choice.   
 
Attention to detail 
One of the main causes of negative feedback from buyers is not answering the questions correctly. Bid writers must be able to fully understand what is being asked of them, and then ensure that everything the buyer has asked for and needs, is covered clearly within their proposal.   
 
Time-Management 
Bids cannot be rushed. The above skill of paying attention to detail cannot be fully utilised if the time constraints are unrealistic. Bid writers have to be able to effectively plan their work, allowing themselves the time to produce the highest quality bids.  
 
Strategic Thinking 
Another common complaint from buyers is the significant number of poor-quality proposals they have to read. Diving into a bid and answering questions as they appear is not a great strategy. As well as paying attention to the details, effective bid writers have to plan how they prepare their response based on the agreed bid strategy created beforehand. Without this ability, you can find yourself half-way through an answer, and realise what you’ve written isn’t coherently capturing the value your solutions bring to the buyer 


Bid writing training 

Effective bid writing is a skill that you can develop over many years. Each success and failure will give you a deeper understanding of the types of tenders you can go for, as well as identifying what buyers are looking for. With public tenders, buyers will issue feedback and this is incredibly useful for identifying your strengths and weaknesses. 

The problem with this method is time and investment. With no guarantee of success, a lot of resources will be utilised to gain the experience needed to become a competent bid writer. You can however accelerate this by learning from experts, considering their advice and using their methods. 

We offer a wide range of bid writing courses to help you flourish, no matter what your level is. We have beginner courses designed to hone your skills and help you get started, and can then offer more advanced courses to refine your skills further. We also have a range of free on-demand webinars, which are incredible valuable resources to anyone wishing to develop their bid writing abilities. 

For everything else, we can offer bespoke training and development services. Our consultants can work with you manage bids from start to finish, review your proposals before submission, or even write the proposals for you – showing you exactly how we would bid for work.
  


Training Courses 
View our beginner, intermediate and advanced training courses here. 

Webinars 
View our range of free upcoming and
on-demand webinars.

Consultancy 
View our bespoke service to support you with any of your tendering requirements. 

Get in touch 
Tell us what you would like to achieve, and we would be happy to discuss options with you. 

How do I find government contracts?


The public sector is made up of numerous organisations run by the government – this includes local councils, emergency services, armed forces and the NHS. Each of these organisations relies on the private sector to supply them with a wide range of goods, works and services, and on average spends over £290 billion on procurement each year.

To ensure there is a competitive marketplace, contracts must be published publicly, and be accessible to any supplier. This means whenever a public body has a procurement need, they have to advertise the contract online using any of the numerous publishing platforms (also known as advertising portals) available to them – details of these can be found at the end of this post.


The Problem with Finding Tenders

You could try and search for notices yourself using the websites above, but due to the sheer number of sources, especially for low-value notices, it would take a significant amount of effort to find suitable notices.

Even if you did find notices this way, they might not actually be as relevant as you had hoped. This is because of CPV codes. There is a CPV (Common Procurement Vocabulary) code for every product or service, and while buyers should use them to let suppliers know what they are looking for, many notices are coded incorrectly. This means they won’t appear in searches and you could miss out on these opportunities.

However, Tenders Direct allows you to avoid these issues by sourcing and reviewing every UK and ROI notice, then making them available to you in one accurate and easy to search database.


Tenders Direct – How does it work? 

We are able to provide full coverage of every tender published in the UK and ROI thanks to our team of Sourcing Specialists, who scour every source to find every tender published. Our Classification Specialists then review each of these notices for accuracy, and re-classify them according to product, service and industry. This Peer Review Process not only ensures you have access to every tender published; it also eliminates irrelevance so you only ever see notices that match your search criteria.

To help you stay ahead of the competition and have more time to prepare your bids, our tender alert service eliminates the need for manual searches by notifying you as soon as relevant opportunities are published. Our Client Experience Managers work with you to learn about your business, identify your needs, and develop your unique alert profile – ensuring you receive notifications tailored specifically to your requirements.

With a Tenders Direct subscription, we guarantee you will never miss a tender. Visit our website for more information about our services, or call our New Business Executives on 0800 222 9009 to discuss your needs.

How Tenders Direct works
Discover how Tenders Direct can help you find and win public contracts.

See for yourself
Request a free sample tender alert direct to your inbox.


Tender Publishing Platforms UK 

Contracts Finder - for English contracts worth over £10,000 with the government and its agencies. 

Public Contracts Scotland – for all Scottish public procurement. 

Sell2Wales – for all Welsh public procurement.

eSourcing NI – for all public procurement in Northern Ireland.

Tenders Electronic Daily (TED) – for high-value tenders published in European Union countries.

Find a Tender – for all high-value notices published across the UK.

Public Buyer Specific – low-value tenders, which make up the majority of all public contracts, can be published on the buyer’s own website or through a third party service such as myTenders – meaning there are hundreds of sites used to publish notices. 


These posts may also be of interest

Why work with
the public sector? 

Our article looks at 6 reasons why you should do business with the Public Sector.

Differences between
the private and public sector 

This infographic looks at the different procurement processes.

What is
a public sector tender? 
An explanation of how tenders work and the different procedures they can use.  

Request a tailored
Market Overview

Discover what types of opportunities are available for your industry with a free Market Overview report.


Tenders Direct is the UK’s most accurate tender alert service. We are the only service to guarantee that with us – you’ll never miss a tender.

For more information about we can help you find and win more work in the public sector, please visit tendersdirect.co.uk or call us on 0800 222 9009.

The Tender Writing Process

Across the UK and ROI, the public sector publishes 1,229 contract opportunities each week – that’s 63,909 a year!
With so much work available, bidding for these contracts should be an action in every business development plan. 
 
The public sector needs suppliers from a wide range of industries, and once you have found an opportunity that is relevant to your business – you’ll want to do everything you can to win the work. 
 
To help you get started, we have created this 9 step tender writing process for you to follow. It details the most efficient way of planning your proposals, helping you to focus on what is needed and avoid dreaded rewrites.


1. Evaluate the Tender – Go/No Go 

The evaluation stage is the first and most important stage of the tender writing process, as it highlights vital information and creates the foundation of your bid strategy.  
 
Before starting any proposals, you will need to consider the criteria which you will use to confidently determine if tenders are worthwhile or not. Without some form of initial evaluation you are likely to encounter problems later on. 
 
Some examples of questions to ask yourself are: 
 
◆ How closely is the tender aligned to our business strategy? 
◆ How well do we match the needs listed? 
◆ Can we meet the requirement? 
◆ What is our win probability? 
◆ Can we complete the proposal on time? 
◆ How familiar are we with the buyer? 
◆ Do we have the experience needed? 
◆ Are there any requirements which we can’t meet? 


2. Review and Deconstruct Available Information 

Ensure you have, and understand, all of the information available to you. Make this easy to access, and refer back to this information when writing your Bid Plan (see step 3) to ensure nothing is missed.  
 
◆ Review the tender, and identify exactly what each question is looking for.  
◆ Can the questions be broken down into individual requirements or themes?  
◆ Do you require any clarifications from the buyer? 
◆ What do you know about the buyer? 
◆ Can any research on previous or similar awards be conducted? 
◆ Are there any formatting requirements you need to consider – layout, document attachments, word count?  
◆ Is there anything missing from the specifications or additional recommendations you would include? 


3. Create your Bid Plan  

With your requirements clearly outlined, and all of the necessary information covered, you will be to plan for how and when you will prepare your responses.  
 
Your plan will consist of dates, names and actions against everything you need up to the submission deadline.  
 
◆ What resources will you need? 
◆ Who will be needed to support you? 
◆ What actions need to be completed? 
◆ What work will be delegated? 
◆ What is the timeline of activity? 
◆ What are your key milestones? 
◆ When will you engage with your team?   


4. Strategy Development    

By going through the initial evaluation, you have already formed the basis of your strategy – the reasons that you would be able to successfully secure this work.

With this information, you should be able to identify overarching themes that you will consistently reference throughout your response. Think here about your positioning, what you know about the competitors, and what is important to the buyer. Identifying these win themes early will ensure your they a factored into your answers.     


5. Answer Planning   

In this stage we combine the work conducted in stages 1 and 2 to prepare a plan for how each question will be answered. 

Your initial evaluation will have highlighted key win themes, and your review will have provided clarification on what the buyer is asking for. Use this information to prepare high level response themes for each question – at this stage you’re only looking to capture key points. 

Look to create a range of headings or bullet points for each question, do not start producing a detailed narrative.   

Is there a word count? This would be the point to start thinking about the answer structure, and how you are you going to divide that word count up among the different topics you want to cover. 


6. Answer Development   

Allow a lot of time for this activity. 

This is where you add more information to your themes, by focusing on what topics will be covered and creating lists of all the information you’ll be required to include – you are building on the bullet points captured in the previous section.  
 
Dedicating time for both Answer Planning and Development will save you significant effort in the long run, by helping you to avoid missing key information and having to conduct rewrites.  


7. Answering    

Do not start this without first planning all of the actions needed to complete your proposal on time, or having first created a plan for your responses. Answering questions and developing a plan as you go will only make the entire process more complicated and will not help you turn it around any quicker. 

Follow the plans you have created in earlier stages, refer back to them, and ensure nothing is overlooked. While you are following a plan to ensure key topics are covered, do not make the mistake of just listing responses. Your proposal needs to be compelling rather than just descriptive. 

Your responses should tell the buyer about the benefits they will receive, rather than just describing what you offer. You need help them understand why choosing you, over the competition, is the best option.  

Also do not feel that you should be limited by the specifications provided. If you feel that they have not fully captured the requirement or their project could benefit from new considerations – include them. Who would you award work to – the company who overlooks issues, or the one who proposes solutions to problems you hadn’t even realised were there?  


8. Proofing and Review     

Involve others who have not been directly involved with the proposal to proof read. They can ensure that your proposal both reads well and makes sense.  

We also tend to miss our own typographical errors, most commonly duplicated or omitted words, so a fresh pair of eyes can ensure your response reads as intended.  


9. Tender Submission     

Always leave time to get your proposal submitted, do not leave until the last minute. Systems can go down, connections can fail, and other unexpected issues can all delay on time submission. 

Try and leave a day to get your document submitted. 

As systems vary significantly, there is no standard submission process. You could find yourself having to get familiar with a new system each time you submit a proposal. Scope out the end-to-end navigation of the portal at the beginning of the project, not the end. 


Tender Writing Support    

We have a range of other articles which may be useful for helping you with your tender writing needs. You can find details of these below.
 
If you require more hands-on support with a specific tender or tenders in general, we offer a wide range of consultancy services and can support you with anything from reviewing proposals to overall bid management. If you would like more information, please feel free to contact me directly or visit our Consultancy Services page. 
 
Andrew Watson 
Bid Consultancy and Training Manager 
Tel: 07384 818 704  
E-mail: andrew.watson@proactis.com  


Should you offer  
more than the specification? 
An article looking at what to do if you realise the buyer needs something else… 

Top 5 
Bid Writing Mistakes 
In this series, we look at the most common mistakes made.  

View our full range of  
Consultancy Services 
Bid writing | Bid review and editing | Bid management | Bid strategy | Bespoke support 

Access our free 
On-demand webinars 
Covering a wide range of topics for bid writers of all levels. 

Low value tenders post Brexit – improved opportunities for SMEs

With no requirements to comply with EU directives for public procurement, the UK Government is able introduce changes to how they procure below threshold goods, works and services.  
 
On 10 December 2020, the Cabinet Office published the Procurement Policy Note (PPN): Reserving Below Threshold Procurements – which outlines how central government buyers are encouraged to reserve low value tenders for Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs), and suppliers in specific geographical regions from 1 January 2021. 


What does this mean for SMEs?

The introduction of this PPN is aimed at supporting SMEs by making more opportunities available to them, and increasing their chances of securing work with the public sector.

As part of its drive to level up the UK economy, the government is committed to tackling inequality and giving everyone across the country the opportunity to fulfil their potential. An economy with diverse, resilient and innovative supply markets provides the best environment to start and grow a business.

Point 16. Procurement Policy Note – Reserving Below Threshold Procurements

There are two ways that buyers are advised to create tenders which favour SMEs:

Reserving them by supplier location – buyers are able to open tenders which can only be bid on by suppliers located in a specified geographical area. The scope of these tenders can be UK wide or narrowed down by county. Buyers will not be able specify individual nations of the UK.  

Restricting the types of organisations that can bid for the work – buyers are able to specify that only SMEs and Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprises (VCSEs) are eligible to bid for the work. 

While the PPN applies to central government buyers, the wider public sector is “encouraged to apply the principles” outlined within – meaning as familiarity with these practices grows, so too will UK-led and SME specific opportunities. 

The PPN does not apply to low value tenders involving any provision of goods into Northern Ireland – which remains subject to EU regulations under Northern Ireland Protocol, avoiding a hard border with the Republic of Ireland. 


What are low value tenders?

Low value tenders are those which fall below specific thresholds, which have been identified to prevent discriminatory procurement practices. If buyers wish to reserve low value tenders, the current thresholds which tender values must fall below are:

Supplies & Services
< £122,976
ex VAT

Works
< £4,733,252
ex VAT

The EU thresholds introduced on 1 January 2020 will remain in place until 1 January 2022. Future thresholds will be determined by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) – which the UK has been a member of since 1 January 2021. 


How do I find low value tenders?

There are thousands of portals through which public bodies can publish their notices, and it would take a lot of time and effort to try and locate every opportunity relevant to your business.   
 
Thankfully, Tenders Direct eliminates your need to search for tenders by collating every UK and ROI notice in one place, and alerts you to the tenders relevant to you. Our unique service ensures we are aware of every tender published, and allows us to guarantee that with Tenders Direct – you will never miss a tender again.  


Top 5 bid writing mistakes  
You’ll want to avoid these mistakes to take full advantage of these SME specific opportunities. 

Request a free demo 
See how our system works, and discover the opportunities available for business like yours.

Brexit and Public Procurement 
Read about the other changes introduced with Brexit’s conclusion on 1 January 2021.

Reserving Below Threshold Procurements 
View the full policy procurement note on GOV.UK 

What is a public tender?

Whenever the public sector has a need for goods, works, or services (which are over a certain contract value), they are required to publicly advertise this need, and encourage businesses to compete for the work.

This process is referred to as publishing an ‘Invitation to Tender’ or ‘ITT’, and the associated documents have become more commonly known as tenders.


Why are public tenders needed? 

As the public sector relies on public funding to make decisions, all procurement must be made respectfully, encourage free and open competition, achieve best value for money and ultimately benefit the public.   

These requirements prevent unethical procurement practices, while also allowing businesses, regardless of size, to enter the market. For more information about this, please read our article ‘6 reasons to do business with the Public Sector?’


What types of tender are there? 

 
Low and High Value Tenders

The value of a tender determines the rules in place for how the notice must be advertised.

High-Value Tenders, also known as Above Threshold Tenders, are those which have a value above the EU public procurement threshold, and must be advertised in the OJEU to encourage competition from other EU countries. From 1 January 2021, the rule will be changing and these notices will instead be posted to the new government portal ‘Find a Tender’. More information is still to be announced, but you can find out more in our article Brexit and Public Procurement. 

Low-Value Tenders, also known as Below Threshold Tenders, have a value which is below the EU threshold and are advertised within the UK. These contracts are much smaller than High-value tenders, making them a great starting point for businesses entering the market for the first time. The procedures for low-value notices are simpler, and bidding for these provides suppliers with valuable experience to help them go after high-value tenders in the future. For more information, read our article ‘Why we love low-value tenders’.  

For details on the current public procurement thresholds, please see ‘New Public Procurement thresholds 2020/2021’. 

Public Procurement Procedures

Open procedure 
Is the standard procedure and for public procurement within the UK. This type of procedure allows any business to respond to a tender, access associated documents and bid for the tender.  

Restricted Procedure 
Is a two-stage procedure which involves creating a shortlist of the most suitable suppliers, by having them first complete a selection questionnaire. Those shortlisted will receive an invitation to tender, and are allowed to bid for the contract. This type of procedure is generally used if a high volume of bidders is expected. 

Competitive Dialogue Procedure 
Is a multi-stage procedure which allows discussion with suppliers before issuing an invitation to tender. It is used where procurement needs are complex, and as with Restricted Procedures, bidders will first be shortlisted. After the selection stage, the requirements and solutions will be discussed with shortlisted suppliers. From these discussions, the requirements will be finalised and an invitation to tender will be issued. 
 
Competitive procedure with negotiation   
Is a multi-stage procedure which allows negotiation with suppliers after they have submitted their bids. This procedure includes a selection stage questionnaire, and the final negotiation stage is optional – as along as this has been stated within the tender. Much like the Competitive Dialogue Procedure, it is used where procurement needs are complex. 

Innovation partnership 
Is a unique procedure which is used when no goods, services or works exist to meet the procurement need. Selection stage questionnaires are used to identify the most suitable suppliers before invitations to tender are issued. The products produced as a result of this partnership may be purchased by the public body, but only if they meet the minimum requirements identified within the tender. 

Framework Agreement
Is an umbrella agreement that sets out the terms – particularly relating to price, quality and quantity – under which individual contracts (call-offs) can be awarded at any point during the lifespan of the framework. Frameworks are typically used when the buyer has identified a need for specific products or services but is unsure of the scope or time-frame. The agreements created give buyers access to a range of qualified suppliers, allowing them to avoid the need to continuously re-tender. Being an a framework does not guarantee work, as there may be multiple suppliers offering the same goods, works or services – in such instances, mini competitions or best value will determine who wins the work. Full details of these agreements can be found in ‘Framework Agreements: What you need to know’.

Dynamic Purchasing Systems (DPS)

Is similar to a framework, however new suppliers can join at any time, and is used for goods, works and services commonly available on the market. A DPS must be set-up using the restricted procedure, and the process is required to be entirely electronic. Unlike a framework, there is no limit on the number of suppliers that may join a DPS, and any supplier may join during the tender’s lifespan. DPS are used to streamline procurement for both buyers and suppliers, as suppliers only need to demonstrate suitability once, and buyers can award contracts quicker than other methods allow.


How do I find public tenders?

There are thousands of portals through which public bodies can publish their notices, and it would take a significant amount of time and effort to try and locate every opportunity relevant to your business.  

Thankfully, Tenders Direct eliminates your need to search for tenders by collating every UK and ROI notice in one place, and alerting you to the tenders you want to bid for. Our unique service ensures we are aware of every tender published, and allows us to guarantee that with Tenders Direct – you will never miss a public sector notice.   
   
Request a demo today and discover all the opportunities you could be bidding for.  

6 reasons why you should do business with the Public Sector

On average the UK Government spends £292 billion a year, more than a third of all public spending, on procuring goods, works and services from external suppliers. This money generates over 50,000 new business opportunities a year for many different industries.  


What is the Public Sector? 


The Public Sector is typically made up of not-for-profit organisations owned by central, national and local governments, for the benefit of their citizens. They cover areas such as defence, education, fire services, healthcare, police and refuse collection. 
 
As the public sector relies on public funding to make decisions, they are required to ensure their financial decisions are made respectfully, encourage free and open competition, achieve best value for money, and ultimately benefit the public. 


Reasons to tender for public sector work

  1. All contracts must be open and accessible – meaning no matter what size your business is, if you meet the criteria and can deliver the tender requirements, you have a fair chance of winning the work. This is different to private procurement where the buyer can choose who to inform of their procurement needs, and who to do business with.    
  1. The public sector wants to award work to SMEs – by 2022 the UK Government wants 33% of all public contracts to awarded to SMEs. SMEs make up 99% of all UK businesses and are vital for the economy.  
  1. 30 day payment period – all invoices for contracted work must be processed by public bodies within 30 days of receiving them, ensuring businesses get paid promptly. Lengthy payment periods can be an issue within the private sector, where larger businesses can dictate when they issue payment. 
  1. Transparent Tendering process – nothing is hidden in public procurement, decisions made are transparent, and suppliers will receive feedback if they did not win a contract. Private buyers do not have to make their processes public, and have no obligations to provide feedback to suppliers.  
  1. Most Economically Advantageous Tenders (MEAT) – is the chosen method of proposal assessment, meaning contract awards are not just based on price, and consider the wider aspects of tender submissions. Social Value is a major consideration in contract awards, and with the Procurement Policy Note – Taking Account of Social Value in the Award of Central Government Contracts, five key themes have been highlighted for central government contracts: COVID-19 recovery, tackling economic inequality, fighting climate change, equal opportunity, and wellbeing. 
  1. Continuously improving processes – to make bidding for work easier and less time consuming, the public sector continually work to improve their processes. Single Procurement Documents are a great example – where these are used, only the winning bidder needs to provide the required documents, saving you significant time and effort. 

Finding public Sector Work 

The public sector offers a reliable source of new business.   
 
From stationary to infrastructure and everything in between, the public sector needs suppliers like you. All notices must be publicly accessible online no matter the size, for any supplier to view and bid for.   
  
There are thousands of portals through which public bodies can publish their notices and you can spend a significant amount of time and effort trying to locate opportunities relevant to your business. Thankfully, Tenders Direct eliminates your need to search for tenders by collating every UK and ROI notice in one place, and alerting you to those relevant to your business.   
  
Tender Direct guarantees you will never miss a public sector notice.  
  
Request a demo today and discover all the opportunities you could be bidding for.  

Q: Should you offer more than the specification stated in the tender if you know that’s what the buyer needs?

 

The short answer is yes, almost certainly!

This knowledge is gold.  Why do you spend time and effort cultivating relationships with potential buyers? So you can more deeply understand their needs so you can then propose solutions that meet and exceed them. 

I’m often faced with the complaint from unsuccessful bidders that the buyer was always going to award the contract to the current supplier. More often than not there is no conspiracy. The reality is just that the incumbent knows more about the buyer than the other bidders and the quality of their submission reflects this. 

The other thing to bear in mind here is how the questions are being scored. For top marks some scoring criteria ask for something like: “fully meets requirement” others might say something like “meets and exceeds requirement”. In this second example to score top marks you are explicitly being asked to go above and beyond the given specification!  Even if it isn’t explicit like this you should always find a way to show how you will deliver value above and beyond what they are expecting. 

Think about your overall proposal plan and work out the most appropriate places to include it. The winning bid is more often than not the one that demonstrates the biggest difference between value and price.  


During my monthly webinars I get asked great questions like the one covered above. By sharing the most common questions on this blog, my hope is that I can help more people find the answers they are looking for. 
 
If you have your own questions or are looking for specific help with your bid, please get in touch. Every week I help clients with their tendering, from bid writing to leading on bid responses. Use the details below to view the range of services we offer or to contact me directly.   

Tel: 07384 818 704 
E-mail: andrew.watson@proactis.com   
Web: View our training and consultancy services  
Web: View our upcoming and on demand webinars 

Top 5 bid writing mistakes: Overlooking key details

In this series of posts, I am addressing the common errors that occur time and time again when writing bids. Below is our 5th and final post which will address the following mistake: 

Overlooking key details 

It sounds obvious, but not answering questions properly is one of the main causes of harsh feedback from buyers. The reason this happens can be attributed to many of the points mentioned earlier in this series (links provided at the bottom of the page). Attention to detail is important to fully comprehend what is required, and to make sure it has been exhaustively covered in your response. 

It is important that you ask for clarifications if you think there is any ambiguity in the questions. There is normally a window of time where this is allowed, so make sure you’ve fully reviewed all the documents and submitted all queries before the window closes. 

I’d strongly recommend establishing a checklist to answer off points one at a time, paying close attention to detail. There is a formal way to do this called a compliance matrix.  Their format can vary but basically you pull apart all the documentation in the tender and write down every single requirement.  You can then reference in the matrix where you have addressed the requirement in your response. This will ensure you are covering off absolutely everything that is being requested.   

You can even (where format and word count allow) include a simplified version of the matrix (known as a response matrix) in your submission to make it easier for the assessors to reference your answers and demonstrate your full compliance.     

I created a simple template that I use to help people get you started; I would be happy to send you a copy, just drop me an email at andrew.watson@proactis.com.


This post concludes my series of the top 5 common mistakes made when writing bids. I really hope you have found these posts helpful. If you would like to learn more about the tendering process and develop your skills, I currently run monthly webinars you might find useful. 
 
In the meantime, if you’re looking for specific help with your bid, please get in touch. Every week I help clients with their tendering, from bid writing to leading on bid responses. Use the details below to view the range of services we offer or to contact me directly.  

Tel: 07384 818 704 
E-mail: andrew.watson@proactis.com   
View our upcoming and on-demand webinars  
View my range of consultancy services  


Other posts in the Top 5 Bid Writing mistakes series:
1 – Failing to prepare and preparing to fail
2 – Biting off more than you can chew
3 – Not knowing how your pricing fits into your strategy
4 – Too little, too late

Top 5 bid writing mistakes: Too little, too late

In this series of posts, I am addressing the common errors that occur time and time again when writing bids. Below is our 4th post and will address the following mistake:

Too little, too late

Leaving work to the last minute. We’ve all done it. It is something that both large and small businesses alike struggle with and with bids it can be critical to your chances of success.

With no guarantee of winning, it is more challenging for businesses to assign the necessary resources needed to give it a strong chance of success. The difficulties in writing a submission, and the time it takes to do so, are often underestimated. These factors often combine which results in an 11th hour panic and sub-par outcomes.

You’ll need a sound project management approach in order to tackle the resourcing requirements of submitting a bid, which could mean temporarily pulling resource from other projects, something that senior management is often reticent in doing.

This is an area we see companies consistently struggle with. It might not always be apparent that there is an issue and its only if and when an unsuccessful tender is picked through that is becomes apparent there was an issue.

Some tips to avoid this:

Plan it out – by addressing our first mistake of the series, failing to prepare, you will have already identified your order of work and the dates these need to be completed  Think about how best to sequence your tasks and which ones can be done in parallel.

Learn from your mistakes – from previous submissions can you identify problem areas that required more time than expected? Can you put in safeguards to prevent this from happening again?

Set your own cut-off date – setting a date that falls before submission deadline will encourage you and your team to complete tasks sooner than needed. Slippage is common and by creating a buffer, you can give yourself time to recover should things not go as planned. If you are still writing first draft answers up to the day of submission (rather than doing final checks on revised versions) something has gone very wrong.

Ask yourself, is it worth it – if the deadline is fast approaching, is it worth putting in so much effort into a short period or would it be best to dedicate time to other tenders and creating more compelling bids. If you are finding that too little too late is a common mistake, try breaking the cycle and developing a more sustainable workflow. In a competitive sector it could be better to submit two high quality bids rather than three mediocre ones.

Ask for help – is there someone within your organisation who could help you with planning and managing your bids? If not, as the Bid Consultancy Manager at Tenders Direct, I have plenty of experience in identifying mistakes and helping bid managers achieve greater levels of efficiency. I’m always happy to discuss what actions you could take to quickly make improvements to your bid process, and help you get back on track.


For my final post, we’ll look at the the mistake of overlooking key details.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for specific help with your bid, please get in touch. Every week I help clients with their tendering, from bid writing to leading on bid responses. Use the details below to view the range of services we offer or to contact me directly. 

Tel: 07384 818 704
E-mail: andrew.watson@proactis.com  
Web: View our training and consultancy services 


Other posts in the Top 5 Bid Writing mistakes series:
1 – Failing to prepare and preparing to fail
2 – Biting off more than you can chew
3 – Not knowing how your pricing fits into your strategy
5 – Overlooking key details

Top 5 bid writing mistakes: Not knowing how your pricing fits into your strategy

In this series of posts, I am addressing the common errors that occur time and time again when writing bids. Below is our 3rd post and will address the following mistake: 

Not knowing how your pricing fits into your strategy 

Often businesses, or the individual in charge of tenders, will focus on pricing for a tender, but there is a need for a more comprehensive decision-making process of which price is only a part, albeit an important one. In other words, agreeing one number is not a strategy. A price should be agreed upon following the implementation of an overall bid strategy and not the other way around, or in isolation from the bid strategy.  These are the main issues we see, where pricing is either decided on its own, or looked at too late and not aligned to the offer as a whole. Either approach isn’t fit for purpose as there is always a need to understand the drivers behind your prices.  
 
For example, you should ask yourself: 

  • What is the context of your chosen prices in regard to your entire offer? 
  • Are you able to offer unique value adding services or are your competitors able to offer exactly the same? 

Knowing the competitive environment and the key drivers for the customer are paramount to making good decisions.  The prices need to balance your chances of success with the value derived for the contract, which won’t be possible if you don’t give your pricing the time and contemplation it deserves. 

There are ways to look at this in more detail. For example, from our contract award database we could provide you with information about who specific contracts were awarded to and their values going back five years. From here it would be possible, by looking at the spend reports from individual public sector authorities, to start estimating how much incumbent suppliers are charging for their services. This type of analysis can help prevent your pricing strategy from being a shot in the dark.  
 
If you are interested in using contract award data to inform your pricing strategies, you might be interested in our Competitor Tracking Alerts. Not only do we offer a five year archive of contract awards, you can also track an unlimited number of competitors and receive alerts whenever they win high value public contracts.


For my next post, we’ll look at the the issues associated with leaving things to the last moment.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for specific help with your bid, please get in touch. Every week I help clients with their tendering, from bid writing to leading on bid responses. Use the details below to view the range of services we offer or to contact me directly. 

Tel: 07384818704
E-mail: andrew.watson@proactis.com  
Web: View our training and consultancy services 


Other posts in the Top 5 Bid Writing mistakes series:
1 – Failing to prepare and preparing to fail
2 – Biting off more than you can chew
4 – Too little, too late
5 – Overlooking key details

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