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How SMEs Can Bid to Win in the post-Carillion World (part II)

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If you were with me last time, you’ll know that we’re looking at how SMEs and larger firms can capitalise on the Carillion crisis to develop new thinking and new approaches to their tenders for public and private work.

Having got all your paperwork, accounts, insurances, accreditations etc. in order, what’s next? Now, it’s time to work on your bid. Tendering for work in the public sector will require an investment of time and it may also be wise to get an external bid specialist to assist you … more on that later.

But now, here are steps you can take to creating a winning bid:

  • Read all the buyer-issued documents carefully
  • Attend any meet the buyer days or tenderers meetings
  • Arrange an organised bid kick off meeting bringing the key people together who will be working on the bid
  • Consider client ‘hot buttons’ as well as your USPs and differentiators
  • Give thought to managing risk, innovation and added value
  • Knit all this together into bid win themes and bid promises
  • Have a “good to go” solution
  • Use clarification questions to check understanding e.g. of specification, pricing and bid response requirements
  • Gather information from your subject matter experts
  • Build a “straw man” to stress test your solution
  • Have a disciplined bid management plan in place with clear responsibilities, deadlines and escalations … and stick to it!
  • Allow enough time for critical bid review
  • Involve a number of people in checking the draft submission and verifying the upload arrangements
  • Do not leave your submission to the last minute – uploading 24-48 hours before the deadline is recommended
  • Capture lessons learned even before you get the result
  • Win or lose, ensure you get detailed feedback

In addition, you need to make sure you avoid Bid Own Goals like these:

  • Refer to the wrong client name … oops, could be a show-stopper!
  • Don’t answer the question(s) or answer the question(s) you want to answer, not the one which is there
  • Produce a generic response – one that feels “cut and paste”
  • Produce a too short response – 200 words when a 1,000 word response is requested
  • Out of balance response – 1,000 word answers – 700 on the first topic, 200 on the second and 100 on the third
  • Response contradicts another answer in the bid
  • If you removed the client name, would you know who the bid is for?
  • Not submitting a compliant bid = game over!

I hope this has been of use to you.  Next time, I’ll look at the financial element of the bid, and then in my last blog we’ll consider how you can get an edge on your competition and optimise your chances of winning!

Andrew Morrison MSc FCIH, Managing Director, AM Bid Services Ltd


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