New Year’s resolutions for bidders
Yes, it’s a bit of a dry topic – January and tendering – however, the public sector spends £200bn via procurement every year (25% of this is awarded to SMEs) and billions are spent on private sector contracts through formal tender processes, so it’s a subject that’s well worth thinking about.
Here are some resolutions you can make that will help you secure more clients and contracts through tendering – and unlike the 80% of resolutions the nation gives up on by February, you’ll be able to maintain these all year!
Resolution 1: I will actively look for opportunities
There are 1000s of public sector tender opportunities published every week.
You can access all public sector opportunities for free via websites and portals such as Contracts Finder, ProContract, Delta, and In-Tend; once registered, you’ll be able to create ‘alerts’ which send sector-specific opportunities to your email.
If you don’t have time to look, paid services will save you time and effort in searching by ‘short-listing’ opportunities based on location, contract value, and sector.
Resolution 2: I will not bid for everything
If your approach is to bid for as much as possible hoping that you’ll win something, then it’s time to turn over a new leaf – not only is this a massive waste of time and resources (i.e. money!), it’s demoralising for your team.
Instead, before you bid, ask yourself: ‘Can I deliver what the buyer wants?’, ‘Can I deliver it profitability?’, and lastly (but crucially) ‘Do I have a winning proposal when compared to my competitors?’.
Only if you can answer a resounding ‘yes’ to all three should you go ahead. This strategy allows us to consistently achieve win rates of >80% for our clients, and is the tip that our workshop attendees rank as most useful.
Resolution 3: I will be organised
Though a tender can be completed in a couple of days, if you start working on it just before the deadline it’s unlikely you’ll have the time to write a winning tender. Your competition will have a massive head start, and you probably won’t have time to collect the case studies and evidence that would set your tender apart from other bidders.
And if you can’t submit a winning tender, what’s the point?
View each bid as a project; give it a leader and get them to own it. As soon as possible, start delegating sections to key contributors, and ask any clarifications. It’s common to underestimate the time and effort required to write a winning bid by 50% – so whatever you think it is going to take, double that figure!
The best method statements are based on a simple checklist that ensures you don’t miss anything vital. Plan out the structure of your statement, starting with a high level version, adding in the detail at the next stage. That way, it will be obvious to you what’s known and what’s unknown, as well as which parts of your content are strong and which are not.
1) What are you going to do? Give a summary only of your approach at this stage, showing that you understand the overall requirement and can meet it in full at this stage – the rest of your statement is about the detail. You should find yourself reflecting back the tendering organisation’s own vision in this section. You’re painting a picture of the future, in which you’re delivering a solution that meets or exceeds their needs.
2) Why and how are you going to do it? Start providing the real detail, showing the outcomes the client will enjoy as a result of your way of working. Always aim to represent the benefits first, as buyers are more interested in outcomes than processes. Instead of saying: We will use new software to speed up delivery. Say: You will enjoy faster delivery times (the ‘why’), through the use of our new software (the ‘how’). And if you can quantify that benefit (10% faster) – even better! Think about your processes end-to-end, and make sure you describe all key steps. If you have an innovative way of doing something, make sure you point this out!
3) Who’s responsible for making it happen? Don’t fall into the trap of saying ‘we’ when describing actions. (“We will produce weekly reports.”) Tell the evaluator the name of the person/ team responsible, and the role they carry out. If there’s space, include detail about their experience, to reassure of their capability. It might also help to show the reporting line for the person/team, to evidence an escalation route.
4) What happens if things don’t go as expected? Bids often end up describing the perfect process, but we all know the real world isn’t like that. Consider describing how you monitor your processes or performance – and what you do if things look like they might be going off-track. You can always include reassurance that you never have to use this process!
5) Have you done it before? This is crucial, and transforms your bid from an aspiration to a proven solution. Include a brief example from another client for whom you’ve successfully delivered a similar solution. And make sure it contains quantified benefits and outcomes.
Following this checklist will help you to structure a great method statement that will tell the buyer everything they need to know.