I can’t bid-lieve it’s been six months since I joined Onto the Page… From understanding strict procurement regulations to working remotely with a new team, it’s certainly been a learning curve.
Writing a winning bid is about telling a story – and telling it well. But, in the highly regulated public sector, you need to be much more than a human dictionary. So, since becoming OTP’s newest recruit, what are the most important things I’ve learnt?
1. The devil’s in the detail
The biggest challenge of any bid writing exercise can be summed up in one word: evidence. The buyer needs to know that the bidder can deliver products and services to a high standard, and they want proof. They want to know what the bidder has delivered in the past, who for, when, how, for how long, and to what level of success.
Detail is critical. It’s not enough to tell the buyer that they will work with ‘a fully qualified team’ – they want names! What are their qualifications? What level of experience does each team member have? What makes them the right people for the job?
2. Clocking onto time management
Before starting any bid, it’s crucial to have a clear bid management strategy with visible, assigned tasks. There’s the research and content gathering, initial write up, client meetings, internal checks, client checks, and then the final internal proofread. Multiple people can work on any of those tasks at any one point, so we use multiple bid management tools to make sure we meet our deadlines. Any small missed task (even adding page numbers) is extra hassle that isn’t needed on deadline day.
3. Check, check, and check again
Before starting a bid, we read through the tender documents with a fine-tooth comb, picking out any rules or requirements for the writing task. For example, some buyers might want to see charts and graphs. Others might forbid the use of photos, or attachments. There are often strict wordcounts or page restrictions to keep to.
Each bid is checked over thoroughly in the final proofreading stages before we submit. But there’s proofreading… and then there’s proofreading properly. The biggest tip I’ve picked up so far is to read. Every. Single. Word.
4. Communication is key
I used to need silence to write, but in our office? No chance! We constantly keep each other in the loop about the progress of each bid, to make sure tasks aren’t duplicated and each piece of work is checked by another member of the team. We’ve maintained constant communication during lockdown with two scheduled team meetings a day, and calls in between.
Digital version control is king. There’s nothing worse than (literally) overwriting someone else’s work! For the same reason, we always copy relevant members of the OTP team into all client emails, so we don’t send repeat information.
5. Don’t go it alone
Unlike writing an article for a magazine or blog, every bid is a team effort. OTP’s approach is to play to each individual’s strengths. Learning to delegate (and knowing who to delegate to) is one of those textbook challenges that can’t be avoided when putting together a winning tender response.
Getting to grips with new processes, people, and partners at OTP has been challenging but exciting. Whether it’s a speedy bid review or a mammoth 30-question tender, there’s always a new project to get stuck into. Who knows what the next month (let alone six months!) will hold…