If you want to win a large contract, your quote has to convince the customer that you are the best candidate for the job. But how do you develop an effective quote? How does bid writing work?
In this series of four articles we discuss the basics of successful bid management (also: proposal management): teamwork and technology, the power of checklists and the importance of packaging.
For larger contracts, public or private organizations must/want to compare a number of potential contractors. It is only logical that they want to weigh carefully who can deliver the best product or service at the best price. Therefore, the client issues a tender that defines the requirements, parameters and conditions of the assignment.
Interested companies apply and go through a first selection, for example on the basis of financial capacity. Once that hurdle is cleared, the real work begins. A systematic and focused approach increases the chances of success.
The ideal world (…)
In an ideal world, a project or bid manager puts together a team of experts that are available full-time. These specialists work from the same location and are given sufficient time and budget to deliver the right documentation in time.
Such a dream team remains a dream in most circumstances: it is (too) expensive to deploy a team of people for months on end to write a quote, while the result is by definition uncertain. It is also difficult or impossible to put current projects on hold. Economic laws usually dictate a pragmatic approach. If time and money are limited, it is extra important to work efficiently.
For a larger assignment, it is common that a temporary team is put together, that consists of people from different departments, subsidiary or sister companies, external consultants … specialists that cannot spend too much time on the project. To be able to work in a targeted manner, a project manager or core team leads the way, continues to monitor the trajectory and adjusts the course where necessary.
This person will probably contribute less in terms of content, but will monitor timing, progress, deadlines, meetings, cooperation, structure … He or she must have a clear mandate to be able to make swift decisions, and must be sufficiently persuasive to motivate colleagues to respect deadlines and follow procedures.
Practical bid management steps
- Keep all relevant bid documents in one place and give the team access as quickly as possible. Make a summary of the most important documents / messages / requirements.
- Organize a kick-off meeting with everyone who participates in the bid to get to know each other (better).
- Present and discuss the core of the bid.
Think about the following questions:
- What does the client specifically ask for?
- What are our strengths and weaknesses?
- Do we know the competitors?
- Who is our audience, which people will read the tender?
- Discuss the approach and timeline of the entire process.
- Make clear agreements about:
- Way of working together: software and tools.
- Who does what: roles within the team.
- Consistency in language use: agree on a style guide for the project.
- Deadlines and milestones: use a clear calendar or gantt chart.
- Version management
- Review process: how and by whom are documents validated?
- The “definition of done”: when are we ready (enough)?
- Periodic status meetings with (a part of) the team help to keep an overview and can often eliminate ambiguities faster than e-mail correspondences.
The right software, used in the right way will also be beneficial for a smooth collaboration. More about that in part 2 of this series.
Flow helps bid managers and subject matter experts
Flow helps you to put these insights into practice. We help clients who are engaged in contracts and tenders with:
- Message and wording
- Consistency and uniformity
- Document management and templates
- Usability and readability
- Commercial appearance and packaging
We make sure that your experts can focus on the content
We ensure that internal specialists only have to deal with content and guarantee a user-friendly end product in an attractive packaging. Flow, with its office in Ghent, makes complex information user-friendly, accessible and efficient. Contact us to optimize your chances for the next quote.