What should I put into the Executive Summary?

For bid writers writing a tender and aiming to make the best possible impression on the client, the Executive Summary is all important. It will almost certainly be used as the starting point of their decision-making discussions. For some of those decision makers, the Executive Summary will be the only part of the tender proposal that they actually read.

Because it will be read by virtually everyone who reads the proposal, the Executive Summary should be concise, readable and avoid technical jargon. Bear in mind that the readers are likely to be impatient and lacking in technical training, if not extremely stressed.

That being the case, bid writers should focus on the win themes that are the focus throughout the tender.  Keep it short and relevant. Resist the urge to simply summarise everything else in the tender proposal: you should already have a table of contents.

Finally, it is worth bid writers taking extra time to ensure that your executive summary is properly presented. It is vital to proof read it carefully, given its importance to the success of the tender proposal.

How to Successfully Manage a Proposal

3) Proposal checklist – Writing your Proposal

Even though you’ve already spent a lot of time in preparation, writing the document is the most important part of the process.  Aside from the more general groundwork, it’s now time to think about the text itself.  Collating all the necessary information into an easy to read document that sells your company and its abilities is a difficult task, this checklist will help to organise your thoughts and guide you while taking on the job.

  • Keep sentences short and use easy to understand, effective language.  You can use bullet points and headings to make the text easier to read.
  • Sum up your bid, explaining succinctly why it meets all the client’s needs and why your company is best to undertake the work, or provide the service.  Write this last and put it into the front of your document.
  • When you talk about yourselves highlight your success stories, especially with similar projects.  Aim to prove you have the skills and experience needed to meet the customer’s brief.

Your tender should include the following sections:

  1. Quotation – The first document should outline the requirements of the job, how you plan to fulfil them and how much this may cost.  If this is an estimate, it is essential the customer understands the final costs may differ.  The quotation needs to contain an overview of what you are providing, the time you expect this to take, contingency and the validity period of the tender.
  2. Terms and conditions – The second section of the tender contains the terms and conditions.  Most bids include a standard version of this.
  3. Letter of Agreement – This will state when the job will start, give targets for completion and payment terms.
  4. You should also include information about your company and staff.  This can come in the form of short CVs or biographies, detailing your skills and relevant experience.

Tender Writing: Your proposal checklist

Proposal Checklist – Preparing to write your proposal submission

Now that you have thought about how your company will handle the tendering process, it is time to think about writing the tender itself.  There are things you should consider, and information you should gather, before beginning to write so you create the best document you are capable of.

  • What do you know about your client?  This information can be extremely useful in knowing how to pitch your document.  Perhaps the client is looking for particular benefits, for example price or level of service.
  • Make sure you are not just there to test the market or to make up numbers.  You may even want to think about requesting your customers sign a non-disclosure agreement before presenting.  This will help to ensure any ideas or information you wish to protect remains yours.
  • If you are bidding for something the customer has previously received from someone else, what can you learn from the service provided by the current or previous supplier?  You are allowed to ask the customer about this and it may help lend more insight into how to fit your bid to their needs.
  • Make sure you have all the latest information from your team, are you up to date with all the work your they have been doing on the bid?
  • Have you collected all of the relevant documents and information you will need when writing your bid, in particular, your quotation?
  • Read all the requirements and follow the instructions to the letter.  It may surprise you to learn that lots of bids are rejected simply for not complying with the instructions.  (Or it may not surprise you at all, if yours has been one of them!)
  • Remember you’re in competition.  It may help to think about what you would consider if a company was bidding to you.