WIN THAT BID ANNOUNCE THORNTON & LOWE MERGER!

London based Win That Bid, one of the UK’s leading bid-management firms, has announced their merger with tender and procurement specialists Thornton & Lowe, with offices in Greater Manchester, Central Scotland, North East and West Midlands, to further strengthen its position as the industry leader in the bidding and tendering arena.

Following extensive discussions between Directors from both businesses, the merger, will see Win That Bid remain in its current location, continuing to serve the capital and southern counties, but will operate as a division of the Thornton & Lowe group of companies.

Both Win That Bid and Thornton & Lowe, have built strong reputations as two of the leading providers of bid-management services, as well as strong commercial foundations, which will no doubt make the new entity, the envy of its competitors.

Director, Dave Thornton, was excited with the merger as well as what the future holds. He said: “Since Thornton & Lowe opened its doors, we have aimed to build a business that is both strong in foundation and ethics, but ambitious with its strategy for expansion.

“We already have a significant client base in the South, but wanted to make sure that we had a visual presence in the capital, to complement our regional offices in Greater Manchester, Central Scotland, Birmingham and the North East. Merging with Win That Bid is the logical next step to continue the natural evolution of our business.

“As a team of in-house bid and business-management professionals, we pride ourselves on our exceptional service, and we’re very much looking forward to the next chapter of our exciting story!”

Since 2009 Thornton & Lowe and its team continue to guide both SME and blue-chip clients through the tender process, giving them the opportunity to maximise success rates and stay one step ahead of the competition. Part of the Thornton & Lowe family of businesses also includes a business development division, M&D, as well as their training and education arm, Thinking to Success.

Sarah Green, Director of Win That Bid said: “We are overjoyed that we have merged with Thornton & Lowe. The future in our industry is a bright one, and we are confident we are able to offer a consistent, and truely outstanding service to all our clients.”

For more information, please contact a member of the team at one of our UK locations: London: 0203 405 1850, Greater Manchester: 01204 2338 046, Central Scotland: 01334 208 312, Midlands: 0121 523 1051, email: hello@winthatbid.com or visit www.winthatbid.com… we’ll bring the biscuits!

OJEU opportunities: 2014 Thresholds & Limits

Proposal writers may have noticed that on the 1st January 2014 the EU published new public procurement financial thresholds. These will apply to all award procedures under the public contracts regulations 2006. With these recent changes, now is a good time to look at what the financial thresholds are and what they mean for proposal writers looking for opportunities.

The UK thresholds for public sector tenders under the latest regulations are:

  • Supply/Service contracts awarded by central government- £111,676.
  • Supply/Service contracts awarded by other contracting authorities – £172,514.
  • Works contracts – £4,322,012.

If the contracting authority wishes to enter into multiple contracts to fulfil the same requirement, then the value of those contracts will be aggregated together to decide whether it crosses the threshold. The rules are very specific about this: when offering public sector tenders contracting authorities must not enter into separate contracts below the thresholds in order to avoid having to apply the regulations.

If the value of a tender exceeds these values then it must be listed in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU), which is a major source of public sector tenders for proposal writers. The OJEU is a very good resource for anyone looking for tender opportunities. Win that Bid can help you navigate through these complicated procedures.

Did your Win Theme get bronze, silver or gold?

The client has a problem that it can’t solve itself. So it submits an invitation to tender (ITT) in order to discover the best available solution to that problem. In order to attract the client’s attention, a bid writer needs to have the most compelling solution to that problem, and that should all be encapsulated in the Win Theme which needs to run through the entire bid proposal.

Brainstorm the problem

If you are having trouble coming up with a win theme, consider the client. Is it a public sector tender or for a private company?

  • What does the client want?
  • Why do they want it?
  • What are the client’s priorities?
  • What are the client’s long term goals?
  • What worries the client?
  • What skills or products do I have that can answer those questions for the client?

Focus on the client

The client’s problem isn’t going to be solved by a detailed description of your company, its history and achievements, or even the quality of your general services. It needs a specific solution, which your bid writer’s win theme should address. Is there one primary focus – cost, regulatory compliance, innovation?

What can you offer the client that beats your competitors?

Make it the theme of your bid proposal

Once you’ve decided on a win theme, weave it through your document – not just the executive summary. Your bid writers should emphasise how your technical solutions reflect the theme. Highlight how your solution will allow the client to meet the goals you have identified.

If you or your bid writers are having trouble finding a compelling win theme, Win that Bid can help you find the answer!

Two Stage Tendering for Destination Builds

Perhaps the most crucial factors contributing to the success of a destination builds (tourist attractions, hotels, restaurants, head offices) are location and design.  Once chosen, there’s not much you can do about location.  Design however, is a different matter.  Not only does it cause challenges throughout the initial fit out, over time the building will need to re-design to keep up to date.

There are four main methods of procurement and central to each is the responsibility of design.

1) Construct Only: This method sees the developer appoint a design team which will control all areas of design until the project is finished.  Once the design of the building is completed the developer will tender for a construction team.  This tender will be solely for construction duties and as bidding is for a finished design, tenderers can bid a lump sum.  The main advantage of this procurement process is that the developer retains control of design, vital to the owners. The contractor is also taking on less risk than a project that may still change so costs can be driven down.  However, this step by step process demands a lot more time than ones where building and design can overlap or coincide.

2) Design and Build: Design and build procurement involves the developer having their own design team which will begin the design process.  Then, once the design has reached a suitable stage, a design-build contract is issued.  The contractor who wins this contract will continue to develop the design, replacing the original team, while carrying out building works.  An advantage is that the work can begin earlier which will save the developer money.  It also limits the risk of extension of time claims due to design error.  There are some disadvantages.  Tenders will ask a higher price than Construct Only contracts, as they do more work.  Also, the developer loses design ownership key to the brand of the building.  It is possible for the developer to employ a team of design monitoring consultants but the opportunities for confrontation and crossed wires arise, as do more costs.

3) Two-Stage Tendering:  This can be seen as a adaptation to the Design and Build process.  It is sometimes thought of as more suitable for smaller, less complex buildings, but is increasingly popular.  This arrangement involves a contractor carrying out pre-construction work and assisting the developer’s design team.  It is usually let on a guaranteed maximum price basis.  When the design has progressed to a point where construction is able to begin, the developer will enter into either a construct only contract or possibly a design-build contract to complete the works.  The benefits of two-stage tendering to the developer involve retaining the all-important design control.  Also, as the developer has been able to engage the contractor early and obtain a fixed price for the second stage, this system provides cost and time savings.

4) Construction Management: With this system, the developer employs a construction manager as an advisor.  All works required throughout the building will be divided into packages and the construction manager will give guidance on the best way to do this.  The developer then enters into each separate contract while the construction manager oversees the process.  As everything is done under separate contracts, pre-construction works can begin while design is still being finalised.  When the design is finished one single contract can be issued for the rest of the works.  The main advantage to this method is the degree of control the developer keeps over the design.  The main disadvantage though, is that there is no single point of contact on the construction side.  Errors, queries and suggestions must involve tracking down the relevant contractor.  This is difficult for the developer and very unattractive to any lenders.  Previously, construction managers were assumed to have relatively little liability, as they are have no direct, contractual link with sub-contractors.  However, after the high profile Great Eastern Hotels case, construction managers and developers may view the arrangement differently.

Need tender writing or bid management assistance? Get in touch 0203 405 1850 or email hello@winthatbid.com

Are you ready for the Bribery Act?

The Bribery Act 2010 is due to come into effect very soon but are you prepared for the change it will bring?

Increasingly, public sector tenders require the supplier to explain their anti-bribery and anti-corruption processes and procedures. Despite a number of delays The Bribery Act is now due to come into force on 1st July 2011. The purpose of the Act amongst other things will be to:

  • provide a more effective legal framework to combat bribery in the public or private sectors
  • create two general offences covering the offering, promising or giving of an advantage, and requesting, agreeing to receive or accepting of an advantage
  • create a discrete offence of bribery of a foreign public official
  • create a new offence of failure by a commercial organisation to prevent a bribe being paid for or on its behalf (it will be a defence if the organisation has adequate procedures in place to prevent bribery
  • replace the fragmented and complex offences at common law and in the Prevention of Corruption Acts 1889-1916
  • require the Secretary of State to publish guidance about procedures that relevant commercial organisations can put in place to prevent bribery on their behalf
  • help tackle the threat that bribery poses to economic progress and development around the world.

The Ministry of Justice published updated procedure guidance on 30th March 2011 that can be put into place by commercial organisations. The report advises that an organisation can form a case against the offence of failing to prevent bribery providing that they can prove adequate procedures are in place in the organisation. This is under section 7 of the Bribery Act 2010.

The guidance sets out six principles that will assist commercial organisations with planning, implementing, monitoring and reviewing their business to ensure it is bribery free.

The principles are:

  1. Proportionate procedures
  2. Top level commitment
  3. Risk assessment
  4. Due diligence
  5. Communication
  6. Monitoring and Review

After each principle there are suggested practical guidelines to help your organisation address them. This designates control to the organisations to review their business and undertake the relevant risk assessments to determine whether or not their procedures are sufficiently robust. If your organisation does not meet the required standard, you are advised to implement anti-bribery procedures as soon as possible.

The guidance presents a risk based approach to adopting the sufficient procedures and acknowledges that different procedures will suit different organisations depending on

  • size of the company
  • markets in which the business operates in
  • the nature of the company’s business partners and transactions.

If you are flummoxed with your obligations under this new act or are having difficulties with any aspect of your bids and tenders, Win That Bid is simply a phone call away.

Tender Writing Insights: What no PQQ, Francis Maude?

The hills are alive with the gentle rumblings and occasional cheers about the possibility of scrapping the PQQ (pre-qualifying questionnaire) stage of the public tender process.

Francis Maude has confirmed that by scraping certain parts of the PQQ process, it will help encourage small and medium-sized enterprises to win public sector contracts. Nice sentiment but is it really going to help the SME? At Win That Bid, we spend some of our working day with clients to help them with the tender writing and PQQ process and quite frankly some of them are so badly written and poorly assembled, you wander what the Buyer was thinking of. Maybe they were thinking of what they were going to do at the weekend or what they are going to have for lunch, definitely not thinking about the job in hand. Often they are riddled with errors, contradictory text and have confusing sentence structures which all add to the hassle of the tender writing task.

Inspite of these frustrations, we must remember that the questionnaire stage serves an important purpose. It helps the buyer reduce the amount of unsuitable bidders whilst suppliers spend a fraction of the time finding out whether they are/are not suitable. Imagine if the way to win contracts meant going straight to tender? This would mean that SME would have to spend much more time tendering to no avail which could ultimately mean less companies compete. Francis Maude’s intention is good, however, perhaps he needs to think about his approach. Perhaps it is not the process that is at fault, more the interpretation by buyers.

Often irrelevant questions are asked and demands for policies and procedures need to be met even if they have nothing to do with demonstrating one’s capability at delivering the actual service. Francis Maude should focus on delivering more training and guidelines to buyers as well as reviewing the PQQ process to ensure the all important fairness to the SME market.

What do you think? Tell us or drop us a line on any aspect of the tender writing process.

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.

latest LOCOG Procurement schedule

Latest LOCOG Procurement Timetable

There are still tons of Olympic opportunities up for grabs.   Have a look at LOCOG’s latest procurement schedule to find out when it’s your turn to bid.  If you need any advice on tendering for the London games we’re always ready to help.

There are still tons of Olympic opportunities up for grabs.  Have a look at LOCOG’s latest procurement schedule to find out when it’s your turn to bid.  If you need any advice we’re always ready to help.

Category Date Opportunity
Artists, Performance & Events Oct – Dec 2010

Jan – Mar 2011

Apr – June 2011

?     Sport production services

?     Sport creative design

?     Sport production (workforce)

?     Torch relay – staging

?     Retail – shopping bags

?     Orchestras

?     Gifts and promotional merchandise

?     Collectibles and awards

?     Professional artists and performers

?     Costumes and props

Facilities Management & Catering Jan – Mar 2011 ?     Catering equipment
Security Jan – Mar 2011 ?     Security contracts audit
Services Oct – Dec 2010

Jan – Mar 2011

?     Accessible formats – BSL, Easy Read, Audio description

?     Broadcast monitoring

?     Artwork production for advertising

?     Website moderation

?     Workforce training venue (large)

?     Training delivery & materials

Sports Oct – Dec 2010

Jan – Mar 2011

Apr – June 2011

Modern Pentathlon, Horses, Fencing Equipment, Athlete Boats, Numbers-Bibs-Stickers, Buoys, Anemometers, Equestrian Show jumps, On Water Safety, GPS, Rowing Equipment, Equestrian Equipment.

Sailing Equipment, Boccia Equipment, Canoe Equipment, Beach Volleyball, Swimming Pool Equipment, Alcohol Test Units, Hockey Equipment, Athletics Equipment, Goal Ball, Handball Equipment, Scoreboards / Charts, Cycling Equipment.

Swim / Triathlon Boats, Whistles, Cones, Heat/Light Monitors, Tools/Repair Material, Ropes/Belts, Sports Specific Flags, Goal ball Equipment, Stationary, Consumables, Sewing Services, Coolers/Refrigerators, Triathlon Equipment.

Sports Medical Oct – Dec 2010

Jan – Mar 2011

?     Dental Equipment and consumables

?     Optometry

?     Weymouth and football venues services.

Technology Oct – Dec 2010 ?     IT reseller agreement.
Transport & Logistics Oct – Dec 2010

Jan – Mar 2011

?     Mobility vehicles

?     Village blinds and curtains

?     General tools and outdoor furniture

?     Fire equipment

?     Office furniture and safes

?     Sat Nav and tracking units

?     Press centre furniture

?     Driver scheduling and rostering

?     Traffic management consultancy

?     Driving license checks

?     Vehicle livery and graphics

?     Plant and machinery

Venues & Infrastructure Oct – Dec 2010

Jan – Mar 2011

?     Technology support structures

?     Portable water and waste

?     Alterations to existing buildings and CAT B fit out

?     Scaffold and superstructure systems

?     Site works and infrastructure

?     Temporary event fit out

Do I need a Quality Management Policy?

Do I need a Quality Management Policy?

When you’re starting up it can be hard to keep track of all the little things that don’t directly affect your ability to finish the job in hand.  Things like company procedures and policies can start to seem like extras, “I’ll get round to it one day”.  But one policy in particular is essential to all businesses, especially those considering tendering; a quality management policy or statement. There are two main reasons not to overlook quality management in any type of company, particularly when you’re starting up.  Firstly, a good policy will help the smooth running of your business and improve the job you do, which could actually make establishing your company easier.  Secondly, making a name for yourself is difficult, and to bring in business you will need to offer the highest standards of quality.  When you bid for a contract more and more organisations want the assurance of good service that a written quality of policy can provide.

What should a Quality Management Policy measure?

Your policy should aim to ensure that every job you carry out is the best you can deliver, so tailor it to suit what you do.  Look at individual case studies and write up a list of best practice.  How can you measure whether this is achieved every time?  Perhaps think about drawing up time lines or where you can add quality control checks.  You can do this for you business generally or concentrate on individual areas.  Keep in mind that the job of the policy is so you and your client can gauge how well your business is operating.

Official standards

A quality management policy is something you can do yourself but there are official standards available such as ISO 9001 and Investors in People.  ISO 9001, the International Standard of Organisation, is a family of standards that provide a framework from which your quality management policy can be created.  It has a worldwide reputation but the process can be quite rigorous.  Investors in People is a UK based organisation aimed at business development.  Having something like ISO 9001 can help you when making tenders, and is actually something many of the larger organisations demand these days, so you may want to consider whether applying could help your business.  Professional help could be a real advantage when devising your policy or working towards an ISO accreditation. Win That Bid’s compliance experts are ready to take you calls and help you with any quality or policy questions you may have. We can even facilitate the ISO process for you or write you a policy to ISO equivalent standards.

We’d love to know if there’s anything you find particularly challenging about the process, why not share your story in the comments section?

Do I need a Health and Safety policy?

Though required by law if you employ more than 5 people, a written health and safety policy can sometimes seem like an unnecessary hassle for a small business.  Surely you can trust your colleagues to behave safely at work?  But taking the time to create a well thought out document isn’t just important to avoid breaking the law;  It shows a real commitment to your employees and responsibilities.

A health and safety policy is a record of how you plan to deal with any health and safety issues.  If you employ more than five people it will need to be written down.  This is so all of your staff know what you’re doing for them and what they must do as employees to keep the workplace safe.  While they are working for you, you have a legal responsibility to maintain their safety.  Officially you must ensure that safe systems of work are set and followed, risks to health are eliminated or controlled and that your workers have the information, instruction, training and supervision necessary for their health and safety.

Health and safety policies are usually made up of three sections.

1. The first section should include your targets.  A list of issues you are going to tackle.
2. Secondly, you outline whose responsibility these targets are.
3. Thirdly, the action or arrangements section should demonstrate how you can accomplish them.

You should also include the locations of your health and safety poster and any first aid equipment.  Lastly, make sure you’ve signed and dated the policy and set a date for review.

Obviously safe practice will mean different things in different workplaces, so your policy will be unique to your company.  Most new businesses no longer need to register with the Health and Safety Executive or local authority.  Those that may need to register are those dealing with hazardous substances, like asbestos, or in hazardous industries, like construction.  A great resource offering advice, templates and guides is the HSE’s official site  http://www.hse.gov.uk/index.htm  Alternatively, our compliance team can assist you with any matters of health and safety from policy writing to conducting your audits. Just call on 0203 405 1850 or email hello@winthatbid.com