Choosing a bid management consultancy

There are many reasons for recruiting a bid management consultancy:

  • The next tender is a must win contract
  • You want to improve your bid writing capabilities
  • You are short of bid management resource or a Bid Director
  • You need to find the best contract opportunities
  • Your Win Rate is simply not where you want it to be

Writing and managing a bid for a commercial contract or a local authority tender can be a daunting prospect, demanding skills that your company may not have needed before. However, hiring a bid management consultancy represents an additional cost, so what should you look for when choosing?

Find Tenders

It may be that you want to find the best contract opportunities for your business. Find bid writers who know their way around the arcane tender websites to find contracts for tender in whichever industry you are involved in, from construction contracts to public sector tenders. Moreover, find a bid writer who will be honest when assessing your capabilities and chances of success. There’s no point in wasting precious time and money applying for tender contracts you can’t win.

Bid Writing

Writing bids is a complex and time consuming process. Find bid writers who have years or decades of practice in assembling bid proposals, who understand the art of tender document templates and win themes and the most effective use of language. Search out bid writers with experience of public sector tendering as both bid writer and procurement officer, with detailed insider knowledge of the UK tender process. A good consultancy will vastly increase the pool of skills available to any company tendering for contracts.

Bid Management

Managing a bid is an enormous undertaking often involving months of work. Many stakeholders and hundreds of documents require co-ordination. Look for veteran bid managers and Directors with reputable accreditation (APMP or similar) and many years of understanding in how to win tenders. Find bid managers or Bid Directors who know how to deal with the inevitable crises and problems, and are willing to work out of hours to fix them.

How to Win Bids

Bid consultants don’t just have to write your bid; they can also transform your capabilities. Training sessions can show your staff how to tender for contracts and greatly improve their processes. They can help assemble the necessary documents and skills to get those local government tenders or commercial opportunities. Properly trained and experienced bid consultants can help you win that tender contract even if they are not involved in the actual process, by transferring their skills and experience to your team.

Win that Bid

Win that Bid possesses all of the qualities and experience needed to help you win that tender contract. Our multi-sector bid management specialists have worked across the industry and in procurement, and used those skills to transform the capabilities – and bottom line of many organisations. From training to bid writing, Win that Bid today!

Qualifying the Bid

The G4S debacle we discussed in the last post raised a big issue for bid writers: how to qualify your bid. Is that astonishing £300 million tender opportunity going to turn into a real disaster for your company? Less melodramatically, are your bid writers going to waste weeks of sleepless nights filling out PQQs trying to win a bid you weren’t ever going to win?

Don’t go for every bid

Setting aside an apparent opportunity isn’t the same as wasting one. Trying to win a tender opportunity means putting in an enormous investment in time and energy. Much better to put that effort into a quality proposal than spreading it across dozens of failed prospects.

Before you choose which bids to aim for, read the tender contracts in detail and consider:

  • Are you qualified for the bid? Do you have the right accreditation, the right resources, the right documentation to get through the PQQ? More to the point, can you demonstrate that to the procurer?
  • Is the bid right for your business? Can you demonstrate prior work for clients in the same sector?
  • Do you understand the bid requirements? That unclear pricing structure could really hurt you after the contract is won, as happened to G4S!
  • Who is the buyer? Do you have a relationship with them? Will you be able to establish a dialogue with them? Will they ask you to provide five times the number of personnel you were contracted for at the last minute, and do you have contingency plans if they do?
  • Who are your competitors? Can your bid writers demonstrate why it is that your company will be a better choice?

Get some sleep!

The answers to those questions aren’t always as obvious as they sound, particularly in tender contracts with long or arcane PQQs. Win that Bid has a lot of experience in helping people to get those winning contracts, but also in avoiding two of the great curses of bid writing: wasting time on failed bids, or winning bids that the company was never suitable for in the first place.

Get Tender Ready with The TROC button today

What Does It Mean?

Get Tender Ready with the TROC todayCompanies that have passed the TROC (Tender Readiness Online Check) or otherwise prequalified to respond to large private or public sector invitations to tender may display this symbol.

What Does It Mean For Tendering Authorities And Procurement Officers?

Public Sector organisations should look for this symbol on SME company websites, because:
  • An SME company displaying THE TROC TENDER READY symbol is indicating that it has met the minimum criteria qualifying it to respond to a Public Sector tender
  • This means that the tendering body can confidently approach the company and invite them to participate in a procurement exercise.
  • Looking for the TROC TENDER READY button will help tendering authorities to meet the Government’s aspiration that ‘25% of public sector contracts should be awarded to SMEs’.

The TROC Tender Ready symbol is a private sector initiative, with no government funding or taxpayers’ money involved.

Companies who have successfully completed and passed a Public Sector PQQ or won a contract within the last TWELVE months should contact info@procurementconnection.org.uk to get their badge and press pack.

It’s up to the both the Private and Public Sectors, as well as the press and other media organisations, to raise awareness of the TROC Tender Ready symbol: it will help procurement officers to identify ‘Tender Ready’ busineeses and therefore help more SMEs to win Public Sector contracts.

Tender Writing Insights: Managing Online Tender Portals

Recently, some of the Win That Bid team completed a large and complex bid involving the public sector portal ‘Bravo’. There are hundreds of online procurement portals around all with their own language and foibles. However, there are some basic principles that can help you when, with that deadline looming, you find yourself wrestling desperately trying to submit your online tender.

Access

Know your login details and ensure you have the correct level of user access

Having spent weeks or months with your head buried in the tender writing documentation, the time has arrived to upload your submission. And if you’ve forgotten your login details or do not have a sufficient level of access let’s hope you haven’t realised this too late i.e. out of working hours, during busy periods or just prior to the deadline. Online help will only get you so far so if it’s a human being you need to speak to then make sure you do so in advance.

Utilise quieter periods

Early mornings, late nights, weekends and Bank Holidays are ideal

The majority of your competitors will leave their tender writing and submission to the last minute. The risk here is that the portal will time out due to the sheer volume of documents being uploaded. The Win That Bid team who worked on this latest bid submitted documents as they were completed, and in some cases as far as two weeks in advance. They also made use of early mornings, late nights and the Easter holidays.

Upload larger documents first

Larger documents take longer

As larger documents take longer to upload start with them first. This is especially the case with heavy document based tender portals such as Bravo that may not have a limit on the amount of tender documents you are allowed to submit.

Save, save, check, check again and save

Don’t get timed out or caught out

Tender portals will usually time out after 15 minutes of being dormant. Make sure to hit save as soon as you’ve uploaded your latest documents.

Once you have finished uploading go back and check all questions have been answered and all documents have been uploaded. Often you can print the documents list from the portal and more than often you will find there is at least one document missing. Never assume a document has saved.

And if it’s all too much outsource your tender writing, bid and document management to the 2am wrestling experts at Win That Bid.

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.

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?

On Your Marks – LOCOG Advertises New Opportunities – Catering and Cleaning First off the Starter Block

Drum roll please….Working in the cleaning business? As mentioned a couple of weeks ago on this very blog, the London Organising Committee (LOCOG) is now starting to advertise fantastic business opportunities in the field of catering and food services and cleaning and waste.

With approximately £700 million to spend on goods and services in preparation for the London Games in 2012 – 20% of which will go to on catering, cleaning and waste and many provided by small and medium sized enterprises – we just know there is an opportunity out there with your name all over it!  As usual, LOCOG opportunities will be advertised on the online portal www.CompeteFor.co.uk.  So if you haven’t yet registered your business on the site, what are you waiting for?

And if you’d rather not do all this kind of dirty work yourself – why not save yourself some time and energy and employ the services of Win That Bid? We will hunt down the most relevant opportunities for you and make sure you get those bids done and dusted.

Get your Fish and Chips, Pies and Pasties and Chicken Tikka Massala at the London Olympics!

80% of the food served at the Olympics will be sourced from local British businesses!

Hello food lovers and entrepreneurs! Here is some great news for those of you working in the UK food and catering industry: the London 2012 Organising Committee has recently pledged in its ‘Food Vision’ http://www.london2012.com/publications/food-vision.php to serve ‘the best of British food’ during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

And what fantastic opportunities for British businesses: 80% of the food served at the Olympics will be sourced from local British businesses – the remaining 20% being supplied by London 2012 commercial partners, Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Cadburys etc.

The recently disclosed London 2012 Food Vision aims to set new standards for catering at UK events; Local, seasonal, healthier and sustainable standards will be favored. All dairy products, beef, lamb and poultry must be British. In addition, bananas, tea, coffee and sugar will be Fairtrade. And 100% of the 19 tonnes of eggs that will be served will have to be cage-free.

And to help you get a feel for the size of the operation – a whopping 14 million meals to be served, this roughly means businesses will need to supply some:

*25,000 loaves of bread
*232 tonnes of potatoes
*82 tonnes of seafood
*31 tonnes of poultry
*100 tonnes of meat
*75,000 litres of milk
*21 tonnes of cheese (yum) and
*330 tonnes of fruit and vegetables

If you would like to be one of the lucky businesses that will cater at the Olympics, the search to find catering suppliers is now underway! For your chance of obtaining a piece of the 2012 pie (sorry couldn’t help it!) get your business onto www.competefor.co.uk And if you’re more pie filling than form filling let us foodies at Win That Bid give you a helping hand. Growing businesses is really what we do best.