The fundamentals of effective bid writing

Evaluation of bids for work can often be based on price or lowest cost only but many procuring employers, particularly public sector organisations or those with a public sector ethos, ask for substantial amounts of other information for you to demonstrate your abilities and experience as part of the tender. Here are some top tips from CP Ltd to remember when putting your bid together:

Assess what chance you have of winning – A common approach to assessing bids is for employers to have a scoring matrix. This lists their key criteria for projects. They may have statements across the matrix that they will compare your submission to. The closer the bid you submit comes to the statement in their grid then that is the score you will be assigned. If some criteria are very important to them they then weight the criteria. Study the evaluation criteria and ask where it is not clear . It is important to put effort into addressing each criteria or point as fully as possible.

There is no silver bullet or magic formula to writing a successful bid – aim to:

Follow the basics; Be truthful and succinct; Break down requests into manageable bite-sized pieces; Spread the load

Plan what you are going to do – discuss and write down on a plan of bid actions what is to be completed.

Use the support available from the procuring organisation – particularly public sector procurers are driven towards transparency in decision making and are governed by procurement rules and they need you to deliver against the objectives and targets that they have. They will not support local communities, build skills or refurbish needed facilities. They need you for this. Use them to help you understand the bidding and procurement process, put your response together and make sense of their procedures. Use their skills to help you.

Resourcing and proving ability to deliver – Where will you deliver this service? How will you deliver it? You must be clear on the resources to deliver the project for staffing and inputs. When will this project start and end?

Show clear project management –  who, within the organisation, can drive the project forward. The person leading a project is crucial to the success of the project. Ownership from an early stage (even when bidding) leads to more effective projects. You must develop implementation strategies and consider a project plan, timetable and potential outputs. It is important that monitoring issues are considered at the earliest point.

Understand the procuring organisation / employer and your alignment – You  should strive to understand why the client is procuring and how you can help them meet their objectives. For example, if the aim is “to decrease social isolation within disadvantaged communities‟, you have to ensure that this information is within the answers that you offer to their questions. Consider setting SMART objectives for your responses.

Specific – You must be able to clearly define your objectives that you want to achieve. Measurable – You should be able to measure whether you are making progress and meeting the objectives or not. Achievable – Are the objectives you set achievable and attainable? Realistic – Can you realistically achieve the objectives with the resources you have? Time – You should have a time-frame within which you will achieve the set objectives. The client needs to have confidence in the bidder and that you have credibility. Demonstrate that you learn from what works elsewhere and bring some of these ideas to bear on their project. Can you show that you have done this?

Build and show a strong partnership approach – Select, approach and work with partners that complement your skills and experience. Work with others who add value to your bid. Partnership working has been the watchword of the public sector for some years. A substantially increased emphasis on social enterprise and social value impacts now underpins much policy development and has widespread cross-party support. At the same time, partnership working in practice is difficult – aim to show the benefits of collaborative advantage.

Be clear and use Plain English and graphics –  You must be clear and concise. Avoid as far as possible the use of jargon. You must express yourself succinctly.  For example, write ”We aim to help‟ and not ”We believe that our work will help”. You should use one word instead of four and use short sentences. (Have pity on the person reading these bids!) You should be enthusiastic and persuasive. The term AIDA is often used. This means that you will:  Attract – attract the reader’s attention;  Interest – create interest in your project; Desire -make the reader desire to help; and Action – inspire action).

Exploit chances you have to stand out from the crowd – Many projects have a real opportunity to do this because each one of them is trying to do something that is inspirational and worthwhile. The challenge is to make it jump off the page or roll off the tongue in a way that proves to be irresistible. This is easier said than done. All projects can describe what activities they are proposing and what facilities they are building, but is this really irresistible? Will this jump out at someone reading through the hundredth proposition? Probably not. So here are some further tips for building your story; for making the mundane magical; for lighting a little flame of curiosity in the mind of the reader.

Don’t slip up – do what you are told! – do not presume to know better than the employer/client. Do what you are asked to do in the Invitation to Tender guidance. Submit in the format requested (electronically? Paper? Or both?) All the documentation requested must be enclosed. The structure and layouts are often prescriptive so be sure to follow the guidance. Give yourself time to plan.

The deadline must be met! Deadline dates and time are absolutes; failure to submit on time will mean your bid is rejected. With regard to Appendices and additional documents people often ask whether they should add other documents such as: Business Plan, pictures or brochures. As stated above, you should do as you are told but unless specific items are requested don’t send anything in.

There may be a possibility of supplying further detail after your bid is submitted so just get it in on time.

The key to a successful CV

The key to a successful CV

A key part of your strategy to enable you to secure that new job, promotion and also important to help you show how you meet the eligibility criteria to study on some programmes of professional development and study.

What should not be in . . .

Regurgitated information straight lifted from previous CV’s

Comprehensive lists of job roles with lengthy descriptions of what your role entailed

What should you be ready for . . .

Technology based filtering systems that exclude your CV if you don’t adhere to the guidelines issued by the reader/system, and/or your use of fancy terminology and jargon based on and overly descriptive information.

What should be in . . .

  • Identify successes not job roles and responsibilities
  • Emphasise the success stories and outcomes rather than what you do and how you did it
  • You are valuable to others in what you are capable of, so let them see how and share how you as a commodity can and will add value to their bottom line or bring a different commercial dimension to a successful organisation
  • If you use social media and platforms such as Linkedin etc; look for consistency of messages and identity defining content

What should you know . . .

  • Information about what you are going to use the CV for
  • Understand the audience by researching the end game

What not to forget . . .

When all is said and done, although the CV is about you and is your marketing tool to help in securing that job or place on a programme.

Look at your audience and see what they want from you and don’t over-play the “I” can do in profile; use the approach of how your style can influence, engage and get results from you and others.

Pay attention to detail; formatting, spell checking and word checks are vital to demonstrate you are not only capable, but care and take time to ensure clarity and correctness in what you do.

  • No more than 2 pages; if necessary include your qualifications as an appendix
  • Always identify what the CV is for

Further guidance and support is available from our team, if you wish to create that essential self-marketing document please get in touch with us:

The keys to influencing your clients’ choices

The keys to influencing your clients’ choices

Strategy in organisations is about making choices about what to do and what not to do. CPL have developed some easy to read guiding principles that may help you to bridge the gap between strategic choices and actual impact. We understand that the art of making the right strategic choices and the hard work of transforming the choices into real business impact are often unsuccessful endeavours. Product and service quality and your reputation matter – that goes, in a way, without saying. How about when your service or product matches the client’s needs and wants, and they also trust you as deliverer? What are the things that influence further decisions once those fundamentals are in place?

At the heart of this complicated topic it may come as little surprise that it’s all about people – strategies in themselves do not accomplish anything. Endeavours succeed or fail because of the people involved. People are motivated by seeing and feeling a meaningful purpose, feeling confident about how to succeed, and being able to personally influence what they do. Top-down-managed strategic changes prone with uncertainties therefore are losing out in order to protect the status quo.

In order to bridge strategic intent with real business impact, we need to put the people and individual “sense-making” at the centre of choosing and implementing strategy. We need to rethink broken implementation models that put systems before people. We must acknowledge that connecting the thinking and the doing is a far more demanding journey than a strategy off- site away day.

The five guiding principles we outline below can serve as a strong starting point for many service and product providers to clients. Try and see the five guiding principles as played out together to aim for best impact.

1: Clarify strategy – Make complex strategic problems into as simple solutions as possible. Create focus on key value drivers for your client – sharpen your thoughts on what will really connect with them. The ability to sharpen their choices enables the creation of a simple and effective strategy. This can cut through complexity to answer the fundamental question: “Why are we doing it?” rather than just “What should we do?” or “How should we do it?”

(Note: Harvard Business School found that only 7% of employees fully understand their company’s business strategies and what is expected of them).

Top tip: Clarify major strategic issues and choices and craft a few”must-win” goals to focus efforts on client key drivers.

2: Unify and identify with the clients leaders and managers

Making strategy is separated from executing strategy in many organisations so we can end up facing severe challenges in terms of understanding a client’s strategy that has been “sold” to employees and stakeholders via persuasive power talks that “beg” the rest of the leadership team, middle management and employees get motivated and “bought in.”

In higher functioning client organisations the agreement about strategic choices needs to be rooted deeply in the extended management team. Empowering leaders to challenge each other and aligning views about the desired direction is one of the strongest tools for creating unity and making strategic choices work. Gaining access and building relationships in management teams that are based on mutual trust is much more effective where they exhibit a mutual commitment to “walking the talk”, which is hard in practice.

Present a realistic “cost-benefit” analysis of your ideas-don’t just outline the benefits. Every organisation has limited resources, time, and energy. The acceptance of your idea may well mean the rejection of another idea that someone else believes is wonderful. Be prepared to have a realistic discussion of the costs of your idea.

3: Build engagement with the client

Many public sector clients need to demonstrate involvement of partners in strategy formulation – so look for ways help co-create, contribute, and communicate realistic solutions. Build solid, regular contact that will demonstrate you can help the client make sense of what they are aiming to do and you can build capabilities for new ways of working together. A key part of the influencing process involves the education of decision-makers. The effective influencer needs to be a very good listener .

You can help clients communicate on many different levels ranging from feasibility studies to vivid and crisp strategic solutions that are quickly understood through to more detailed road maps that support them in implementation. Peer-to-peer dialogues can be embedded in communication channels and can lead to stimulating thinking about making good strategic choices in different situations.

Where a strategic choice involves a change of strategic direction this can call for building entirely new capabilities – and you may be able to help here. Help your client evoke a feeling of confidence by assisting in partnerships founded on well-crafted capability building programmes. Changes in strategy will only come to life when employees and leaders alike are deeply engaged and motivated, because they find the strategic journey involving, exciting, important and personally challenging.

Top tip: Look for ways to help clients co-create solutions via exploiting your combined collective intelligence and past experience and communicate in an authentic and appreciative way with your peers within your clients’ organisations.

4: Closely align your commitments

You can help influence client choices through showing how you can successfully implement projects through aligned commitments. Commitments come in many shapes and forms. Clarifying and cascading strategic choices, presenting solutions, co -joined capacity building and engagement programmes and can all be viewed as steps towards mutual alignment of commitments.

Your clients’ management systems need to coordinate vertically within, but more importantly, they must enhance collaboration horizontally across units and with outside partners such as yours. The latter proves to be one of the more difficult aspects of implementation – aim to help them with this to realise mutual benefits.  Effective deliverers relate to the needs of their clients as purchasers, not to their own needs.

Strategic choice needs to balance a sense of firmness with openness to change at all times, requiring ongoing attention from the senior management rather than a ritualistic yearly process. How can you demonstrate ongoing value creation and capturing of insights and learning that can be shared with the client? Have you considered how you can help them make their resource allocation work in practice including across capital, assets, talent and time resources?

Top Tip: Design commitments and engagement structures that support ongoing alignment to, collaboration with, and adaptation to your clients strategic choices

5: Accelerate value delivery

Most clients’ simply do not have the right capabilities in place to realise the benefits anticipated by their strategy. Perhaps their strategic choices were high quality but never implemented because the vehicle for “accelerating value” in delivery is broken. The key is that you simply cannot separate strategy and implementation again if you are a delivery organisation you can help here – work with your client to demonstrate what is possible to accomplish in practice.

Project management capabilities must be built in the organisation to ensure a consistent approach to value delivery. Be careful that “best practice” truly is best practice. For example, for construction projects best practice means being able to select the appropriate development model to fit with the challenge use tools like prototyping, user insights and exchanges, and a range of change management techniques. It sounds easy just to launch a range of projects to accelerate value delivery. In practice, it is hard – use all the talent available across all organisations involved.

Top tip: constantly seeking out new ways of accelerating value delivery and make sure you jointly evaluate progress on the road towards implementing goals. Make this high on the agenda in both projects and daily operations of you and your client.

Bringing the principles together

The five guiding principles are based on our approach that there is no such thing as “silver bullet” impacting on clients choices as it involves a great deal of diligent, hard work. The principles are drawn from well-known management practices

The key is to consider the interdependencies across the issues collaboratively with your client and together design an integrated approach to strategic implementation. Last but not least, we must always remember to that people should be at the centre of making and implementing strategy choices.

Our hope is that by making a small investment in increasing your learning in relation to influencing people, you can make a large, positive difference for the future of your clients.