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.

Leave a Reply