If you were going to build a house, it would all start with the plans, then getting the foundations right. The same applies to bidding successfully. Time invested in the Bid Kick Off Meeting will reap many rewards during the bid process. Having the key people there will help get the project off to a great start.
The main objectives of the Bid Kick Off Meeting are to:
(1) agree the win themes and customer value propositions
(2) develop the solution i.e. the bid is in a response to a client problem or need
(3) agree roles, responsibilities and timelines
So, given the objectives, who are the key people to have there?
Bid Manager – The Bid Manager is the glue that will bind the Bid Team together, acting as the key point of contact for both the bid team and the client throughout the bid process. An effective Bid Manager will also facilitate an effective Bid Kick Off Meeting by ensuring those attending have the necessary information and clarity around expectations for the meeting.
Project Sponsor – Having the senior decision maker present at the outset helps to reinforce the importance of the bid. This person will also make an effective contribution, including helping to get executive approval for both the solution and the commercials.
Business Development / Sales lead – Hopefully this is a bid where there is some existing client relationship or intelligence. The BD lead should also know something about the external market and your competitor offerings.
Technical Specialists / Subject Matter Experts – These are the people who will dissect the client specification and then explain how you have the product or service that meets the needs.
Operations lead – Since this person will lead on the delivery of the successful bid, their early involvement is key around the deliverability of the solution. They will bring experience to the table of what works, what doesn’t and the art of the possible.
Commercial / Finance lead – It is important that the pricing is not done in a vacuum or silo. Effective pricing comes from a thorough understanding of the opportunity as well as the reasons why the bid is strategically important.
For large or complex bids, some other disciplines may also need to be represented e.g. Legal, HR (especially if there are significant TUPE implications) and Marketing (where support may be required around graphics, images and bid production).
Some other tips to running an effective Bid Kick Off Meeting include:
1. Having a timed Agenda (some flexibility needed here) – this should contain adequate breaks to allow participants to make urgent calls / check e-mails
2. Agreeing that everyone will be fully ‘present’ during the meeting – no mobile phones or reading e-mails on devices e.g. laptops
3. Agreeing how the Bid Team will meet throughout the bid process i.e. are further face-to-face meetings needed? or will tele-conferences work for the group?
4. Sending written confirmation of the agreed roles, responsibilities and timelines immediately after the meeting
For smaller companies, it may be that one person performs several of the roles mentioned earlier. The important thing is that these disciplines are part of the Kick Off stage.
There can be clear benefits to bringing in an external bid specialist to facilitate the Bid Kick Off Meeting. This can also work well in consortium bidding situations.