Organisations that have a track record of delivering winning bids usually do not wait to start their work on a bid until the PQQ or tender first appears.
Has the client issued a Prior Information Notice (PIN)? This will contain some useful information and possibly a contact for further questions. It is well worth calling this contact to seek some further information and express your interest in the opportunity.
What steps can you take to get ahead of the game?
Step 1: Conduct a Soft Market Testing Exercise, this may give you the opportunity to meet the client or at least create sufficient interest in your product or service.
Step 2: Find out if there will be scope for variant bids – these may be where you can produce innovative proposals that will work better for both the client and yourself.
Step 3: Ask yourself the following:
• Does anyone within your organisation (or network) have a contact with the client that they could introduce you to?
• What information is already in the public domain e.g. when was the previous contract awarded? For how long? Who is the incumbent contractor? How are they performing? Are there any published reports (e.g. committee papers) that provide background information on this contract / tender process?
• Who will the key decision makers be for the new contract? Are there any events coming up that you might be able to hear them speak at / even meet them?
• What will the new contract be for – don’t assume the client will be looking for exactly the same service delivered as currently!
• What will the client’s main drivers / hot buttons be e.g. have they stated publicly that they need to save 10% across all contracts? If so, that will give you a big starter for ten.
Step 4: Plan, Plan, Plan!
For significant opportunities, you can also now begin bid planning which can include:
• Production of Client and Competitor Intelligence Reports – these should be as specific as possible to help your bid to look and feel both original and bespoke
• Taking steps to help ensure that your current contracts will provide good references
• If the tender timetable is known, ensuring that key staff will be available during this period to work on the bid
• Starting to give some thought to what your solution is likely to comprise
• Considering what your Innovation might be e.g. for contracts of three years or more, clients will want to know how the products or service may develop during the lifetime of the contract
The above early planning can be key to tender success. The limited timeframe for the tender process, along with the detailed response requirements (review of contract, pricing and quality), may not allow for sufficient thinking time to develop the best solution. Ensure you dedicate enough resource to the early stages, whether this is internal or external, as it will increase your chances of winning the bid.