When composing responses to bids, how much thought do you give to those who will be marking the bid? How much do they matter … you just need to answer the questions, right? Let’s take an imaginary Facilities Management contract for a Housing Association …
- How many will be on the evaluation panel?
This can vary considerably from small panels of 3 people to larger ones of 6-10, sometimes even more.
- Who is on the evaluation panel?
There will be a range of disciplines represented e.g. Procurement; Asset Management; Housing Management; Housing Strategy; Health & Safety; Finance; possibly Legal & Human Resources. Other stakeholders likely to be represented are Board Members and Tenant / Resident representatives.
- How should the panel figure in your written responses?
Your bid needs to speak to the different stakeholders on the panel. For example, an overly specialist, technical response full of industry jargon will alienate the many non-technical members of the panel. Think about how your answers will play out to individual panel members e.g. does your response describe the value for money and cost effectiveness/efficiencies you will bring … this will go down well with markers from Finance and Procurement backgrounds. If there are TUPE implications with the bid, Legal and HR staff will be interested to see how you will deal with these in a legally compliant and employee-centred way.
- What are service user panel members looking for?
They tend to be very focused on the actual delivery of services and especially the customer journey / customer experience. They are exercised by operatives displaying clear forms of ID and treating resident their homes with respect. Service users will want to know how you deal with complaints and importantly, how you learn from them. Innovative ways of involving tenants in providing feedback on services will go down well e.g. opening yourselves up to tenant scrutiny.
- What other key considerations are there?
Risk management is an ever-present. Would appointing your organisation be a risk for the client; or conversely would you be de-risking them? How will your IT systems integrate with the client’s Asset Management system? In other words, can you achieve a smooth transition / mobilisation, or will there be a lot of extra work client side? What is your reputation like / Have you worked with the client before? Although this shouldn’t have much to do with the current opportunity, the reality is that it can weigh heavily on the evaluators’ minds.
- Do all the evaluators carry equal weight?
Possibly – especially when marking bids individually. However, the evaluators typically come together for a moderation meeting, when they discuss how and why they have scored the responses. This is when hierarchy, a strong personality, or a persuasive argument can come into play. In some organisations, Procurement is in the driving seat; in others, Procurement plays a supporting role, merely ensuring a legally compliant process.
- So what does all this mean?
It means that you need to put an evaluator’s hat on when reviewing your bid prior to submission. Give thought to how the responses will go down with specific members of the evaluation panel e.g. Procurement, Strategy, Finance, Legal, etc. Be very careful with jargon / acronyms. Aim for a clear response, with good sign-posting, that makes for an interesting read.