Once you’ve made the ‘Go’ decision to embark on a bid, it can be tempting to get started on it straight away. If you are part of an organisation that is used to bidding for business, waiting for an official kick-off date can feel frustrating.

This is understandable, but not advisable. A well-planned kick-off meeting can be a catalyst that mobilises your team, focuses your efforts and gets your bid off to a successful start.

Holding your Kick-Off Meeting – why Timing is critical

The Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP) recommends that your kick-off meeting takes place around 15% into the duration of the bid. If you have a 4-week window to work on your submission, then the kick-off should come on day 3 or 4 of your 20-day timeline. This is because there is a lot of work to do before your bid gets up and running.

What to Tick Off before the Kick-Off

Before the Bid team gets together, the Bid Manager will:

  • Review all the Tender documentation and understand exactly what is involved
  • Talk to the Business Development and Sales teams to understand what they already know about the buyer through Capture Planning, existing relationships etc.
  • Put together a summary of the opportunity to share with the team
  • Prepare an outline of what the proposal will contain and a ‘road map’ showing where you’re going and how you might get there
  • Invite the right people to the meeting, including senior people who might be sponsoring the bid and external suppliers or sub-contractors, if appropriate
  • Collate all documents and background information needed to brief the Bid Writers, such as a glossary of terms or style guide.

Allowing Enough Time
It’s wise to allow 2-4 hours to cover everything, but some kick-offs have been known to last for several days. For a detailed bid with a long delivery window, this is not unusual.

Who is Needed

  1. The Bid Manager, who will plan and lead the meeting
  2. A senior Sponsor within the organisation. Their attendance is key, even if they are only there at the start of the meeting, to show support for the bid and commitment to resourcing it
  3. The core team who will be working on the opportunity, including Bid or Proposal writers, Bid Executives and Bid Support staff
  4. Senior Operational Leads from within the business, upon whom delivery of the contract will depend
  5. Commercial and Finance specialists who will be responsible for pricing the deal
  6. Legal colleagues – particularly if there are a lot of Clarification Question going back and forth
  7. An external Bid Specialist if you choose to use one, to provide input, make sure things are on the right track, fill any knowledge gaps and raise things that might be missed.

Kick-Off Challenges
The key challenge for a Bid Manager is to design an interesting kick-off meeting that is exciting, thought provoking and encourages robust and honest discussion.

The meeting would typically be held face-to-face. If that is not possible, then a well-planned virtual kick-off can also be effective. In these cases the Bid Manager must make sure that the everyone is fully engaged at all times, and giving the meeting the attention it deserves.

Kick-Off Deliverables
A successful kick-off meeting should provide you with the following:

  • An Opportunity overview – from the people who own the client relationship. This should include industry insight, competitor intelligence and a view on why this is a opportunity that merits your involvement
  • A set of USPs – highlighting the factors that differentiate your bid from the competitors
  • Agreed ‘Win Themes’ for your proposal – not just why you’re bidding and what is needed to win, but how you are going to articulate the benefits you deliver
  • A unifying Bid direction – crystalising the vision for the bid and ensuring that everyone is ‘on the same page’
  • A log of potential risks, issues and actions
  • A Tactical Plan – for the clarification questions that you want to put to the buyer
  • A brief for the Bid Writer including details such as word limits and format restrictions
  • An initial list of Clarification questions driven out by the meeting
  • Agreed Milestones, Deadlines and Decision Gates and an idea of any pressure points.

Finally, the most important take-away from the kick-off – a shared sense of ownership and a strong belief that the bid can be won if everyone works together as a team.

AM Bid are leading bidding and tender specialists and support a range of clients across the UK, Ireland and Europe. For help with your bid and tender writing and bid support needs, please contact us at:

t. 0800 043 0495                  e. info@ambid.co.uk