How to Prepare for a Bid

If you’re expecting a bid or tender to be released soon, you might be inclined to wait for it to arrive before you start committing time and resources to it.  However, there are a few things that you should do ahead of time, to increase your prospects of success:

Understand the buying organisation. Browse their website for useful sources, including annual reports or details of their procurement strategies; these can highlight their current objectives, such as an appetite to drive down costs or a desire to increase their social capital.

Web searches and news feeds can help you to keep abreast of the latest developments within the target organisation and could also help unearth any past issues that might be relevant. In the public sector you might also find the minutes of committee meetings available, which could include details of the current contract, expected KPIs and more detailed budget information than the tender pack will provide.

You can also register for other procurements that the buyer is currently running, to get an idea of their likely qualification criteria. You will want to understand for example their thresholds for certification, insurance and turnover.

Get to know decision-makers and others within the buyer organisation. Research their professional interests and perhaps attend industry events where you know they will be present. Engage with their Social Media activity and make sure that you attend any ‘meet the buyer days’ or briefing events, whether they are convened physically or virtually.

Be sure to involve yourselves in any soft market testing or other opportunities to share views or potential solutions with those responsible for the procurement. If your ideas are compelling enough they could shape the tender in your favour, before it even comes to market.

Find out about the competition. Who are the other businesses who will be likely to be competing for the contract, and how do you measure up against them? Is there an incumbent supplier, and how well have they been performing?  If there is time, you could consider discreetly arranging to lodge a Freedom of Information Act request, which might provide specific contractual terms and maybe even copies of the winning bids from the last time the contract was up for tender.

Make yourselves bid-ready. Based on your market intelligence, especially any specific timing details from any the Prior Information Notice (PIN), warn likely participants within your organisation when  they will be needed. Carry out outline planning in as much detail as possible. Identify the specialisms and capacity of the people you need to support the bid, as well as any external experts, potential partners or sub-contractors that you might need to bring in. Give them all plenty of notice, so they can make provision for the work required and act as additional sources of intelligence or promotion before the bid begins.

Stay attentive to all news and developments that are relevant to the buyer and their need. This could range from international politics to weather patterns; global to local legislation changes and sector-specific innovations in processes or technology.

Instill a culture of preparedness for bidding. Educate all employees to grasp the significance of bidding for and winning work and to appreciate how their enthusiasm, contacts and insights help everyone to succeed. Make it easy for them to share their findings with the Bid Managers.

Keep yourself visible, credible and relevant. Nurture personal and organisational reputations by actively involving yourselves in the sector. There will be various organisations or initiatives which allow you to demonstrate your commitment to, and expertise in, your industry. Perhaps as a member of a trade body? Or through collaborating with peers to develop industry standards?

Raise the profile of the leaders within your organisation and ensure that they are visible and well regarded within your sector. COVID-19 has galvanised strategic and operational change in so many sectors, so have a strong story to tell about how well you have responded to it. Being seen to have a view worth listening to will serve you well when it comes to raising your company’s profile.