To Create a Better Bid … Put Yourself in Their Shoes!

You’re spending a lot of time and putting considerable thought into that significant, personalised bid. You’ve honed in on your USP, what only you can offer that others can’t, and you’re thinking about how to articulate it.

Before you put pen to paper, stop!  Research into evaluation panels for bids suggests that there are 5.4 people on an average panel. Who are they?  Think about this, then write so that your bid answers the questions and resonates with panel members. This simple tip will increase your chance of success.

For example, if you’re responding to a housing association maintenance contract, what might the tender evaluation panel professional make-up be, and what will they look for? Put yourself in their shoes; what would you want to see? The kinds of people who may be involved would include:

  1. The Procurement Specialist. S/he will be looking for a proper, robust process, that the bid is compliant, represents good value for money, and has a clear audit trail in case of a challenge. The Procurement lead may co-ordinate the process and also be involved in scoring bids as part of the panel. They will want to reduce any risks in making an appointment.
  2. The Asset Management Specialist. The focus of the Asset Management representative will be to look for competence in delivery and that you will work to their standards and specifications. They will want to see you provide services specifically for their tenants, not just how you usually deliver services. The specialist will test the bidders’ ability to integrate with any IT systems if specified in the tender documents (there may even be an IT Specialist on the evaluation panel as well).
  3. The Health and Safety Specialist. The H&S lead’s role will be to focus on specific health and safety arrangements to protect residents, staff and sub-contractors delivering the maintenance works, and the local community.
  4. The Housing Management Specialist. Housing management experts will be looking for specific, tailored approaches to deliver customer-focused services to their customers in their homes. They will also be interested to know how you will communicate with customers and association staff. The specialist will look at how you engage with the local community and what tangible social value you will bring. They will want to know what welfare arrangements you have put in place for your staff, and would look for evidence of previous customer surveys and satisfaction results.
  5. The Finance Specialist. The finance representative will be responsible for the commercial section scoring, checking pricing, due diligence checks, adequate insurance, robust risk management and other arrangements. They may also be part of the wider evaluation panel, ensuring that the association takes the most economically advantageous tender that offers added-value (in line with the tender documentation), not just the lowest price.
  6. The Legal Specialist. Compliance checks, the company’s ability to meet the legislative and contractual requirements, and any risk in appointing specific contractors would be within the remit of a legal representative on the panel.
  7. The HR Specialist. May be included on the panel, especially if a TUPE transfer is involved, when they would look for previous experience. The specialist would generally want to make sure that you treat employees fairly and have fair working practices.
  8. The Resident Representative. Residents may sit on the evaluation panel, be part of the interviews, or give feedback on tender submissions. They will be interested in who is maintaining customers’ homes and whether they have been DBS checked. They will also want to know, will they tidy up, have good customer care skills, access to welfare facilities, and wear an ID badge?
  9. The Consultant. Some clients outsource the preparation of their tender documents and parts of the evaluation process to external consultants. They may have a wide sectoral view and should have a lot of experiences of similar processes elsewhere in the market. They will expect to see high quality solutions with appropriate social value, added value and innovation offerings.

Once you’ve decided who might be on the panel, you can write your response, confident that you will resonate with what they feel is essential.

The panel will want to see that you have personalised the bid. So, show you’ve thought about the association’s customers, properties, the areas they work in, and any challenges in delivering these services. Set out how you are proposing to deal with this. Resonating with those making the buying decision is vital!

How will the bid be evaluated? It may be salami-sliced with different sections going to the appropriate specialist, or all the panel might see the full document separately allocating scores then meet to moderate these. If it’s salami-sliced, you want to give evidence against their evaluation criteria to enable the panel to articulate why you should get a high mark for your response to a question.

Review the bid before it goes in. Put together a ‘review panel’ made up of company staff and an independent bid specialist who will put themselves in the panel’s shoes and give feedback.

You’ve successfully got through the first stage! Now onto the panel interview.  Prepare by asking who the panel members will be and their roles. Set up a mock panel acting ‘in their shoes’ and rehearse to see how you come across; include an independent bid specialist for an impartial view and some coaching. Tweak until you are hitting the right notes, and go into the interview well prepared and confident.