Managing Internal Lessons Learned During Bid Processes

Managing internal operations is critical in keeping synergy within a team involved in the bidding process.

How can a bidding team improve its process?

Have you relied purely on the subject matter experts and ignored a period of time for feedback and learning opportunities? It is crucial that time for feedback is scheduled, as neglecting this may result in repetition of the same errors.

For a team to prosper, it requires an environment which it can thrive in – a culture which will cultivate learning and place emphasis on continuous improvement. Avoid a blame culture, this will hinder progress and result in people not highlighting areas for improvement. A desirable culture is when everyone in the team is engaged and can openly admit areas of weakness – with transparency and honesty key to successful practices. Focus on creating a culture that is outward looking and avoiding comments such as “That’s how things have always been done”. Barefoot leadership will create a chain effect of team members taking responsibilities for what could be done differently the next time.

When should ‘lessons learned’ practices be implemented?

If a lesson is learned during the bidding process, there should be a desire to implement it prior to the submission. On bids that require more resource, allocate necessary time for feedback and implement lessons learned indefinitely. Those involved in the bidding process should be actively involved in feedback sessions of a bid. Create an open environment, which allows individuals to share vital feedback with colleagues – this can be implemented in future bids.

What is involved in the checklist for meetings?

Preparation is key. Finding out information about clients can help with the smooth running of a meeting. Individuals should research the buyer’s current needs and situation – this may highlight why the bidding opportunity arose, who is working with them and who are the bidder’s most significant competitors. Other research should include price points and pre-sales activities. A bid matrix tool can also be useful as this allows bidders to identify whether the opportunity is a good fit. This can be implemented during meetings to discuss whether or not this decision was made accurately.

Bid Phase

During this phase there needs to be a strong bid kick off meeting, followed by further sessions to ensure the bid process is running smoothly. This will highlight if there was sufficient time to have a meeting to review the bid prior to submission. Was the bid window used effectively? Was the bid kicked off after 15% of the time or 50%? Ideally all correct tools should be implemented with minimal delays – this will allow subject matter experts to provide vital details timeously. One could also use resources from previous bids or, are there resources from the bid library that you could repurpose and use for your current bid? If necessary, you could bring in competent external bid specialists who provide good value with bid writing and bid management. Doing so could ease pressure on the organisation and allow the opportunity to bid for more contracts. However, the priority is to avoid as many issues as possible and if an issue does arise provide effective feedback sessions to ensure it does not happen again.

Internal Lessons

After a bid, it is important to reflect on what things worked well for the organisation. Was a new technique or tool trialled during the bid process and how well did it perform? Areas for improvement – what worked well and needs to be shared within the organisation to make sure this practise is used again. Conversely, what didn’t work as well so that a similar practise isn’t used again?

Confidence Factor

How confident is the organisation prior to the submission of the bid? Factors that will increase confidence are how well known the client is to them, market intelligence and the price point. The eradication of errors allows for better value. How many bids are lost when confidence factor is high? If this is high, then a solution needs to be addressed for bids where the confidence factor was high, and the bid failed.

Client Lessons Learned

On the flip side is the client feedback provided. Within the public sector organisations will be provided a percentage score against competitors’ bids – including the winning bid. Furthermore, you will be able to access details of the winning bid and how it differentiated from the organisation’s own bid. It is good practice to compare what is learnt from client lessons with the organisation’s own internal lessons and observe if there is any congruence.

Overall, it is important that senior colleagues attend internal lessons meetings and know what is going on at them. It is of utmost importance that lessons taken away from these meetings are mainstreamed within the organisation and actioned throughout.