Working in the bidding industry is a rather curious affair. Up until relatively recently, bidding and tendering was never historically viewed as a specialism in its own right, with the vast majority of current professionals falling into bid roles from other professions. Without any industry defined career paths or skills development plans, this has regrettably contributed to a twin effect of creating a dearth in graduate level talent and bid professionals missing out on opportunities and experiences they need for future success.
However, despite the past decade seeing changes in corporate understanding of the bidding profession (with some organisations actively building up their bid teams and even branching out to hire dedicated specialist roles) many professionals remain static and are unaware of how to progress in their careers. So what if you are a graduate looking to come into the industry or a current bid professional passionate about developing your skillset? Look no further than joining APMP (The Association of Proposal Management Professionals).
APMP – a bid professional network, working to benefit its members
Headquartered in the USA, APMP is the only professional membership body in the world dedicated to helping and developing people that work in bidding and tendering. Despite being headquartered overseas, it is a truly international organisation and has a local UK chapter of like-minded professionals, providing the necessary opportunities, resources and skills development needed to succeed in the industry. APMP has heavily supported the bid community since its inception over 30 years ago and aims to develop a stronger pipeline for bringing graduates into the profession – being the perfect vehicle for those wanting to get into or progress in the bidding world.
Membership and benefits
Basic annual membership packages are currently priced at $160 for individuals, $25 for students, $80 for retirees and also include corporate membership packages for groups / organisations. For this price, members are able to obtain a wealth of benefits including:
• invitations to local or national (virtual and physical) events – providing excellent networking opportunities with prospective employers and other bid professionals
Events are usually hosted in the mornings and evenings around the working day
• participation in the APMP Annual Conference,
• participation in the APMP Annual Awards process – with the ability to nominate and receive nominations for various bidding awards during the year
• access to the APMP Body of Knowledge – a collective wealth of knowledge in the APMP membership for bidding best practice
• access to webinars and publications – with expert views on bidding best practice and latest trends in the industry
• access to study guides, mock exams and learning materials – helping members to achieve certification (as will be explained later on),
• a job bank and communities forums – for jobseekers and those wishing to ask specific questions that relate to bidding and tendering.
Uniquely, APMP also offers professional certification – providing bid professionals with external recognition as being experts in their field. Such accreditation is certainly useful when interacting with subject matter experts and other professions who may have little to no experience of what is required to put together a bid! By gaining certification, bid professionals can demonstrate their quantified knowledge of the profession and have the confidence / necessary skills to positively deliver a bid.
APMP offers three levels of certification:
• Foundation level: This comprises on an entry level 1 hour exam costing $400 and is aimed at professionals with a minimum of 18 months bidding experience. Foundation level certification is seen as an entry level benchmarking exercise to ensure individuals understand the basics of bidding and the various concepts involved. Students will be expected to self-study and use the relevant educational resources available on the APMP website to complete the course.
• Practitioner level: Aimed at professionals with 3-5 years’ work experience, this certification assesses the knowledge and skills demonstrating proficiency in proposal and bid management. Students will be assessed in a 2.5 hour exam, and answer scenario based questions designed to test knowledge of bidding best practice. The cost of the exam is $400.
• Professional: Aimed at senior professionals in the industry (with a minimum of 7 years of bidding experience), this certification builds on the level practitioner level by asking for individuals to demonstrate significant impact in the industry. Entrants must document and present evidence to a panel of assessors via an interview, demonstrating superior leadership, engagement and management skills in a working environment. The certification costs $850.
There is a range of APMP Approved Training Organisations (ATOs) who can help you with achieving the certification. These can be found at:
Keeping abreast of latest trends
APMP provides ample opportunity for bid professionals to stay ahead of the curve and get the most of their skillsets by networking with industry professionals and interacting in various forums available online.
Recent discussions have highlighted how automation and the changing nature of remote working may have profound impacts on the profession. Process and repetitive roles are vulnerable to advances in automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning – so it’s important to widen your skillset as lower level process jobs may no longer be needed in the future.
Furthermore, the pandemic has been a catalyst for great change and with work moving increasingly online, technically, roles can be delivered from anywhere in the world. Increased competition and lower costs from overseas workers will also put pressure on UK-based bid professionals conducting repetitive roles – so it is important that workers develop their careers and continually update their skillset.