Organisations that have a track record of delivering winning bids usually do not wait until the PQQ or tender first appears to start their work on a bid.
In public sector bidding, it is good to check if the client has issued a Prior Information Notice (PIN). This will contain some useful information and a contact for further questions. It is well worth calling this contact to seek some further information and express your interest in the opportunity.
What steps can you take to get ahead of the game?
Step 1: If the buyer runs a Soft Market Testing Exercise, make sure you participate in this. This may give you the opportunity to meet the client or at least create sufficient interest in your product or service.
Step 2: Find out if there will be scope for Variant Bids – These may be where you can produce innovative proposals that will work better for both the client and you.
Step 3: Ask yourself the following:
- Does anyone within your organisation (or network) have a contact with the client that they could introduce you to?
- For public contracts, what information is already in the public domain e.g. when was the previous contract awarded? For how long? Who is the incumbent contractor? How are they performing? Are there any published reports (e.g. Committee Papers) that provide background information on this contract / tender process?
- Who will the key decision makers be for the new contract? Are there any events coming up that you might be able to hear them speak at, or meet them?
- What will the new contract be for? Don’t assume the client will be looking for exactly the same service as is delivered currently!
- What will the client’s main drivers / hot buttons be, e.g. have they stated publicly that they need to save 10% across their business? If so, this provides clear evidence that cost efficiency and value for money will be hot buttons for them.
Step 4: Plan, Plan, Plan! For significant opportunities, you can also now begin Capture Planning which can include:
- Production of Client and Competitor Intelligence Reports – these will help to inform your win strategy and shape your competitive offer, through the identification of USPs and differentiators
- Taking steps to help ensure that your current contracts will provide good references
- If the bid timetable is known, ensuring that key staff will be available during this period to work on the bid
- Starting to develop your solution architecture – what will your proposed product or service look like?
- Considering innovation, e.g. how will your solution provide them with benefits that others cannot offer them and how will it develop during the lifetime of the contract?
Early planning is often the key to tender success. The limited timeframe available during a tender process, along with detailed response requirements, typically does not allow for sufficient time to strategise and develop innovative solutions. Wherever possible, this should be done well in advance of a tender or RFP being published, allowing you to focus on the bid – rather than the solution – during the tender timeline.
In the busy world of delivering on existing contracts, there often does not seem to be time to spend on this vital pre-tender activity, but finding the time can – and does – make all the difference to your bid success.