In the competitive world of business, bidding for new contract opportunities is a common practice to continue growing as a business.
To increase their chances of consistently winning contracts, bidders must develop an efficient and methodical process for developing their bid responses. One way a business can achieve this is by developing and maintaining a bid library where they can store reusable bid content which can be easily accessed and used for future bids.
In this article, we will explore the importance of bid libraries, how to set them up effectively and the key considerations for maintaining their relevance.
What is a bid library?
A bid library is a collection of material specifically curated to aid in the development of bid responses. It serves as a centralised repository for storing high-quality, well-written responses that address frequently asked questions in bids and tenders. Additionally, the bid library may contain other essential information and documents commonly required for bids. By consolidating these resources electronically, you can streamline your bidding process and ensure consistency in your responses.
The bid library can include various information such as basic company details, the business structure and a descriptive overview of the products/services provided. It is essential to store this information securely in a place where it can be accessed and referenced in bid responses. This helps save time in developing bid responses whilst ensuring all useful and relevant information is included.
Creating a bid library: key steps
When setting up a bid library, it is crucial to consider the key factors:
- Who will need to use it
- The purpose it will serve
- The ideal location for accessibility
- The tools to manage the library effectively
Another thing to consider is the various access levels based on user requirements. This is essential to ensure appropriate access to the bid library’s contents. For example, there may be company information that should only be accessed by senior members of the management team. In this case, access controls (e.g. passwords) can be useful in ensuring confidential/sensitive information is kept safe, and mitigating against any unwanted changes to the bid library content.
Deciding on a structure
When deciding on the structure of the bid library, you should consider the tools used to create and manage it. Furthermore, keeping the structure as simple as possible and maintaining consistency throughout is important to maximising functionality and practicality.
It is vital to choose a structure that others can easily understand and navigate. As the bid library is used, you can ask for regular feedback from users to help refine the structure and optimise its usability.
Prioritising content development
To maximise efficiency, it is advisable to prioritise the development of content within the bid library according to the primary needs of the business.
Categorising the content and identifying ‘quick wins’ (i.e. items that provide significant benefits with minimal effort) can help accelerate the process. Applying the 80-20 rule, focusing on the 20% of content that will yield 80% of the benefit can be a valuable approach. You should also consider which content will be used most frequently or required in the near future, prioritising these as appropriate.
At the planning stage, it is important to identify all relevant sources of information for the bid library. Categorising the content will help determine the owners of each section.
Whilst subject matter experts (SMEs) play a critical role in developing the content, other sources such as previous bid submissions and marketing materials can also provide valuable content which can be amended and reused for future bids.
Having a plan
Creating a bid library can be a long, complex process that requires careful planning. Thus, it is beneficial to clearly define the owners, tasks and responsibilities associated with developing and maintaining the library at an early stage.
When creating a plan, you should also confirm the availability of necessary resources and SMEs as these will be critical in developing a comprehensive and accurate library. It is crucial to follow the plan, monitor progress and make adjustments as needed.
Using templates and standardised formatting
To ensure consistency and a professional appearance, using templates and agreeing on formatting standards is generally a good idea.
It is important to establish a consistent look and feel from the outset as changing formatting later can be time-consuming and frustrating! Templates can help maintain a unified structure and streamline the review and sign-off process.
Maintaining relevance and keeping the bid library updated
It is important to acknowledge that the information stored in a bid library is simply a snapshot in time and does not remain valid indefinitely. Different types of information will have different validity terms (i.e. some are relevant for longer periods of time). When creating content, it is important to note the date of its creation and any known expiry dates or timeframes (e.g. for certificates, policies).
To prevent the bid library’s content from becoming obsolete and unreliable, it is essential to establish a plan for maintaining and updating it regularly. Each piece of content should have a designated owner responsible for maintaining it. Collaborating with owners and SMEs on a rolling basis (e.g. quarterly or semi-annually) can help ensure the library remains relevant.
Furthermore, you should try to gather valuable feedback for improving and updating the bid library. Writers and reviewers involved in the bid creation process, as well as clients who provide post-decision feedback, can offer valuable insights into how you may able to optimise the structure, content or processes associated with your bid library.
A well-structured and regularly updated bid library can help significantly in streamlining the bidding process for your business. By developing and maintaining a bid library, you can leverage existing high-quality content, maintain consistency in your responses and save time and effort throughout the entire bid process.
It is important to carefully plan the setup of the bid library, prioritise content development and establish processes for keeping it up to date and incorporating any relevant feedback. With a comprehensive bid library in place, you can enhance your competitiveness and increase your chances of securing lucrative contracts.
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