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Got a plan? Your strategy for bidding for contracts

2016 and 2017 sees many public service spin-outs face the prospect of re-tendering for their core contracts. To mark this milestone, we are publishing a series of articles on bid writing and business development. Read the second in the series below.

See an opportunity. Write a bid. It’s easy – isn’t it?

It is all too easy to approach bid writing in autopilot, and not spend enough time sitting back and thinking. Working like this may seem the best course of action at the time but it is a recipe for wasted hours, frustration and let-downs. Don’t let this be you. To help you out, here’s our top tips for a winning bid writing strategy.

Pick your battles. There is no point bidding for everything that comes out. The critical questions are: does this fit our mission, can we resource it, and have we got the skills to deliver? If you think the answer to any of these questions is ‘no’ then so will the commissioner.

Be organised and assemble a team. Too many organisations approach bid writing in a haphazard and disorganised way. You need the right people with the right skills from across your organisation, and you need to set yourself a timetable for delivering. Sit down and agree your approach, making sure everyone understands what you are proposing and what their job is. Without this, your bid will look disjointed. You also need someone in charge: writing bids by committee doesn’t work.

Get to the commissioner. Find out as much as you can about the opportunity. The best way to do this is always to speak directly to the commissioner. Even the most straight-laced public official may give away some hint that will help you shape your decisions and that you can use to your advantage. But if you can’t speak to them directly, leave a message. Getting in touch displays interest and puts you in the hunt.

Find a critical friend to read your bid. No matter how good you think your bid is, everyone can benefit from a fresh pair of eyes. Find someone who can give you honest feedback and be open to what they say.

Keep reviewing your position. Hopefully you will have identified the right course of action from at the outset. But if it is going badly or you learn something that scuppers your chances, don’t be afraid to pull out during the process. Your time is precious and submitting a substandard bid, or a bid that you can’t deliver, is far worse than not submitting anything at all.

None of these points are earth-shattering but they can be easy to forget in the panic to get proposals out of the door. So when it comes to your next bid, make sure that strategy is at the forefront of your mind.

 

For more articles in this series click here.

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