Bid process

The intriguing case of the case study

How often are you asked to include case studies and experience examples in bids? The likelihood is that we’re asked for some variation of such experience in almost every bid. They are important pieces of the bid response puzzle because, as the APMP Body of Knowledge (BOK) says:

“You wouldn’t put much trust in a surgeon who had never performed the operation you needed, nor one who had made multiple attempts and failed at each. Similarly, customers prefer organizations that can demonstrate both experience that is relevant to the management and technical work they need done (relevant experience) and a track record of success (past performance).”

APMP Body of Knowledge

In last year’s blog, we talked about the different ways in which you can effectively file such experience – within dedicated subject folders, or perhaps using defined file name and/or tag words in a larger database. But how do you create your past performance library in the first place? And more importantly, how do you keep it up to date and add new or differently focused examples, so you aren’t having to scramble for the most relevant example at the last minute?

Andy Dwyer’s approach to work – no idea what he’s doing, but he’s doing it really well

We all know those public sector bids that ask for contract examples within the last three years, and that really is best practice. Does a case study or experience example from 10 years ago hold the same weight?

Of course, the easiest way is to copy down any case studies and examples used after each bid – easy, but not always quick! If you have them saved already, you will need to check if you’d made any updates and if so, save this new version down. At one organisation, we saved different versions of the same client / case study in one document, but with headings so you knew what was slightly different in each. For example, anonymised, short-form, long-form, employment-focused, real estate focused and so on. It probably won’t come as a surprise that this was the organisation from our previous blog where we used tags in the file names!

But again, this assumes we already have the case studies and examples written – what if you are starting from scratch? Focusing specifically on the more detailed case studies now, rather than the few-line experience examples, my best practice brain means I am a big fan of the humble template. Not only will this give helpful prompts those drafting the case study, it will (usually!) ensure you have covered all the various options clients will ask for – although bear in mind you may still need to tailor headings and content to be compliant with the client’s requirements. Key headings/information may include:

  • Client name
  • Contract/project title/description, location, dates, and value
  • Client contact name, title, telephone number and email (you may also want to note whether you have ongoing permission to use this contact and case study, or whether you need to request permission each time)
  • Brief summary of the contract/project
  • Your role
  • Challenges / issues encountered
  • Results e.g. was the aim of the project to improve performance, and over the course of the project, your role achieved an uplift in customer satisfaction of 20 percentage points?
  • Quantifiable benefits achieved for the client
  • Awards/nominations related to the work
  • Client testimonials

So now we know what to include, but when do you draft or request new case studies? To try and get ahead of the game, why not implement a process whereby each time a project or contract completes, the responsible project manager or account manager completes the case study template as part of the close-out? Or for longer, strategic contracts which may be in place for several years, you could include this activity as part of the client annual review process, meaning it is guaranteed to be updated annually (as a minimum).

Obviously even with the best intentions, we cannot cover off all clients’ scopes and requirements and so we often end up creating new case studies (or amending existing ones) during the bid. If that is the case, provide the template and supporting guidance to the person (or people) with responsibility for drafting, and set a deadline that is both realistic for them to revert by, but also allows enough time for review, potential redraft/amends ahead of the bid final review.

Either way, preparation will save you a considerable amount of time the next time you’re asked for a similar case study.

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