Categories
Bid process

Talking to clients part 3: Debriefs

How often do you request* a debrief with the client after the procurement process has concluded? Rarely or never? Always, but on losses only? Or do you request a debrief every time, whether you have won or lost the contract?

If your answer isn’t the last option, you could well be missing out on important feedback on your tender, your team, your pricing and your approach in general. Without understanding why you won or lost an opportunity, how will your submissions improve? It really is that old adage of the definition of madness being doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Client debriefs are a real opportunity (whether on the telephone, video conference, or even emailing tailored questions) to understand what you did well or where you need to improve. Many bidders only request a debrief on losses, but they are equally important where you have won; you cannot and should not assume the client liked everything about your submission.

So the client has agreed to your request, now what should you be asking? Clearly there will be specifics from your submission, but some ideas are:

  • What were you were looking for from the procurement process? Did it achieve what you wanted?
  • What was your perception of us prior to the procurement? Did this change during the process?
  • How did our submission measure up generally against the other submissions?
  • What did we do well? What could we have improved on?
  • Was there anything in other bidders’ submissions that you particularly liked?
  • Do you feel we demonstrated our experience in your sector/market clearly and effectively?
  • Do you feel that we [have] proposed the right core team for you?
  • How important was pricing in your final decision? How did our pricing compare to other bidders?
  • How did we do in the presentation stage? Do you feel we brought the right team to speak with you? Do you have any comments on any member of the team?
  • How did you make the decision? What was the process? Who was involved?
  • What did other bidders offer in terms of added value services, or meeting your unwritten needs?
  • [If a win] Do you have any concerns about our ability to implement, or our relationship with you going forward?
  • [If a loss] Are you happy for us to stay in contact with you in relation to relevant mailings and event invites?

But don’t let the debrief process end there. File and save the debrief notes, and start coding the responses (e.g. strong team, evidenced qualifications, good use of technology, poor recruitment processes, lack of innovation), chart them, track the themes and share across your organisation with the relevant people. This can provide vital information to your organisation on where you need to focus future strategy and investment, and what you need to focus on as you onboard if you were successful, or tackle for the next go around.

How can you move on and develop a stronger relationship if you don’t know what to address?

All feedback, positive or negative, will help shape not only your next submission (and hopefully improve your success rates!) but also the future of your organisation, and your relationship with the client – whether you won or lost on this occasion. How can you move on and develop a stronger relationship if you don’t know what to address? Learn lessons, improve and share knowledge.

*For the purpose of this blog, we’re talking about the bidder requesting a debrief, not whether the client then agrees to provide one, and not the generic feedback letter you receive upon contract award.

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Bid process

Talking to clients part 2: Pitch presentations

Rory Gilmore, setting the presentation rules
https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/417357090468200087/

This week, we’re turning our attention to presentations during the pitch process. The importance of the presentation is confirmed by the APMP Body of Knowledge (BOK), which terms them “oral proposals”. Put simply, they are the opportunity to vocally prove, and evidence, what your written proposal described. As the BOK states, “The written proposal qualifies the selling organization, but the oral proposal may determine the winner.”

Although the team may be made up of highly intelligent people, they may not be experts in oral presentations

APMP Body of Knowledge

If the client has invited your firm to present, they already know, to some extent, you are capable of meeting their requirements. The purpose of the presentation is more likely to assess whether you are the right people for them. How do you gel as a team? What would you be like to work with? Who you choose to attend is therefore vital, and you should give real consideration to at least one of your team being someone who will be ‘on the ground’ with the client – not just the most senior / impressive people in your organisation. If you are including someone more junior or less experienced, consider using a coach to prepare them, and in fact the rest of the team. After all, as the BOK says “although the team may be made up of highly intelligent people, they may not be experts in oral presentations.”

Once you’ve decided on your attendees (within any team size restrictions imposed by the client of course), there are other housekeeping factors to consider:  

  • Client instructions – have you been provided with an agenda, or is it a free format? If the client has given you scope to shape the agenda, ensure you cover the main themes/sections of your submission, and the win themes to draw out.
  • Time limits – is there an overall time limit provided, or timings by agenda point? Does the overall time include Q&A?
  • Setting – is it in-person, or by video conference which has, for obvious reasons, become more prevalent over the past year. If the latter, ensure well ahead of time that the required software is downloaded and works, and you have at least one practice using this software if it is not your organisation’s native video conferencing product.
  • Client team – who will be involved from the client side? What do you know about them and their focus areas? Carry out research before your planning sessions so you can identify the key messages you should be hitting.

When you have considered all the above, in particular the running time and the agenda, thoughts should finally turn to the presentation content itself. Many organisations still see ‘presentation’ and immediately open up the PowerPoint template – but death by slides can be a very real and negative experience. If you are not asked to provide a slide deck, consider why you are still reaching for PowerPoint. Is it really to provide key information to the client, or simply to act as an aide memoire for your team? If you still choose to use slides, ensure they are concise and limited to key points and diagrams only – after all, you don’t want the client-side team reading the slides rather than listening to you.

Just like your proposal, carefully plan the content of your presentation and make sure everyone really knows your written submission. The BOK provides a really useful template to help with this, which doesn’t just focus on replaying the content from your written submission, but calls on you to State, Support and Summarise the key features and benefits of your solution for the client. Assign topics to the most appropriate team members, and ensure everyone gets to speak or the client will question why they are there.

Do not be afraid to add further sessions if required, and encourage all presenters to practice their content on their own

Then it’s rehearse and practice time. You should factor in at least three practice sessions ahead of the presentation date – one to discuss and run through the content at a high level, a second (timed) practice to present more formally and make adjustments to content against running times, and your final practice which should run as though you are in front of the client. Do not be afraid to add further sessions if required, and encourage all presenters to practice their content on their own as well in between sessions.

This planning should mean your team don’t need to rely on the slides to help them through, so consider a one-page placemat instead, which summarises the key points of your submission, your team and your organisation. This should use the same colour and imagery themes as your bid submission and should be handed out after the presentation, not before – else again you risk the client spending more time reading this than listening to you.

Finally, but by no means less important, most presentations include a question and answer session, for which you should be equally prepared. Consider the questions you’re likely to receive – by reviewing the client’s requirements and your submission, assessing the client’s market and sector, and gathering intelligence from within your organisation. Have other teams previously pitched to the same client for other services? Or to similar or even competitor organisations. A little bit of groundwork can often help you plan for the majority of questions you will be asked by the client. But your preparation shouldn’t end there:

  • Group the questions into themes, and divide them amongst the presentation team. Again, if someone is silent during the Q&A it may make the client query why you included them, or what they will actually bring to the relationship. But don’t just allocate for allocation’s sake. If you have the most appropriate attendees on your team, the questions should naturally fall between your presenters. For example, if your project manager is attending, they would naturally answer questions about the onboarding plan, overall project plan and budget. A head of contact centre would be able to answer any questions about the service delivery, recruitment and training, performance management and so on.
  • Practice answering questions more than once, using an independent interviewer who should act as the client, e.g. with little prior knowledge of you and your business.  
  • Build answers into your presentation for those questions you think are most likely. The less the client has to ask to reach their decision, the better!
  • Consider your worst case questions and ensure you have strong answers to these, including covering off any known issues you have; for example if you are the incumbent and performance has slipped recently, come armed with an action plan of how you’ll get the service back on track.

If you find you are regularly falling at the presentation hurdle, try something different. At one firm, we used a mock panel approach for strategically important bids, asking senior staff to sit as the client presentation team. We provided a synopsis of the written submission, and they asked any questions that had naturally come up for them from the synopsis and during the presentation. They then provided feedback on the content and team. We did this stage independent of the pitch team, and then fed back to them after – allowing the mock panel to be as honest as they needed, and provide truly objective feedback which allowed our team to refocus.

Above all, while it may seem like overkill if you know your subject: prepare, prepare, prepare. It could well be the difference between a win and a loss.

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Bid process

Talking to clients part 1: Scoping calls

When you receive an RFP, and are deciding whether to pursue it (or indeed, deciding whether to continue your pursuit, as you should already have a fairly good idea by this point unless it’s a cold bid), how often do you undertake a scoping call with the client?

Many firms assume once an opportunity is issued, the client is off-limits – however this is not always the case. Some clients offer scoping calls as part of the procurement (group and individual), and even if they don’t expressly mention in the RFP documents, you can ask. Worse case, the client says no. Best case, you learn key intelligence and insight that may not have been included in the papers.

So you have the scoping call agreed and diarised – but who should attend, and what should you ask?

The scoping call should involve those who will be heavily involved in the bid production and sign off

Unless the client restricts attendees to one person, you should aim for your bid manager and bid lead (e.g. sponsor, whoever will sign off the submission) to attend as a minimum. You may also find it useful to invite key subject matter expert(s) if the opportunity is technical in nature. At the basic level – the scoping call should involve those who will be heavily involved in the bid production and sign off, so that they fully understand what the client wants, and so can ensure your submission is persuasive and is written to win.

Once your attendees are decided, you should gather scoping questions from the bid team – not just the attendees. It should go without saying that you should not ask anything that is already set out in the documentation, unless it is unclear. Scoping calls are the chance to discuss the client’s unwritten needs or issues, and can give you those golden nuggets of intelligence that other bidders may not have. They can help frame your bid themes and value propositions, and your questions could cross the client’s business/sector, culture and requirements, their position on fees, and the performance of their current providers (if applicable). Of course, there is no guarantee that a client will answer everything you ask, but examples of key questions include:

  • Are any changes planned for your business? What impact will they have?
  • What plans do you have to increase your competitive position?
  • What do you feel are the current issues facing your business?
  • How does this project/service fit into your overall business plans?
  • What, in your opinion, does added value look like? 
  • Who are your current service providers? Why did you choose them? What do they do well, or what would you like to see them do differently?
  • How important are the project/service costs/fees for you? Is there anything that has caused you a problem with fees or billing in the past?
  • What would we need to do to convince you that we are right for you?

Scoping calls can provide an opportunity for you to ‘get into the weeds’ of a tender and the client’s unspoken needs, potentially giving you competitive advantage – all within the procurement rules. As long as you plan properly ahead of time to make the most of the opportunity, what have you got to lose?

The second part of our ‘Talking to clients’ series next week will address presentations within the procurement process. Contrary to popular belief, they’re not just about PowerPoint!

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Bid process

Bidonomy’s top blogs of 2020

We’re quite pleased that the word cloud we’ve created above, from all our published blogs, has team, client, process and content front and centre – quite rightly the factors that underpin every bid!

In terms of readership numbers, these were our top ten blogs of 2020…clearly, everyone’s as into (or frustrated by?!) linguistics as we are! Although also very proud to see the ode to Tommy Caldwell’s free climb up The Dawn Wall of Yosemite so high up the list – a personal favourite blog.

  1. Apostrophe Rage: or, how I learned to love the Oxford comma  
  2. The Redundant That
  3. To bid, or not to bid
  4. The Dawn Bid: Free climbing the bid process
  5. Setting up and managing an effective content library
  6. A brief history of bidding: Past, present and future
  7. Once Upon A Bid
  8. When is Best Practice not best practice?
  9. The Right Team, or the ‘Their Turn’ Team?   
  10. The Great Exec Summary Debate

When Bidonomy was set up in June 2020, we had no idea how well received the blogs would be. We’d like to thank everyone who took the time to read and engage with us, and who took part in several polls we ran on LinkedIn.

Happy New Year!

Categories
Bid process

The 12 Days of Bidmas

On the first day of Bidmas, my bid lead gave to me… a double G&T.

On the second day of Bidmas, my bid lead gave to me… two hours sleep, and a double G&T.

On the third day of Bidmas, my bid lead gave to me… three hard copies, two hours sleep, and a double G&T.

On the fourth day of Bidmas, my bid lead gave to me… four hundred pages, three hard copies, two hours sleep, and a double G&T.

On the fifth day of Bidmas, my bid lead gave to me… five val-ue adds. Four hundred pages, three hard copies, two hours sleep, and a double G&T.

On the sixth day of Bidmas, my bid lead gave to me… six clarifications, five val-ue adds. Four hundred pages, three hard copies, two hours sleep, and a double G&T.

On the seventh day of Bidmas, my bid lead gave to me… seven client examples, six clarifications, five val-ue adds. Four hundred pages, three hard copies, two hours sleep, and a double G&T.

On the eighth day of Bidmas, my bid lead gave to me… eight fee proposals, seven client examples, six clarifications, five val-ue adds. Four hundred pages, three hard copies, two hours sleep, and a double G&T.

On the ninth day of Bidmas, my bid lead gave to me… nine compliance questions, eight fee proposals, seven client examples, six clarifications, five val-ue adds. Four hundred pages, three hard copies, two hours sleep, and a double G&T.

On the tenth day of Bidmas, my bid lead gave to me… ten detailed bios, nine compliance questions, eight fee proposals, seven client examples, six clarifications, five val-ue adds. Four hundred pages, three hard copies, two hours sleep, and a double G&T.

On the eleventh day of Bidmas, my bid lead gave to me… eleven colour graphics, ten detailed bios, nine compliance questions, eight fee proposals, seven client examples, six clarifications, five val-ue adds. Four hundred pages, three hard copies, two hours sleep, and a double G&T.

On the twelfth day of Bidmas, my bid lead gave to me… twelve days till deadline, eleven colour graphics, ten detailed bios, nine compliance questions, eight fee proposals, seven client examples, six clarifications, five val-ue adds. Four hundred pages, three hard copies, two hours sleep, and a doub-le G-&-T!

Happy holidays everyone!

With additional thanks to Victoria Lee for her help in composition.

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Bid process

Bidding as the incumbent

How do you bid in a re-tender if you’re the incumbent? Do you take it is a given that you’ll retain the contract, as your firm’s been successful with the client? Do you assume the client knows a defined amount about your firm, and focus on anything that is new or you haven’t previously offered them? Or do you treat it as a new bid for a new client, not missing a beat in terms of research, preparation and what you can offer?

According to the APMP’s Body of Knowledge (BOK) “Complacency is the number-one reason incumbent contractors lose”; so your answer should be the third option – but there is still more to it than this. The BOK sets out three phases to winning as the incumbent:

  • Performing to win. Making sure performance is on track, soliciting customer feedback, capturing metrics, and identifying trends
  • Preparing to win. Capturing rebid with the vigour of new business, shaping acquisition and solicitation, and preparing price-to-win and the solution from the ground up
  • Proposing to win. Writing a compelling proposal aligned to evaluation criteria, bidding to the solicitation (not what you know), and not assuming that the evaluator knows your performance history”

The first phase is vital. You should plan for your recompete in plenty of time; after all, you know how long the contract is for, whether any extension discussions have happened, and therefore should be able to anticipate when the client will issue the retender. While you should be gathering client feedback throughout the contract anyway – via client review meetings, informal feedback, reporting/MI, your own performance metrics etc – you should be collating and reviewing this information as a bid team at least three to six months before the retender is due.

Create a feedback loop with those on the front line with the client

You shouldn’t rely on just client feedback however. The second phase, preparing to win, needs the bid team to create a feedback loop with those on the front line with the client – your Account Managers, Project Managers, and Service Delivery Managers to name a few. They are the people who are best-placed to gather intelligence (capture management) on:

  • Were any issues raised by the client that you overcame?
  • Did you demonstrate an improvement in performance during the contract?
  • Did you bring any added value innovations and improvements as a result of the contract?
  • Is anything new or coming down the tracks that is of importance to your client?
  • Are any competitors are talking to them, and how your client views this competition?
  • Are there are likely to be any cost constraints – or indeed larger budgets (we can but dream!) – for the new RFP?

This is all key information you can use to your advantage when recompeting – assisting with the development of your win themes and value propositions, and your price-to-win model.

The third phase is where complacency could really come into play. As the BOK states “The old adage ‘proposals are scored, not read’ might very well apply here.” The danger with being the incumbent is that you assume you’ve carried out the contract well, the client is happy and there’s no reason for them to change supplier – so you don’t need to change things up too much. On the flip side, you could also know too much – and risk bidding for the current contract, not the retendered RFP. 

Do not assume that the procurement evaluators know your business at all, as they may be completely independent to the client service side. As with any bid, you should answer the questions as written – not how you think they should be answered based on your current relationship – and ensuring you can achieve the highest scores against the evaluation criteria. You must be compliant, regardless of how well the client knows you, and how well you’ve performed (or think you’ve performed!) You should also challenge your business. Don’t simply continue how you have been working– what can you do differently this time around? Always ensure you are offering the best solution to the client and their future needs.

Throughout these three phases, one factor is key – leverage what you know, but don’t rely on it or take it for granted. The client won’t.

Categories
Procurement

Are you ready for post-Brexit UK public sector procurement?

Last week, the UK Cabinet Office issued a Procurement Policy Note (PPN) reminding UK contracting authorities* that when the UK withdraws from the EU they will no longer be able to publish opportunities via the OJEU Tenders Electronic Daily (TED) system**. New procurement notices normally legally required to be issued to TED will instead have to be issued to the new UK e-notification service, Find a Tender (FTS) which will go live at 23:00 31st December 2020 when the transition period ends.

Fancy a game of snakes and ladders? Following the new FTS guidance

The PPN instructs Contracting Authorities what action they will need to take, which varies depending on which other services they already use. There are also exceptions – mainly if the procurement had already been published, or a PIN issued, on TED prior to 23:00 31st December 2020 – in which case until the procurement is concluded (i.e., awarded, withdrawn etc.), all subsequent notices and stages will still have to be published through TED. The Cabinet Office does suggests replication on Find a Tender as well however.  

The Notice was accompanied by a set of FAQs and a flow chart that wouldn’t look out of place on a snakes and ladders board but, despite initial appearances, is a helpful map of the various scenarios.

But what does this mean for bidders?

If you currently bid for UK public sector contracts, you will need to use the new FTS platform, in addition to any other portals** you are already registered on.

You cannot access the FTS url, or therefore register on the platform, until it launches after 23:00 31st December 2020, but you can access test data outputs, and can also request data for testing from the Crown Commercial Services (CCS) helpdesk.

EU public sector opportunities are unaffected of course, and will still be published on TED.

So get updating those portal spreadsheets, and don’t forget to register on the new FTS.

We have a feeling the CCS helpdesk might be a little busy fielding queries for a while!

*Including Central Government Departments, Executive Agencies, Non Departmental Public Bodies, wider public sector, local authorities, NHS bodies, and utilities in respect of procurements regulated by the Public Contracts Regulations 2015, the Utilities Contracts Regulations 2016, the Concession Contracts Regulations 2016 and The Defence and Security Public Contracts Regulations 2011 (the “Regulations”).

** None of the other public sector platforms (the Cabinet Office lists Contracts Finder, MOD Defence Contracts Online, Public Contracts Scotland, Sell2Wales, eSourcing NI and eTendersNI) will be affected.

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Bid process

The question of clarifications

According to the APMP Body of Knowledge (BOK), a clarification is: “Communication to eliminate minor irregularities or apparent clerical mistakes in a request for proposal (RFP) or in a proposal.”

In our experience, there are two extremes of clarifications on bids; at one end of the scale, those bids that are pretty self-explanatory but there may be a little more information you’d like, or the ones you read and think, “what are you talking about?!”

But when should you raise clarification questions? And what are the best types of questions to raise?

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

When (and how) should raise your clarifications?
If the client has provided a clarification deadline after which they will respond, always try to submit your questions at least one or two days before this if you can. Just like submitting your response on a portal at the last minute, there’s a risk that systems may not work, or every other bidder has the same idea – meaning your messages could get lost in the chaos.

Some clients don’t provide a deadline, and clarifications can be raised (and answered) throughout the procurement period. Here, you should try and raise your questions as soon as possible. Firstly, why not get the information you need as soon as you can? Secondly, it provides a further opportunity to go back to the client if things are still unclear and before it’s too late down into submission.

In either scenario, unless it is impossible for logistical reasons (or the client’s response prompts more clarifications!), you should always try to raise your clarifications in one batch. Think about how frustrating it could be for your potential client (or existing client, if a retender of course) to receive multiple questions in separate emails / messages from you. Having said that, we’ve not long worked on a bid where the client send out over 300 clarifications in individual message threads…

Clarification: Communication to eliminate minor irregularities or apparent clerical mistakes in a request for proposal (RFP) or in a proposal

APMP Body of Knowledge

What types of clarifications should you be raising?
Looking back at the BOK definition, it’s perfectly valid to clarify the date of submission, or the deadline for clarification questions, if different dates are provided across documentation. If you are submitting via an online portal, it’s rare (in our experience at least!) that the date there is incorrect – so this could be used as a deciding vote.

If the documents refer to forms or other documents to be completed, but which haven’t been provided, these should definitely be raised as a clarification. For other clerical errors, you may be able to logically work out yourself without embarrassing or annoying the client by raising them formally – such issues include incorrect page numbers or headings, spelling mistakes etc.

You should also raise clarifications if information is missing or unclear, that you consider vital to submitting your response, such as (but not limited to!):
Information required for pricing purposes, e.g., in a tender to supply contact centre services, you would need to know average call lengths and volumes to determine how many staff you need to price up for. Or in a professional/consultancy services tender, you might need to know how many hours / days’ work they require over a set period.
Information required for logistical purposes e.g., where the client needs services to be delivered from, or whether any existing work or staff would need to be transferred.
Information on current operations, such as current contract spend, areas with the highest volumes of work or areas of greatest concern to the client.
Evaluation or scoring criteria hasn’t been included, or no weightings have been provided by the client – in most cases, this information can help you shape your response accordingly.
Contractual points, e.g., are there clauses that your company cannot agree to that you would seek to negotiate at this time, or does the client reference performance indicators which aren’t defined?

You shouldn’t, however, make your (or your competitors’) lives more difficult through your clarification questions. Don’t ask questions you don’t want the answer to! The ones that always make us roll our eyes are those bidders who ask for word or page limits to be increased. Unless they’ve made a mistake, the client has assigned those limits on purpose – they may have a small team, who can’t read 10 submissions of five volumes each. Or, they are simply judging how you follow instructions, and present information concisely. While you might have the client who is open to extending, or removing, word limits – what does that really achieve, especially if you’ve already drafted a response, other than additional work and potential impact on your colleagues?

Think carefully about what is vital information, de-risk your questions, and always be polite – and don’t be that bidder that all the others roll their eyes at!

Categories
Procurement

Social Responsibility in Bids

An interesting article from Innovators Mag came through on our bids and tenders alert last week, which talked about Socially Responsible Public Procurement (SRPP) and measuring the social impact of public sector procurement.

The article cited a recent report by the European Commission: “Making socially responsible public procurement work: 71 good practice cases”. The report examines how procuring bodies – and, of course, suppliers – can make SRPP visible, through the promotion of a range of factors including “employment opportunities, decent work, social inclusion, accessibility, design for all, ethical trade, and compliance with social and environmental standards”.

From the supplier side, how often are you asked to show how you would promote social responsibility? In our experience, questions in this area are becoming ever-more frequent, and just some of the examples we’ve seen in the last couple of years include asking how suppliers would:

  • Increase employment opportunities in the local area
  • Create apprenticeships for young people
  • Support local charities and underprivileged groups
  • Reduce the supplier’s and awarding authority’s carbon footprint
  • Demonstrate a local presence
  • Demonstrate a commitment to gender and ethnic equality
  • Use sustainable business practices
  • Adopt family leave policies for domestic violence

What we need to do is think outside the box a little – both on the supplier, and procurement sides

The article notes that many suppliers might “find it hard to incorporate a social dimension in their bids”. This may be true, particularly for certain industries which require specialist skillsets or where your product/service may not naturally lend itself to providing social value as a direct output. Supporting charities has often been an ‘easy win’ for companies to talk about, but it is no longer enough. What we need to do is think outside the box a little – both on the supplier, and procurement sides.

Innovators Mag points to a great example of putting this into practice from The City of Helsingborg (Sweden), which hosted a market consultation exercise to share with potential suppliers its aim to create job opportunities and/or internships for the unemployed through its procurement for cleaning services. This was built into the procurement evaluation criteria. Of the six organisations that took part in the market consultation, four became suppliers, and five unemployed people were provided with jobs or internships in the contract’s first year.

The Helsingborg example also shows that it isn’t enough to simply talk about what you do in terms of social value – you have to offer proof. Many procuring organisations also expect you to continually measure and report on your social actions.

With the effects of the global pandemic ongoing throughout 2020 and no doubt into 2021, SRPP will surely only increase as we look to ‘fix’ our economies. It’s definitely time for all parties to think more creatively about how they can give back to our communities through responsible procurement.

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Bid process

Bids: The Horror Story Collection

Watching some scary films for Halloween got us thinking about our bid horror stories over the years. These are just a few examples, sure there are many more if we thought about it (although we try very hard to forget them!)

Buffy and the Scooby Gang didn’t know terror like bids… https://miro.medium.com/max/3200/1*YVFBjWOirnvpXeUk5bj7Og.jpeg
  • Being sat in a hotel room at 2am the day before submission, trying to translate our bid speak into formal contract terminology.
  • Uploading a huge multi-partner £50million bid to an online portal, all the bid team stood around watching, with the documents so large they were taking forever to upload. Finally submitted and accepted with 43 seconds to go.
  • Proof reading a global opportunity with a colleague from 4pm to midnight, then back up at 5am to finish off. The week before Christmas. Independence Day was on in the background; have not been able to watch it since. 
  • First bid for a new employer. Hard copy required – courier was late picking it up, then got lost. Sent out with a junior employee in a taxi while ringing the client to beg them to accept it… 
  • Sat in a deserted office the night before a Bank Holiday, awaiting a courier delivery of a new contract for signing the next week. 
  • Hitting roadblocks at every stage of the process when the bid sponsor wouldn’t take on board any suggestions from the rest of the team – only for them to change their minds at the last minute. Cue mass re-write…
  • The client who sent out hundreds of clarification responses one message at a time. 
  • Working with a teaming partner whose pricing put us £50k above budget, and who refused to take anything out of their model. 
  • Having a member of the team going into labour the morning of the client presentation, and prepping someone to jump in!
  • The multi-work area global bid that landed on Christmas Eve and was due on January 2nd. Why do clients do that?!
  • An e-auction that was originally booked for 30 minutes, and would extend by 10 minutes if someone placed a new bid in the last two minutes. Three hours we sat in that room…
  • The huge re-tender that was in progress for 18 months and we were incumbents – only to lose it on price, undercut by several £million. Devastated doesn’t cover it!
  • Being asked to pick up a bid started by a colleague whom our manager had been asked to remove by the lead contributor. Awkward… and a week left to turn it around. Don’t think daylight was seen that week. 

And yet, despite all the horror stories, this is still a job we love to do! Most of the time…!