Bid process

Kickoff or kick out?

When do you hold the bid kickoff? Is it one of the first things you do when the bid lands? Or do you only hold this meeting when the bid decision gate has been passed, and you know whether you should be submitting a response?

Jack Grealish lining up for some kickoff / free kick magic

I have worked in organisations where as soon as an opportunity comes in, a kick off call or meeting is convened. No evaluation has taken place, and the kickoff is treated partly as that discussion.

By the time you have the kickoff, the opportunity should have been fully qualified with three key questions addressed – is the opportunity real, can we win it, and do we want to?* But, like where I previously worked, how many times is the kickoff used to have those discussions – when it’s already too late? If you haven’t already held the bid decision call/meeting, once the team is engaged on a kickoff it can feel like a runaway train that you have no way of catching to bring the team back to properly debate whether we should be bidding in the first place.

The APMP Body of Knowledge (BOK) outlines two major pitfalls around the kickoff – and in my experience, the first point is where the damage most often occurs:

  • Confusing the kickoff meeting with the initial planning meeting: The kickoff meeting should not be confused with the initial planning meeting. An initial planning meeting should be an internal meeting with core team members immediately after the RFP is released. The outcomes and directions of this initial planning meeting are the inputs to the kickoff meeting.
  • Not allowing sufficient time to plan a kickoff: Considerable time needs to be spent preparing for the kickoff. Having a kickoff meeting as quickly as possible after the release of the catalyst documents can set the team up for failure if key information and guidance is missing. Take the time to prepare and plan. Ensure that all fundamental documents are in place prior to the kickoff meeting.”

The kickoff should also happen later in the process than you may probably expect. According to the BOK: “Kickoff meetings are not executed immediately upon RFP receipt. Resist the urge to have a kickoff meeting as soon as you receive the bid request… Instead, schedule kickoff meetings about 15 percent into the response timeframe.” 15 percent. That means if you have a three-week turnaround, the kickoff meeting should not happen prior to day three. Obviously, shorter timeframes mean it can still feel as though the call is happening “as soon as” the bid lands – but you still should have evaluated and made a qualified decision to bid prior to this meeting.

So you now know you shouldn’t hold it immediately, but when you do, how long should the kickoff be? This will depend on the opportunity and submission requirements, but the BOK suggests you set aside up to four hours. How often do you do that? Or do you just have a quick half hour? This is another reason, in my experience, why the kickoff and bid/no bid meetings get confused.

The kickoff should be a key activity along the bid timeline – it takes time and preparation, both for the bid manager, and the bid team. At the point of holding a kickoff meeting, as the bid manager you should have reviewed the client papers so that you can provide an overview of the requirements and timetable, the longer-term programme, and answer any questions the team has. You should look to agree win themes, your value proposition, and relevant team and experience. At a more granular level, the kickoff should also be used to agree and assign tasks/actions, confirm the timetable and agree logistics, and confirm any early clarifications you may have for the client. The BOK has a useful checklist, but even a simple list of tasks can be used as your agenda to ensure you cover everything.

So if you are one of those organisations that holds kickoffs immediately, think of it as a kickoff from a free kick when the game is already in play.

*For more detail, see our blog on the importance of bid decision process from last year.

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.

Personal development

Bids at Downton Abbey

Lockdown 3.0 has again meant binge watching, and some comfort viewing was required. For this, I’ve returned to the simpler times of Downton Abbey. Clearly the time in isolation is taking its toll, as on this re-watch I’ve started to think about the characters taking their rightful places in a bid team (and as we know procurement was well under way by this point, there could well be a lost episode where the Crawleys bid to supply the village’s meat…) But who is who?

Firstly, the bid manager. Practical, organised, logical, promoting the ‘correct’ way of doing things. And above all, can be commanding when required, keeping everyone on the right track. It can only be Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham – especially with innate Bid Manager traits and values like this:

The wisdom of Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham

So, if the great Violet is our bid manager, who is the sponsor? Who makes the decisions and drives everyone to achieve the common goal? Step forward Lady Mary; she’s intelligent, forceful and was born to lead. She is the person with ultimate sign off on the bid, and the organisation’s strategic decision.

While Lady Mary is our sponsor, she will delegate where needed to the appropriate bid lead; the one who knows the client better, is loyal to their needs and ensures the bid submission meets those needs. This is the role of Lord Grantham – he takes responsibility, both internally for his team and externally for his client.

Creating the content takes a hard-working, loyal bid writer. Lady Edith isn’t interested in leading the group, but she is driven and wants to progress; she takes ownership of her career and future development, while avoiding the main conflicts within the bid process.

A bid team often needs to rely on subject matter experts. Those who hold wide knowledge and experience, and bring forward ideas for the bid. Tom Branson, and Matthew and Isobel Crawley are the problem solvers of the bid team – they are logical, driven and results-focused, analysing the correct approach in each case. They are loyal to the team’s success.

The bid support function underpins the team, carrying out even the smallest tasks to ensure it operates effectively and harmoniously. Supporting the team on a day-to-day level are Lady Grantham and Lady Sybil. They feel great responsibility for the bid team – they are kind, always encouraging, and putting the team’s needs before their own. They are the heart of the team.

When it comes to the presentation, you need those bid team members who are outgoing and used to being the centre of attention; the performers. Build the presentation team around Lady Rose and Henry Talbot and you won’t go far wrong! They’ll adapt to any last-minute changes during practice, and will also keep everyone’s spirits up during the most stressful times.

This is your primary bid team, the ‘upstairs’ characters of Downton Abbey – but you could easily build a second bid team with the ‘downstairs’ characters. And after all, how often is an organisation multi-tasking on opportunities? If this happens, you can turn to Carson to be your bid manager, supported by Mrs Hughes as your sponsor and Mr Bates as the bid lead on this second opportunity. Anna is your bid writer, working closely with your SMEs O’Brien and Jimmy (although you may need to keep them under control). Bid support – and most importantly, food – will be provided by Mrs Patmore and Daisy, and you can always bring Ethel back into temporary employ for the presentation alongside Thomas Barrow.   

So, when that second bid comes in, know that you can rely on the ‘secondary’ team. For as Lord Grantham himself said to their Bid Manager “You managed splendidly…please thank the staff for saving the day”.

Personal development

You’re a Bid Manager, Harry

What if those were some of Hagrid’s first words to the famous Harry Potter, rather than “you’re a wizard”? What if Hogwarts was a school of bid management mastery*, not witchcraft and wizardry?

The four Hogwarts houses have their own characteristics and traits by which students are sorted, but what type of bid team would that make them?


Characteristics: Values courage, bravery, nerve, and chivalry. Can be arrogant and conceited…

Bid team style: They believe they are the best; are well thought of in the market and amongst their competitors. They will pitch for the hard to win clients, trying to unseat long-term incumbents. May take each bid to the wire at submission time – but will do so with true team camaraderie. Will always be proud of the submission they have put in. 


Characteristics: Values intelligence, learning, wisdom and wit. Can be egocentric and snobbish…

Bid team style: They will focus on where they can add value and do something different for the client, offering something no supplier has before. Their bids are usually technical and detailed in nature, often using quotes and imagery to convey wit and/or individuality, but can come across superior at times. 


Characteristics: Values hard work, patience, justice, and loyalty. Can be stagnant and lazy…

Bid team style: They value long-standing client relationships and put time and resource into bidding for retenders or different service lines for their clients. Often just bid for anything though, taking the easy route. The team takes care of each other, regularly holding team-building events and bringing in cakes and biscuits as the deadline approaches!

And finally, Slytherin

Characteristics: Values ambition, cunning, leadership, and resourcefulness; will do anything to get their way.

Bid team style: Like Gryffindor, they will bid for the hard to win clients. But rather than rely on talent and market opinion, they will use every method at their disposal to find an ‘in’ with the client – including poaching staff from their competitors. Also aren’t above offering a bribe. Once at presentation stage, their charisma works well for them and is often where they win the pitch. 

I’ve never knowingly worked in a Slytherin team I think! Can I take a bit of Gryffindor and a bit of Ravenclaw?! Now class, Winloadsia Bidiosa!

*Would anyone attend?! That’s probably a thought for another blog…

Bid process

Internal debriefs

A few weeks ago, we wrote about the value of carrying out client debriefs whether you win or lose a tender. But that is only half of the debrief story. How often do you review the bid process with the bid team who went through it? 

Whether your organisation has multiple service areas and the bid team changes every time, or only one line of business and the same team on each bid – there will still be learnings, and opportunities to improve your processes and win rate. As the APMP Body of Knowledge (BOK) says, “from the internal lessons-learned debriefing, you can learn: how efficiently you operated [and] the strengths and weaknesses of your proposal process”. 

The internal debrief should be conducted as soon as possible after the bid has been submitted

According to the BOK, your process should be to conduct an internal review, develop your internal lessons learned, carry out the external client debrief, and then combine all feedback to develop and implement your improvement plans. While you will need to wait until the client award decision for an external debrief, the internal debrief should be conducted as soon as possible after the bid has been submitted – firstly so the process is fresh in the team’s minds, but also so the team is not clouded (negatively or positively!) by the award decision. 

The focus of the internal review should be positive – rather than ripping apart what went wrong. That is not to say you don’t discuss what didn’t work, but you should approach it from a positive and constructive slant. The session should include all key team members who were involved in the bid, such as technical/solution leads, operational leads, pricing, graphics/design etc. The BOK sets out some of the key areas to think about with the internal team:

  • How effective were our opportunity/capture planning and proposal management processes?
  • Did we get senior managers involved at appropriate points?
  • How do we rate the proposal for compliance, responsiveness, persuasiveness, and clarity?
  • Did we budget correctly for the proposal development efforts (resources, time, and money)?
  • Were the needed decision points properly scheduled and presented to senior management for bid/no-bid decisions?
  • Were the appropriate reviews done? Did they provide significant improvements to the final bid? What could be improved?
  • How well did the team(s) work together?

Consider using a structured feedback form to keep the session to a rough agenda, and to help later in coding/categorising the feedback received. You could also share this ahead of the meeting, so team members have an opportunity to reflect beforehand. When running the feedback session, the leader should encourage feedback to be shared constructively and focus on the bid, not the people involved. 

After the meeting, document lessons and summarise recommendations for improvements, combining them with client feedback into an organisational improvement plan which is communicated to the key stakeholders for action. As the BOK says, “lessons collected are not lessons learned”.

So next time you submit a bid, don’t fall into the trip of thinking the only valid feedback is from the client – your team members can provide equally valuable learnings!

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.

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…*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…!

Bid process

Bid Team, Assemble!

Following on from our blog linking Disney films to the bid team and bid process, the journey through the Disney+ back catalogue has continued, and this week it is the turn of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Who am I kidding? Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a complete Marvel-obsessive and probably can’t believe it’s taken this long for this one to appear!

The Bid Team Avengers survey the scene post-review

Taking it back to basics, we’re looking at the core Avengers team – the original MCU 6 – and where we can find them in our bid teams. In no particular order (although clearly Cap is the best…):

  • Captain America – brave, loyal, disciplined, committed to the cause, and the defacto leader of the team, Cap has to reflect the Bid Manager (although with probably more bad language on the bid side). Your Captain America brings the team together, ensures everyone knows their role and responsibilities, and gives encouragement where it’s needed. Captain Bid sees the long game, and how the team’s actions during the bid can impact the submission. Not afraid to make a stand where needed, and even if it means going against a colleague.
  • And so to the “Science Bros” of Tony Stark (Iron Man) and Bruce Banner – these are our SMEs, the technical, operational and financial experts in our bid team. Sometimes throwing ideas into the mix that you think will never work, yet somehow a few days later they have a full technical spec or working prototype. They’re the members of the bid team who look at the submission from every angle, ensuring the solution’s success. And yes, often the ones whose content you can’t understand and you just have to hope someone on the evaluation team does!
  • Black Widow – trained for years, a distinct and specialist skillset, and often operating under the radar of the main bid team, is our commercial lead. They stealthily assess the bid solution, the pricing model and client contract, taking in all known and unknown quantities before executing their attack, pinning the team down until we cut those five roles, 20 laptops and weekly team-building spa day we don’t need.
  • Hawkeye – taking a bird’s eye view of the bid, our red team reviewers. Often not as involved throughout the process as the other team members, and sometimes off doing their own thing until the end. The red team has an ability to see the full picture from afar of what is happening, then focusing in on the core win themes, any issues and risks, and what might be missing from the bid.
  • Thor – the God of the bid team is the bid sponsor, often your CEO/MD/Ops Director. Strong and up-front, they wield the power of the purse strings. They will encourage – in their own way – but may also be uneasy of being challenged in their position. Of course, they may not always think things through and take someone’s head off in a moment of madness (not literally, hopefully), but that’s the risk we take!

And finally, breaking the rules of the MCU 6 a little, but an honourable mention for the Hulk, Bruce Banner’s alter ego. The unknown quantity who suddenly enters the team, causes chaos, smashes up the solution and disappears again.  

So, Bid Team – Assemble!

Personal development

What’s in a name?

While we all work in the bid industry, how many variations of our job/role titles are there? We often see bid managers, bid leaders, bid strategy managers, work winning managers, bid advisers, proposal managers, pitch managers… and that’s before including all the writers, coordinators, assistants and designers!

If somebody asked you to describe the various roles, my guess would be many would say something along the lines of: bid managers lead to end to the end process, writers stick to the content, designers to the images, and co-ordinators/assistants help out where needed. Proposals and pitches are less strategic, shorter, and more proactive ‘punts’. Or, for many, the proposal can be just a small (!) part of the overall bid process.

Both Shipley and APMP Body of Knowledge (APMP BOK) describe the roles within the bid team. APMP suggests bid manager is more UK/Europe focused, and proposal or pitch manager is more US-based. In the last 24 hours on LinkedIn, there were 21 new bid roles and 14 proposal roles advertised in the UK; so there are signs that if that UK/US split was historically correct, this is beginning to merge. There is also a crossover between managers and writers – with many manager positions pitched (no pun intended!) as a ‘writer plus’.

Figure 1: Differences in job titles 1950 to 2013

But do you fully understand what the various roles actually mean? And what should be highlighted as key differences between the roles?

Increasingly, it seems it is organisational choice of whether your teams are bid, proposal or pitch, and managers, specialists or writers*. But at the grass-roots level, the different roles and responsibilities should be:

  • Bid/Proposal/Pitch manager: leads the overall proposal development, from bid decision through to post-submittal actions. They develop the win strategy, themes and discriminators and manages the integration of your organisation’s offering against the requirements. They lead the bid team (often multi-workstream) to prepare management/technical content and the commercial offering, schedules and manages reviews and sign offs of content and commercial, ensures the bid is compliant and is submitted on time, and manages any client follow-up, e.g., clarifications, presentations etc. The bid manager also ensures appropriate stakeholder involvement at all times – whether that is your internal senior management, or external third parties.
  • Writer: provides any specialised management or technical content required to respond to a proposal or bid. They will work to the agreed bid themes, win strategies and graphics, and follow guidance from the bid/proposal manager. The writer ensures timely provision of their content and other supporting information within the overall schedule.
  • Coordinator/Assistant: supports the bid manager in controlling the overall process and production plan. They will typically maintain and update the plan and content schedules, provide a point of liaison between the teams/specialists involved, and will support the review and production process including print and collation for hard copy submissions. They may also take on some of the more management focused content, such as producing team charts and CVs.
  • Designer: may solely produce images to be used within the bid, or may work with the bid manager from the bid decision to design the overall look and feel (and layout) of the bid. Adobe InDesign is increasingly used as the bid format of choice, and you’ll often see a requirement to have proficiency in/knowledge of in role advertisements.

Whether you are a bid, proposal or pitch manager, or a strategist, specialist, writer, co-ordinator, assistant or designer, one thing should be the same – we all work together to submit a compelling, compliant and on time submission, hopefully winning our organisations new business.

*For the purpose of understanding the differences between the team roles here, bid, proposal and pitch are interchangeable.

Bid process

Once Upon a Bid…

Storytelling in bids has been a topic of much conversation over the past few years, with interesting sessions from Sarah Hinchliffe and Ashley Kayes recently on the APMP calendar.

In Ashley’s session in the recent Winning Business Virtual Experience, she highlighted the link to Disney – ‘storyboarding’ as a concept started in the Disney studios. This got me thinking about the similarities between many Disney animated films and the bid process. There is a chance continued lockdowns are starting to take their toll… or just that I watch too many Disney films. But there are some shared themes!

The Little Mermaid

  • The Disney version: The film tells the story of a mermaid Princess named Ariel, who dreams of becoming human and falls in love with a human prince named Eric, which leads her to make a magic deal with an evil sea witch to become human and be with him.
  • The bid version: The challenger firm dreams of being “the one” and usurping the incumbent. They look for the insider knowledge, doing a deal to repay the favour with a job if it works out well…

Peter Pan

  • The Disney version: Wendy Darling and her brothers John and Michael go on an adventure to Never Land with Peter Pan (the boy who never grew up) and his pixie friend Tinkerbell. Peter leads a band of Lost Boys who spend their time hiding from and fighting with Captain Hook. After helping Peter win a battle with Hook, the children fly back home. Peter and the Lost Boys return to Never Land.
  • The bid version: Peter and the Lost Boys are the MD and the operational and technical experts the bid manager (Wendy) tries to round up and control to input into the bid; usually seen all the time, now the bid has come out, they’ve gone into hiding.

The Black Cauldron

  • The Disney version: Set in a mythical land during the Early Middle Ages, the evil Horned King hopes to secure an ancient magical cauldron that will aid him in his desire to conquer the world. He is opposed by a young swineherd named Taran, the young princess Eilonwy, the bard Fflewddur Fflam, and a wild creature named Gurgi who seek to destroy the cauldron, to prevent the Horned King from ruling the world.
  • The bid version: Two bidding firms – one of which is the incumbent – battle over a third party expert who will give them the edge in the bid.


  • The Disney version: The film follows Aladdin, an Arabian street urchin, who finds a magic lamp containing a genie. He disguises himself as a wealthy prince, and tries to impress the Sultan and his daughter.
  • The bid version: The bid team that exaggerates or even makes up its experience to get in the door with the client and their advisors. Beware – the lack of experience will be found out!


  • The Disney version: A lost, young princess with magical long blonde hair yearns to leave her secluded tower. Against her mother’s wishes, she accepts the aid of an intruder to take her out into the world that she has never seen.
  • The bid version: A client has been with the same service provider for some time. The service delivery team has pushed back on their MD as they feel things can be improved. The client is now coming out to bid for the first time to find something different.

Big Hero 6

  • The Disney version: Hiro Hamada, a young robotics prodigy, forms a superhero team to combat a masked villain.
  • The bid version: In probably the most obvious bid link of the Disney back-catalogue, the bid manager and sponsor pull together a crack bid team with differing skillsets to outbid the competition.

And finally, an honourable mention to Inside Out – set in the mind of a young girl, where five personified emotions (Fear, Sadness, Anger, Disgust and Joy) try to lead her through life. Definitely all the emotions the Bid Manager goes through during the bid process…