Bid content

File or Flight?

How do you handle filing the bid-specific but onwardly useful information? We’re not talking about the content here, but case studies, CVs/bios, and pricing examples that you might not use every time, but provide key information next time you have a bid in the same sector.

Are you the “save everything down” team, or the “tender database” team? Having worked in both team types, there are positives for both approach.

Some firms saved the full bid after submission, in SharePoint or other online repositories. We could search basics, such as the sector, business lead, and work area (as long as they’d originally been saved correctly of course!), but could not ‘search inside’ the tenders to know if they included specific peoples’ bios, or specific case studies when you were looking for something in particular. Unless you’d worked on the tender, you were going in blind. You might be searching through tens of tenders to find the one bio you need, or relying on others in the teams to give you pointers on where to look for certain information. On the flip side, the positives were that when you opened the tenders to search for information, you might find something else that you wanted to use, or spark another idea.

In contrast, at a different organisation, we saved down all the case studies and bios in dedicated folders following every bid. The case studies were saved with the client name, sector and other tag words in the file name. Short and long versions were saved into the same file, so you always had an option depending on word limits etc. Bios were saved firstly in office location folders, then alphabetically by team member, and again with the client name, sector and date in the file name. Yes, it meant we sometimes had 50 bios for one person, but they were all slightly different – vital when you are searching for specific industry experience. With pricing, we had example fee menus saved for the various work areas which – although they were always tailored to the client and the project – gave us a starting point, rather than a blank page or hunting through hundreds of tenders to find examples.

This approach meant that the next time we had a property bid for a technology client, for example, we could quickly identify the latest, most relevant, bios for the required team members, the most relevant case studies, and ideas for pricing. All saving time in drafting and input from SMEs.

While you innately build up a knowledge base in your head over time, and will know where information is stored, new starters or those in linked teams do not have that knowledge

Whichever direction your team takes, the most important factor is to properly share how your system works/should be used, and to give training to any new starters or other teams on where to find information. As with most tools, they only work if we know how to use them. And while you innately build up a knowledge base in your head over time, and will know where information is stored, new starters or those in linked teams do not have that knowledge. Share the love!

Bid content

Using creative case studies and CVs for bids

What proportion of the bids you work on ask for the provision of case studies and/or team CVs? At the ITT/RFP stage, a conservative estimate might be at least 75%. And even if they’re not formally requested, are you missing a trick by not including case studies of your previous work and brief bios of your team in relevant answers?

Both are what the Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP) Body of Knowledge terms proof points: “Proof points are facts that provide verifiable evidence for your solution’s features and benefits. They support your company’s win themes and discriminators. Without proof points, proposal evaluators may question whether features are proven and benefits are achievable. Proof points make your proposal compelling to a customer.”

Put simply – the bid response showcases what you could do for the client – case studies and CVs prove it.

Keeping a log of the case studies, along with details of the last time you used them is a useful tool

Of course, for case studies, you should always ensure you request and receive your clients’ sign off to use their name and details of the contract in future bids. File them in your content library by sector, and/or using key word ‘tags’ that can be added to the document properties. The general rule of thumb – prompted by public sector bids which similar give this timeline – is that case studies used should be no older than three years, so their regular review is an important task. Keeping a log of the case studies (including whether you need to request permission each time, or you have a blanket ‘ok’ to use), along with details of the last time you used them is also a useful tool; especially if you are using the case study as a formal reference – after all, there could be a risk of annoyance to your client if they are asked for every bid you submit.

CVs for all team members should be filed in your content library with the bid/client and date in the file name. This will help you see at a glance which are the most recent and, more importantly, relevant for each team member as the CV should be tailored for the specific opportunity; particularly important if your organisation works across multiple sectors, common in professional services for example. Again, regularly review to ensure leavers are removed from the library.

But how do you make your case studies and CVs really stand out from the competition, even before the evaluator has read one word?

Do you now use a simple template to include in an Appendix, or a call out box in the main body of text? While the structure may of course be client-prescribed, a more recent – and more creative – approach we’ve seen is to use an infographic style presentation, either as a full case study, or as a lead in for more detailed text / client examples summarised in bullet points underneath.

Many people prefer, or more quickly process, images to words

Take a look at the basic examples for a client case study and team CV for a contact centre bid below. As an evaluator, would these capture your attention more than a full page of text? Do they bring the subject to life, and would they make for a more compelling or appealing response compared to bidders using text only?

Figure 1: Example of a client case study infographic
Figure 2: Example of a team member CV infographic

It’s often said that many people prefer, or more quickly process, images to words, so why not give your proof points the best possible start during the evaluation process? While these examples were produced quickly in Microsoft PowerPoint for the purpose of this blog, there are many free infographic templates available, or you may be lucky enough to have an in-house design team who can produce an all-singing all-dancing page spread.

It can be time-consuming to produce a case study or CV, but once you have built up your library, they can be quickly tailored to resonate with specific bid requirements or to show how you’ve previously, and successfully, handled any client pain points. And, for the right clients/opportunities, used creatively to illustrate your proof points.

The key with these, as with all things bids, is to file with relevance, review and update regularly and use with intent!