Following my Bid to Win session in association with the Lancashire Construction Best Practice Programme and the Federation of Master Builders on the 17th May 2012, below is a background narrative article, links to the key slides and documents referenced.
The following article was originally written for Interiors, the AIS publication.
Bids that Win 2012 Style
The world is changing, today we find our selves in a very different and more challenging environment than we have previously faced. New themes and initiatives have taken over from those in the nineties and noughties. Probably never before have we had the urgency and importance for survival and resilience, for integrated and balanced approaches to economic, environmental and social responsibilities.
Winners are those who have embraced change. But, are we applying the same patterns of thinking to bid responses that we did 5, 10 and more years ago?
Winning work today requires more than just the technical capability and capacity to deliver the work. Important as these are, increasingly vital is the how, the responsible manner in which we undertake the work. Responsible management approaches, or Corporate Social Responsibilities, have been described recently as the DNA of a business, your image and your reputation.
Towards the end of 2011 I wrote a five part series of bidding articles as part of the AIS Build a Better Contractor programme that covered
- Getting Ready (you do not win the bid at bid stage)
- Improving Content (evidence, evidence, evidence)
- Getting it Right (selected not de‐selected)
- Presenting your Bid (can you walk the talk)
- Learning (for the next bid)
These articles can be found on the AIS Build a Better Contractor web site along with a series of three accompanying webinars delivered more recently for AIS Members
This article then, provides an overview and further narrative to the on line material along with questions to challenge, and indeed improve, your approaches
Getting Ready (you do not win the bid at bid stage)
Understand the industry and embed progress. Being able to demonstrate that you are tuned into current and emerging best practice and legislation can be essential in moving a ‘good’ bid response to an ‘excellent’ bid response.
Understand where your sector and the industry is heading and ensure these changes are fully discussed at board level (or equivalent). Sustainability, diversity, localism and CSR for example should be seen as strategic issues not just a tick box for bid or project issues. Directors and boards need to lead, providing stability and encouraging innovation for change.
Being visible and engaging with the industry has perhaps never been easier with today’s social media, web and cloud technologies. The power and potential of social media is yet to be realised. On one hand social media presents a phenomenal tool for sharing news, keeping informed, demonstrating innovation and engaging with clients and partners, on the other hand it can be your Achilles heel, rapidly broadcasting irresponsible practices or intentions, undermining all the good work in bids and client relationships.
Having an appropriately positive approach to Social Media with guidelines or codes of practice for use by staff in the business and on projects will increasingly become high priority.
Improving the content of bids (evidence, evidence, evidence).
Evidence of how you go about delivering projects is your key to successful bids. Who in your organisation is collating and recording your story, the who, the why, the how, and the where ‐ as well as the what you did.
A project diary kept as a project blog can provide an effective time line and record of how you approached the project, worked with the client and others, brought innovation and solutions to the project. Good solid, honest evidence could well move your bid scores from a five or six out of 10 to a 10 out 10.
Take a look at the evidence you have submitted previously and ask the ‘so what’ question. If you were reading for the first time what would really you think?
Is it anecdotal, could it have been written by anyone or is it unique to you, does it tell your “story’? Do you find it interesting or dull? Is it innovative?
Its also a good time to review your project data sheets, are they what you would expect from an innovative company in 2012? Make them come alive by adding maps, links to innovate web pages, your company, the building or clients websites, online pictures, reports, blogs or articles on the building or project. View your project sheets as an interactive PR tool rather than simply a flat brochure. Using online material wisely and effectively can really demonstrate how innovative your organisation is.
Getting it Right (getting selected not de‐selected)
Through careless errors, bidders all too often throw away points, deselecting themselves from success. Having a robust written process, as part of, rather than outside of your management systems, to manage the preparation, collation and submission of bids is essential
Presenting your Bid (can you walk the talk)
Once you have submitted your excellent, well focused PQQ, have been invited to an interview and to present to the client, can you really ‘walk your talk’? Often the presentation can be your last hurdle in the bid process, a competition with just a limited number of bidders. It’s your opportunity to demonstrate you are better than the best. Prepare, Practice and Seize the opportunity to impress!
Learning (… for the next bid)
Submitting good bids is not always good enough. Your bid submissions must continually improve, each one being better than the previous, and of course each being better than the competition. Don’t leave improvement of your bids to chance, but view bid writing as a core business activity, with appropriate management, resources and contribution from all.
It is vital that you work to improve bid responses between bids, for example collating evidence to strengthen your story and demonstrate your capabilities and innovations
Five Bid Improvement Thoughts
- How can you embrace social media to win work?
- Get an independent (internal or external) health check to review and update your evidence.
- List the reasons why you have de-selected yourself on previous bids
- How can you really shine at interviews and presentations?
- How do you ensure that each bid is better than the last one you did?
Zap or Sap
How do your bids appear to others? Reading between the lines do you Zap energy, ie come across as an eager, open and problem solving, collaborative working, with a proven supply chain of a similar ethos, or do you come across as a business that Sap’s energy, that in spite of technical excellent appears as hard work, guarded responses with a supply chain to be advised?
Martin Brown is a built environment improvement and social media advocate, providing consultancy support through Fairsnape, and can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org. You can join bid improvement conversations by following Martin on twitter @fairsnape (and indeed through following @AISInteriors)
Martin’s blog at www.fairsnape.wordpress.com provides commentary on built environment news, comments and tips for bidding. Martin is also a contributor to the Guardian Sustainable Business built environment hub and CSRWire’s Talkback
The slides used to set the context for bidding in Todays Construction can be found here.
Simplified Bid to Win slides can be found here.
Download a copy of Never Waste a Good Crisis document from here The Wolstenholme_Report_Oct_2009
Construction PR and Marketing in a Digital Age – Record of Target Event held in Leeds 23 May 2012