Most procurement panels consist of several representatives, from various areas of the business. They will often divide the tender document up into different sections to assess it more accurately. The team will be lead by a procurement officer who has limited technical knowledge. Never assume that the person reading your document understands all of the technical jargon or specifics.
We often draw technical and operational personnel out of their operational roles to assist on a bid team and help articulate the more technical elements of a tender response. It is essential to get input from these specialists and ensure the solution is appropriate for each client, and fully responds to the question. However, these experts tend to be highly experienced and knowledgeable, and the reams of content they produce can sometimes be overwhelming to those from other parts of the business, or indeed outside of the business.
The Bid Manager or bid team’s role is to help ensure that the content put forward in the bid is suitable for all audiences on the evaluation panel.
The aim of each response is to ensure that the evaluation panel is given the information they need to score the bid highly. It must answer the question. This element can sometimes be over looked as long reams of technical explanation fail to get the basics right.
If the question ask if your company can do something – by all means back your answer up with some detail, but never forget to start the answer with a simple confirmation that you can do it. This may be as simple as stating ‘Yes, tenderer confirms ability to meet zxy’.
It is also important to remember that this is a competitive process. Whilst the tendering process is confidential, there is always the risk of providing too much detail to a prospect via the tendered documents – and giving away all your secrets. It is not common, and certainly not considered best practice, but there have been times when tenderers have found themselves unsuccessful on a bid, only to find the incumbent back in place with a very similar solution to what was put forward. Don’t run the risk of giving away all your secrets.
By concentrating on what the benefits are to the client, you can detail elements of the solution, without handing your manual over.
Including graphics can be a great way to simplify complex content and make it easier to digest. Diagrams are also a great way to capture a different element of the audience who may be skim reading the document, and have influence on the evaluation panel. It provides opportunity to outline features and benefits of the solution in a different context, and will help to cut down on extra text.
Finally, if highly technical sections are required, it can always be added as an appendix. This way you will not confuse the non-technical evaluators with information they do not require, but you will satisfy those technical counterparts on the prospect team, that you do know what you are talking about and have the knowledge and experience to implement the right solution.
This article is based on our ‘Bid Improvement Kit’ which documents the 7 most common mistakes growing businesses make when tendering for new work.