One of the key elements to managing a tender are the stakeholders involved. Timeframes are tight, and bidding teams tend to bring together specialists and management from right across the business; a group of people of all levels of the organisation who don’t necessarily work together often. There is never enough time to build rapport or relationships the way you might in other streams of business, and the stakes are high.
It is so important to make the best of every meeting and engagement.
Follow these top 5 tips to set your bid up for success and manage stakeholder engagement.
#1. Manage diaries
Every meeting has key stakeholders, without whom, the meeting would not achieve its goals. The key to setting a meeting up for success is to contact these key stakeholders before you schedule the meeting. Make sure they are aware of the meeting objectives, ask them for input on the agenda items or invite list, and confirm that the proposed meeting time suits their existing commitments. If appropriate, have a quick chat with their personal assistant to make sure they understand the size and scale of the meeting (particularly if it is a kick off meeting), so that you don’t find the meeting ‘bumped’ at the last minute.
Getting these key stakeholders involved will ensure a successful meeting and put the bid on the path to success from the beginning.
#2. Work with content owners
Many people in business are not ‘writers’. They have found other strengths and pursued a career in line with these. So it should come as no surprise that many of these people – no matter how senior they are – are not comfortable writing.
Continually harping on these people to produce content is not the path to success. If you find that a content owner seems disengaged from the process, suggest alternative means of developing their content. Coach them. Talk through the response with them. Develop a storyboard with them. And if all else fails – have a writer interview them and write the first draft for them. Many people are much better at reviewing drafted copy than writing it themselves. Whilst this approach cannot work for the entire bid content, it is important to recognise a bottleneck that is likely to put the whole bid drafting timeframes at risk, and do what you can to release it.
#3. Bring people together
Many content owners leave the kick off meeting and wonder off into their corner office and never engage with the bid team again. The result (often at the eleventh hour) is a stack of responses that have no relationship with each other, and a tender document that doesn’t flow.
It is the bid managers role to bring people together. Make sure that your human resources content lead is involved in technical and pricing decisions that will impact the number of people, or skill level required to deliver the solution.
#4. Be proactive
Other than the direct bid team roles (manager, writer, coordinator, etc), the rest of the assigned team have day jobs. It is important to remember this. Whilst the bid is your top priority, it may not seem like a priority to other members of the team. You need to get on the front foot. Make sure they know what you need from them, and they have all the information they need. But also check in with them to see how things are progressing. Talk through their responses with them, to make sure they are working through it, and help clear any blockages. If someone is difficult to get hold of, be creative about doing so, speak to their PA, or colleagues to find out when they are likely to be at their desk again. Text them to see if they are available for a chat. Check their calendar. Schedule a one on one meeting. Do whatever you have to make sure they know what they need to do, and how important the timeframes are.
#5. Keep informed
Knowledge is power. Make sure everyone in your team has all the information they require to do their job. If you’ve had a workstream meeting, send an update to the rest of the team at the end of the day. Every discussion and decision will impact others in some way, no matter how small. It may not occur to you or others at the time, but by keeping everyone informed, you can ensure that other discussions are adequately informed and the solution and response elements are all based on the same point of truth. Regular updates will also help keep momentum and motivation amongst the team.
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