Having an endless supply of accurate information is one of the main challenges of bid writing or delivering any kind of submission. The task of gathering, collating and cataloguing this data is never complete, but done properly allows you to focus on developing quality bespoke content for each pitch, rather than searching for material you know you have written before, but can never find when you need it…
I speak from bitter experience – going back through submitted bids to strip out and archive good content for the future is never a priority, however, I have wasted many an hour under stress sorting through previous content to find something I know i have written before.
This post focuses on the types of information bid people need to be gathering and some suggestions for saving it, so you can find your content later on. Follow my guide to building your bid library so you won’t be tearing your hair out half an hour before the deadline.
If you get your responses to Standard Supplier Questionnaires together, you will be more than halfway there. I like this consistent approach to requesting information from bidders – the dream scenario would be that it would contained in a centralised database that procuring organisations could access, but that’s a conversation for another day.
If you develop your standard information into the following business functions, you will have the right data at your fingertips when you need it – creating a much easier life for yourself. This information includes (but isn’t exhaustive):
This is basic structural information on your business, including the certificate of incorporation, company number, VAT number, registered address, number of offices, description of services provided. Review and update this content annually.
Finance and accounts
I recommend putting a basic Word table together that captures turnover, profit and turnover by sector or service where you can as well. This may also need to be supported by annual accounts, so save these as well, keeping a record of five years. Review and update this section annually.
I check with my new clients whether they hold ISO 9001, and recommend they obtain it if they haven’t already. Your quality management section needs to contain quality certificates (if you have them), standard text on approach and process, implementation and non-conformance, and complaints procedures. Review and update the material annually and speak to your quality manager following any audits to see whether there are any actions to be implemented.
Health and safety
Some businesses will have safety certifications and some won’t – this is ok, but every business should have a suite of information that covers its health and safety procedures and systems, including a policy statement and health and safety statistics. It’s also worth getting your head around the CDM regulations as a bid person working in the built environment. The roles and responsibilities are different for each discipline, and this has an implication for the information required. Review and update annually and keep up to date with any changes in regulations.
Every business should have an environmental management policy, and documented processes and procedures about how you manage your environmental impact, both from a business operations perspective and how you design/engineer/build buildings. I also recommend that bid people gather information that demonstrates the effectiveness of any initiatives – bids love statistics.
Also, if your organisation is involved in designing and delivering BREEAM-accredited buildings, you can never have too many case studies on how the grade was achieved and what the quantifiable outcomes have been. Review this information annually and produce case studies on an ongoing basis.
This is a topic that is becoming one of the most important quality sections in a bid. Gather information and case studies that demonstrate how you are working with the wider community, the opportunities for employment or training you are providing, or how you have maximised local spend on construction projects. Review this information regularly, updating case studies and statistics.
This information can be wide-ranging, including Investors in People, policies on a range of issues from recruitment to development, staff numbers cut by grade and staff turnover. Best to make good friends with your HR team and ask them to provide a range of information on a regular basis. Review and update annually.
This covers specifics such as design approach or how you planning construction projects – it will be generally guided by quality management processes and be available within the business. Ensure you are communicating these processes and procedures accurately. Review and update annually and be aware of updates or changes.
Bespoke ‘golden nuggets’
This is the content that has been specifically written for other bids and submissions. It is often technical in nature and takes a while to produce. Examples can include ‘added value’, ‘BREEAM’ or technical approach, but this list isn’t exhaustive.
When the submission has been completed, go through the bid and strip out this content and archive it in a separate Word document. The most simple approach is to create one document with an index of the questions, along with the responses. This will enable you to quickly search through in future and will also provide you with a boilerplate or ‘starter for ten’ for those last-minute submissions.
Again, this information can be reviewed annually or more frequently and updated with fresh content or examples. Always key to these questions is the quality of evidence provided to support your claims. Make sure you speak to your technical colleagues to know what is happening on projects.
Cataloguing content after submissions
Develop the discipline to strip out and catalogue the good stuff after each submission – an hour after bid will save many hours searching for content in the future. Develop a process that works for you and the organisation you work for. As you develop your library, you will become more adept the sorts of data and information required in the bids you tend to work on, and you will build efficiency into the process.
How to save your information
It’s one thing gathering all the information together, it’s something else saving it somewhere. There are many solutions out there – from specific programmes, to something more simple like folders on your shared server. Select what works for you – I would recommend something simple with access for the people who need it.
All of these information requirements have one thing in common – as a bid person, you are reliant on other experts providing the data to you. Find out who is responsible for providing this data within the business, and make friends with them! There may be information sources, such as business systems that you can tap into. Maximise these.
If you need to structure or develop your business’s bid library, I’m always happy to chat through your options with you.