How do you ensure you have the right skills, methodology, budget?
It starts with a plan.
You need to identify what information you’ll need and when you’ll need it by (remembering to allow time for transferring the information to the document and preparing the document).
Once you know what you need to discover, you need to understand who has the information, and how it will be identified and crafted to fit the big picture promise you want to make.
You’ll need to identify the number of Subject Matter Experts (many of whom will be in your team already), engineers, specialist technicians, specialist or technical writers and tender writers.
It helps if you can identify how many pages you’ll need to create – which (with some experience from Mijo) will help you understand the number of writers required and for how long.
(You’ll also need to identify and second the relevant engineers, technical specialists or subject matter experts. Depending on the scope of the tender, you may potentially need them for many months.)
Then produce a plan which includes a critical timeline, reviews (plus identifying relevant reviewers) and accessibility to subject matter experts.
How do you ensure the project stays on track?
You need a champion.
A sponsor. A senior member of your team who will drive your team to meet relevant deadlines. This person will be responsible for the successful delivery of the tender – working hand in hand with the senior Mijo project team – and be someone who can ensure access to relevant skillsets, engineers and subject experts.
If you’re doing the tender as well as Business as Usual, you will probably require additional funding, to ensure supplementary resources are available to cover for your subject experts’ ongoing projects.
When do I need to engage a tender response company?
Call us as soon as you get invited to provide an Expression of Interest.
Or when you receive the documentation for the tender.
We’ll be able to give you a quick overview of what you might need and the sort of timeline you should expect to follow.
We can step back while you organise things internally. Or partner with you to drive the project, and the creation of the submission, as soon as you receive the Expression of Interest.
How do you understand the tender’s real needs?
What the tenderer asks, and what they need, can be different questions.
There are ways to recognise and understand the underlying (often non-stated) issues that must be addressed.
Turn to your salesforce.
Ideally, your salesforce, or your senior project manager, has a well-established and informed understanding of the tenderers’ issues, real needs and how this tender contributes to their improved outcomes. Without this relationship and mutual understanding, your chances of winning are reduced.
In the absence of such an understanding, a good writer will seek understanding of why a question has been asked. Not simply for the obvious requirement but seeking to understand why it’s important to the client.
Further insights are often provided by the tender documents’ evaluation criteria, stated objectives, requirements, outcomes, and KPIs.
How do you create a winning edge?
Find a way to differentiate yourself in a positive way.
You can either be different to your competitors. Or significantly better. Make your solution better in ways that are meaningful to the client by addressing their issues not just their requirements.
It starts with seeking to understand their real issues, seeing the pressures they feel from their external and internal stakeholders, identifying the larger forces at play within the sphere of the project. Identify the unique benefits your company can provide that will be valued by your client.
By showing you understand their real issues as well as their requirements, you will be better placed to provide an integrated, comprehensive solution which demonstrates your knowledge of their industry.
And all of this knowledge is proven by the way you present your case.
Write in a compelling style that highlights the many benefits of your solution (not just its features). Make the best possible first impression by using a graphic designer to make it fully professional from the first glance. As well as clear differentiation, consider early delivery, and enhanced value for money as valued benefits when appropriate.
Is customer research valuable when trying to win a tender?
Unless you already know everything about your client, the current state of the market, competitor activity and any pending regulatory changes. Even if you are highly familiar with the industry, or the need of the project, research can identify underlying issues which may only recently have become apparent. If you can address these issues, where your competitors don’t, you’re more likely to win. By recognising the key points of your research in your proposal, you show a desire to create a successful project, not just a successful tender. Correctly targeted differentiation wins.
How do Mijo team members work with your team?
Ideally, we become part of your team.
We sit with the project team. We participate in briefings, where appropriate. We openly collaborate with your team as integrated members just like everyone else.
Each member contributes their speciality. You provide the Subject Matter Experts. We provide the communication and marketing skills. Together we make the solution compelling through differentiation, persuasion, repetition and consistency underpinned by relevant experience and evidence.
The earlier you engage us, the more we can contribute and the earlier we can guide your team thereby improving efficiency and outcomes.
How long will the tender take?
As long as it takes to put your best foot forward.
The length of time is usually defined by the tenderer.
Start planning immediately. And ensure you allow enough time to respond in full.
One of the most common pitfalls of responding is not fully answering the question and therefore being scored as non-compliant.
Ideally, you should spend half the time ensuring you’ve gathered the appropriate information or can guarantee its delivery in enough time to ensure the new information fits with the style and look of your tender.
And allow enough time to polish the tender. By creating a sound structure, a clean layout, easily understood graphics, well-focussed and compelling narrative, repetition of win-themes and easy to understand language that invites readership, supports comprehension, persuades and establishes credibility.
Why is stakeholder engagement important in project delivery?
Everyone likes to know they’ve been consulted and have been heard. True collaboration, with ideas shared and explored, generates buy-in, trust and ultimately support. When stakeholders feel heard, engaged and considered, a project is more likely delivered on time and on budget. And the project is more likely to deliver what stakeholders actually want.
Do I need to conduct stakeholder and customer research?
If you want to show you truly understand their needs. And prove your proposal answers their questions and their unspoken needs. Research permits you to better understand the needs and wants of Stakeholders and the reasoning behind those needs and wants.
On many occasions, this extra knowledge further clarifies the genuine concerns stakeholders may have, so solutions can be found that work for both parties. By taking the time to investigate the detail, we uncover the insights which reveal where resolutions present themselves.
How important is social licence?
Social licence is the acceptance and approval of a project within the communities affected by the project. It is a critical part of a project to establish social licence – as the process will identify pain points and potential barriers within the community for the project. And, therefore, identify ways to smooth the delivery of the project.
Social Licence is defined specifically for each project. It requires the development and execution of a tailored Stakeholder Engagement and Communication plan.
This plan then provides a framework for the entire project team, not just the stakeholder team to work towards. The whole team then promises to undertake respectful and collaborative engagement and communication during the project delivery.
What makes good design?
Good design helps you tell your story in the most effective way in your tender response. It establishes the best possible first impression.
Good design is a matter of balance. Great content that looks hard to read will often not be as easily received as good content that looks easy to read, easy to engage with and easy to understand.
Good design provides the ability for you to add additional graphics to sell complex ideas, in a distilled way to a tender review panel which may not be constructed of people that understand highly specialised, highly complex concepts at a granular level.
Should the executive summary be designed, or just written?
Well designed, and well written.
Good design helps your executive summary sell your story. A well-designed executive summary provides a holistic, overarching understanding of your entire bid offer and it establishes the visual style of the tender. It distils the many moving parts of your response into one succinct document. Great design helps turn the summary into the ‘5 minute tender’ and, as such, is critical to set the tone of your tender response.
Can pictures tell a thousand words?
Absolutely! Great pictures, easy to read infographics and clear graphics make your content and complex concepts easy to understand.
They help you control the way a review panel navigates through your tender response, ensuring they fully understand your bid in its entirety.
Do you need a tender document library?
Only if your business regularly depends on winning tenders.
Corporate repositories, and tender libraries, can significantly reduce extra pressure and manpower required during the response period.
Corporate documents do require disciplined consistency and regular attention to keep them complete, current, and searchable. But the effort is worth it.
Start at the end.
A good time to start a library is at the end of a tender response where people are very familiar with where documents are and what different documents contain. A small team, and a modest budget, can establish or contribute all the projects documents to the central library along with the appropriate referencing and meta-data to facilitate searching and digital storage.
Create a special place.
Many organisations build a specific web browser (varying from SharePoint to Google docs to a bespoke sub-site). This provides easy access for future projects and facilitates versioning, partitioning of different document types, and standardised naming conventions.
What pitfalls should I look out for?
Each Request for Tender or Expression of Interest will come with similar challenges. And most will have specific challenges which apply only to that tender. Common pitfalls include:
- Not answering the questions in full
- Merely providing answers to the questions, without showing an understanding of why your answer is relevant, or which benefits each new attribute contributes too
- Not allowing enough time at the end of the timeframe to properly print or present your case
- Having team members work to different timeframes
- Having siloed teams create their own responses
- Having team members who don’t buy into being part of a team, or who are not held accountable for delivery
- Having Subject Matter Experts who assume the deadline for delivery is the deadline for providing information
In short, pitfalls can be separated into five distinct components which must be addressed to give your tender the best chance of winning:
- Define a delivery plan
- Have a common understanding of what success looks like – for the team and for each member
- Make people accountable
- Create an energetic culture
- Regularly monitor progress against the plan.