Bidding Tips #4 – Writing

Writing is easy for some, difficult for others but writing winning tenders remains challenging for all!

As a result of of this let’s look at three key aspects:-

  • Style
  • Structure
  • Content

It is easy to confuse all, however, it is important to know the difference.

Writing Style

Described as the narrative aspect of the response Style is the basic component in a Bid or Tender.

To neglect style indicates loss of focus on the buyer, therefore the same style doesn’t suit every application process.

Keeping the information relevant to the reader depends of adjusting the approach to meet the buyer’s specification.

Tip 1 –

use a reflective style in responding to the opportunity. Where the specification uses very short sentences and paragraphs, few multi-syllable words and word pictures, respond in the same way.

More expansive specification content and the inclusion of reference points, data sources and guidelines does indicate the buyer is looking for synergy.

Tip 2 –

adopt “one voice” when responding. This ensures that the answers flow. Individual contributions require editting everytime.

Example:

A Construction Company requested support following 12 months of failing to secure 1 of the 30 opportunities they bid for.

We asked the Buyers for their feedback in other words we found out why specific bids failed.

Reviewing the scoring trends the same parts of the response scored poorly. Common factor two senior managers refused to allow junior staff to edit their content.

This immediately changed and they were successful.

Lesson – Carry on repeating the same error and it is the same result.

Conclusion – style counts and it takes time to master

Structure

Opportunities always arrive with clear guidance. Failing to study the guidance leads to issues with bid and tender structure.

Cataloguing or Indexing are classic issues. As a buyer it was common to have bids and tenders returned with the requests on structure, format and file attachments totally ignored.

When there are a lot of responses structural issues with bids cause them to be ignored.

Structured answers generate better scores. Where the buyer has created a composite question answer in the same order. If this requires some repetition that works.

The question has been asked in that format for a specific reason.

Consequently structure your answer:-

Tip 3 –

Statement, reason, evidence and justification statement.

This lets the Buyer know you understood the question, your reason for responding this way based on the evidence you have provided. The final statement reinforces the competence.

 Tip 4 –

Create a clear format for evidence. This ensures that the buyer gets the point. Fluid evidence reduces the potential for scoring.

Content

Verbage, redundant words and irrelevant page fillers create confusion consequently resulting in poor scoring opportunities.

Therefore, a lack of white space, total text, prevents the reader from absorbing the information and reduces the likelihood that everything is read thoroughly.

Charts for chart sake and the same with pictures fail to enhance the document. They may look pretty and break up the page. However, chose with care.

Above all use:

  • Short sentences.
  • Short papragraphs.
  • Clear answers.

Hiding the response in words is a classic content issue. Clarity, Brevity and Relevance are the best editing tools on content.

Tip 5-

Edit content with two questions – does it answer the question? is it relelvant to the response.

The bid and tender writers working with our clients ensure that the content, structure and style present the appropriate picture of competence, capacity and capability.

Tip 6 –

Consequently, word redundancy, wasted content and long paragraphs are distracting, keep it short and clear. If you can say it in 100 words then do!

Hands On workshops

Therefore the Spring Masterclasses and Tender Writing workshops are designed to explore aspects of this subject in depth. Join us for the “hands on” workshops in London, Birmingham and the South West.

Contact us for the next dates.

Ontogenesis – Ontogeny

Ontogeny releasing total growth

Ontogenesis – the development of an individual organism [business] or anatomical or behavioural feature from the earliest stage to maturity.

A word that describes the process of Business Development.

Ontogeny

Ontogeny

One word that conveys the full meaning of development and growth. As an organic body needs to develop in all aspects, so does a business.

As analysts we disect the whole of the business to understand the impact of development. Isolate the risks, therefore ensuring the planned.

Specifying the order for sustainable growth. Consequently empowering mature business development.

Reason for adjustment

Pidgeonholing a development practice limits the scope of impact. Tender writers win new business, we’re very successful. However, the service impacts on all all aspects of the business.

Ontogenesis desribes the holistic approach. As change occurs in one area it affects another. Therefore, the team address the impact and develop adjustments as required.

Business writing requires that the language used encapsulates meaning, empowers the author and moves the reader to action.

The difference between advertising, marketing and tender writing focuses on the evidence base. Words are our tool.

Impact

Every tender requires an opportunity analysis. Successful bids are deliverable contracts.

Experience contiues to demonstrate that bids based on promises require additional work once contracts are secured.

Using the process of ontogenesis – the whole business development model – clients are prepared for expansion. Consequently the alterations in practice are minimal.

Policy Audits

A critical review process of every policy linked to a tender or development plan requires objectivity. Additionally, honesty.

Off the shelf policy packs are the start. Use procedures and processes to describe how the policy is implemented. Then check it works.

Pricing

Flawed development stems from poor pricing!

Hourly rates calculated by undercutting the competition create complications in development.

Pricing of products based on apparent market rates for similar products are unsustainable.

The uncertainty created requires an immediate remedy. Therefore, be ready to change.

Additionally make acurate pricing a priority

Staffing

“The Business out grew the staff” or “we needed other skills” indicates a need for more effective staff development and training tools.

Staffing requirements always change, develop a flexible, learning and progressive core before it becomes a crisis.

Customer Loyalty

Repeat business is essential, however, new business fuels development.

Therefore:

Define new business

– previous clients or customers that return to buy more of the same are valuable. However, when they buy additional products and services they are investing in your growth.

Up sell other products and services. Ensure advice is impartial and in the best interests of the customer. They trust you, like and want to do business with you.

Allow the customer to choose.

Conclusion

Consequently, Ontogeny is the whole process of development. Working with our team unlocks all the areas of development, creating the sustainable platform for growth.

Call or contact us to discuss how Ontogenesis releases the potential.

 

Opportunity Sourcing

The right Opportunity “enables” the tender writing team.

Tender writing is competitive, therefore, the goal must be achievable!

The right tender opportunity empowers the team and the content.

Three points to consider

TiGolf Link not wasted I hope Time, Evidence, Experienceme

Experience

Evidence

 

Time

Create time and prepare for the “Opportunity”.  Consequently time to correct and polish.

Short lead times create stress, consequently unnecessary tension. A listener hears tension in the voice, the buyer reads uncertainty.

Consequently Team Directors that exploit all the lead time ensure a competitive potential winning tender!

The Lesson therefore:-
Prepare the opportunity,
remain focused!
Experience

The “opportunity” builds on the existing experience of the business.

Tight fitting, verbous tenders are likened to slim fit suits on overweight models. Everyone can see the problems.

An experienced team tailors the presentation of information to suit the tender opportunity.

The lack of experience is evident in the repetitous structure of the tender.

Engender collective ownership of the opportunity when drawing on the experience of the business. Everyone supports the winning team.

Evidence

The “opportunity” creates a broad scope for evidence.

One project referred to 10 tens in a tender response can emphasise the lack of experience. Evidence embeds the competence and flexibility.

Use images, photographs, charts, case studies and customer feedback.

Ensure the evidence is specific, clear and linked to the specific evaluation measure for maximum scoring.

                                               Evidence pyramid

In contrast, gathering evidence after the opportunity is published again creates an unnecessary pressure. The combination is often skewed or the linking points tenuoius.

Create a library of evidence.Likewise The Winning tender requires excellent preparation.

Competition

Be Realistic!

Example: How many of the 124 football clubs in the FA Cup (from the first round proper) have the potential to win the trophy?

All 124 participants. But, only 20 survive to the 3rd round when the big clubs join in. For that reason: Who are the more confident? Who has a better chance to win?

The Lesson therefore:-
Start from a position of confidence. 

Therefore, apply this winning tender writing process. Establish the core elements of the bid, settle them before the opportunity is published and provide the evidence.

That completes compliance.

Establish the financial security of the business and that creates the business competence.

Stage three is where the competitive element and skill of the tender writing team secures the business.

winning opportunities

Conclusion

Compliance and financial competence meet the “opportunity” requirements. Therefore, the team remain focused on winning.

Winning tenders require the right opportunity selection, therefore use the best notification services.

Furthermore Outsource to Tender Management and Writing professionals.

Ensure the preparation, resources, document management and ongoing evidence collation, start with confidence.

Contact Mark to discuss the service we provide. Finally discuss the training options available to bid writing teams.

Consequently:
Develop the Winning Habit! 

 

Further Education – Funding

UK Further Education funding is a strange culture.

The provider needs to understand they are a business, therefore, avoiding unnecessary risks by management teams. 

Retail in contrast

At the local takeaway , I noticed that cameras were directed at the customers and the staff. The owner sent a clear message “this business is monitored!”

An overt and sensible approach. We expect that level of scruntiny in that type of workplace. 

Further Education

However Further Education providers appear to accept much activity on trust. 

The average learner has a cash value.  

The provider asks staff and subcontractors to complete the learning package. Self assessment and form filling is a primary tool. 

The rest is taken on trust. This is unsustainable.

This is a recipe systemic abuse. The results speak loudly. Providers fail audits because the core evidence is missing.

Time to change

Prevention is the First Step

Prevention of systemic abuse by providers is the goal. However, a recent monitoring visit highlighted:

  1.  The failure to use technology
  2. Poor monitoring of staff
  3. Poor internal auditing systems
  4. Lack of fraud prevention tools

This demonstrated that the Directors failed to understand the importance prevention. The process of their product enables staff to take short cuts. 

As both and Assessor and Tutor it has always been clear to me that time was the enemy. They are pressured to get the learners through quickly. This creates issues.  

So the first duty of the FE provider is to prevent systemic abuse.

Funding Body Pressure

The College or small provider is also pressured by the funding body.  The funding system is skewed. It fails to treat the providers as businesses.

To eat the takeaway we must first pay for it.

To engage a training provider the funder uses instalments. In arrears. Payments include an outcome component paid much later.

This model lends itself to exploitation and corruption. 

The immediate answer alternative payment models. Use technology, direct learner linked transfers.

Offer a simple pay you learn system. 

Consequently it is the Funding body payment arrangements that create the systemic pressure. Use a prevention model to remedy the issue. 

The Conclusion

30 years in Adult education and things don’t change. Therefore, create at least two alternative strands of unrestricted income. 

FE providers are businesses. Therefore, the product demands protection. Additionally,directors must build the safety measures into day to day activities. 

Staff and the learners know the value of the product, consequently they expect you to protect it. 

Make learning count, therefore, appreciate quality of teaching. Remember that further education is a business.  

Services and Support

Therefore, we provide:

  • education funding services;
  • business support;
  • education compliance support; 
  • quality system development;
  • prevention tools;
  • Robust audit systems;
  • Create strong income streams; and 
  • Advice 

Contact the team for more information and of course bid writing support. 

Bidding Skills #1

This Bidding Skills series is an opportunity to share key tools with other bid writers. Enhancing the winning process underpins continued success.

The #1 Skill is Attitude – Keep Learning

The Bidding Structure

Notice
Opportunity
Expression of Interest
Bidding model 
Submission
Evaluation 
Outcome

This is a straightforward process – when complete we just move on to the next opportunity, don’t we?

Our Learning Opportunities

  •  Wins! – We need to understand how!
  • Unsuccessful – then understand Why?

Two valuable resources for the succfessful bid writer.

Your winning tender or bid response had something that resonated with the buyer. Identifying just what achieved that outcome ensures that it is used in the next opportunity. Also that you begin to compile more evidence supporting the evaluation.

So always ask for feedback on winning submissions. Analyse the best parts and then identify areas that you thought you would do well with, however the scores indicate that more is required. 

Winning example:

10 is excellence, 1 is failed to impress. 

On your customer service or experience you expect to score 8 however the evalation process scores it 6. Ask three questions:

  1. What did we leave out?
  2. Why was this average?
  3. What should we include?

A valuable session in the one day workshop focuses on Learning from Winning. These three questions require the delegates to look at the evaluation criteria with their business in view. The discussion highlights that many think what they do for the customer is excellent, however it is just the same as every competitor.

The reason is linked to sweeping generalised responses, so we encourage specific examples of postive customer experience. These experiences also have a limited shelf life. Over 6 months ago and these are historical, the events need to be hot of the press and contain specific statements from the customer. 

Unsuccessful analysis 

Blame isn’t the result of proper learning analysis, improvement follows. Looking at what a bid or tendered failed often highlights individual omissions, failures and errors. 

Attributing them to an individual creates an unnecessary pressure. Look for the learning points. 

The first is: Why didn’t these things get picked up before we submitted the bid? Where in the process was this missed? 

Now take a little time to follow up on who won. Research the company, did they outsource? Are you percieved as a natural competitor? 

Now look at your score thresholds: it is common to find that average is often mistaken for excellent. Achieving and industry standard is not excellence, however add value to that achievement by explaining the impact and score move upwards.

Learning New lessons

Every bid and tender manager goes through a lean patch because that is the nature of the creative approach, however we never go through a patch where we stop learning.

When the win ratio begins to drop improve a specific skill, use a new tool, start training new staff or audit the business systems. Remember learning in business is the primary tool that leads to success.

Conclusion 

Therefore, can we win everything we go for? Only if we are the only company buidding. Competition leads to both winning and losing. 

Learning from losing is important but learning from winning is equally important.

Need assistance in analysising Bids and Tenders then contact us

Factoring and Tenders

Factoring affects the financial credibility of a small business.

What is Factoring?

Investopedia describes Factoring as:

What is a ‘Factor’

A factor is a financial intermediary that purchases receivables from a company. A factor is essentially a funding source that agrees to pay the company the value of the invoice less a discount for commission and fees. The factor advances most of the invoiced amount to the company immediately and the balance upon receipt of funds from the invoiced party.

Read more: Factor

Harsh measure
                    How it works

Businesses that need to resort to Factoring Agents immediately inform the buyer that cashflow is an issue. Isn’t it confidential? No! When a business collaborates with an agency the paperwork includes a “charge” against the business. So the first credit check or compliance audit shows the priority charge against the business.

Money for Invoices

Sounds great on the face of it. The Factoring Agent rates of payment of your invoice then the balance less fees when the account is settled, it can’t be a bad thing, can it?

Factoring as a first stop demonstrates a lack of confidence in customer relationships or satisfaction, it is also evidence of poor risk management, because too few Small Businesses understand how their marketplace works, they arrive with the invoice, its part paid but what impact does this have on the longterm cashflow?

I have an example for you to ponder on.

A Home Care Support provider has a contract for 300 hours a week. Great news!

The terms are non-negotiable; payment within 14 days of invoice – subject to authorisation and satisfaction.

To win the contract they looked at the competition, the common pricing structure and decided to undercut the hour rate by 10%.

They have the staff, care package and the start date.

Knowing the cost of an overdraft the decision to factor seems reasonable.

Invoice for 1st weeks hours is sent in knowing it will be paid in 14 days subject to satisfactory terms met; so they factor the invoice and receive 75% of the value immediately. They repeat this every week for 6 weeks. What is the cumilative impact on the business? Great they can pay staff wages but suddenly they are aware that the balance is critical and they are under pressure to meet increasing demands.

What if one invoice is challenged? How does that impact on the business?

Its not all negative, businesses survive and come through this but there is a valuable lesson in this for all business owners.

Playing catch-up on cashflow as a new business is a struggle because the gap is always widening is an unnecessary burden, Plan Strategically and work into the contract, no one wants to see the business struggle, so work with the goodwill.

Is Factoring wrong?  

Not at all but for a new start up with a limited customer base it is very dangerous. A single disputed invoice can break the bank.

Understanding the risk should create an awareness to exhaust all the other solutions.

The primary way to avoid the issue in the first place remains know the real costs of your operational activity, breakeven point, profit and investment calculations before you take on a contract, then  you know the impact of undercutting that price.

In the case to ponder above after three months a business was already losing 7%, it stripped out the profit, the Directors could not pay themselves, ending with another charge on the business for a mortgage..

1st Principle of Bidding

Understand how much you can afford to charge and what that unit cost or hourly rate covers.

Working with KKS Management clients we calculate three figures:

  1. The minimum you can afford to charge
  2. The clear contingency and reinvestment sum
  3. A real profit margin

Winning new business is difficult, invest well in the process and understand the financial needs of your business and factoring becomes a measured response to slow paying loyal clients that you can afford to carry.Essential Tender Quality mark

Grow carefully and sustainably! Looking to grab loads contracts at the lowest price is an unsustainable approach. Competitive Tendering requires more investment, knowledge and planning, this is the primary investment strategy every business needs.

Anyone can set up in Business but not everyone can make a success of it. Improve your odds by getting sound advice

2019 Tender Writing

2019 the year of growth for small businesses.

Reshaping the trading arrangements for large international companies is going to be painful, especially for the Public Sector.

Challenge

The challenges include understanding the private sector, having been used to large multinationals controlled by EU Regulation. The new marketplace is an opportunity for local business owners to take back the contracts lost to EU based companies.

Winning business from a risk averse public sector requires strategic planning and development. Answer questions before the buyer realises what they should be asking.

Fear

The biggest fear is a skills drain, explain how your company is going to fill the gaps. Why your structure provides the openness and accountability required because you’re based in the local community.

2019 is a year of opportunity, more markets because the UK is a net importer therefore, the priority is replace the imported products and services. For example: retro fitting dual fuel (hybrid technology) reduces the need for improting vehicles. It costs less than buying new and offers the UK an innovation niche.

The application of technology is simple, cost of production lower than most engineering companies realise and the market is massive.

Politics doesn’t drive business interest or the marketplace unless business allow that to happen.

Options and Opportunities

Before investment and funding businesses need to have a clear plan, effective systems and baggage free market conditions. The Business Consultancy Network portal creates those bespoke solutions for companies looking forward to growth and expansion.

We focus on the needs of the small business, creating a competitive profile and developing simple win strategies that demonstrate the flexibility and cost effectiveness of the UK Small Business owners.

Contact us for early booking details and looking forward to seeing you there.

Business Support

Business support in practice.

The holistic development of a business remains one of the most exciting parts of working with Small, Medium and Micro enterprises.

We have been providing this support for 35 years.

Developing our core practice skills working for Public, Private, Small Business, Social Enterprise and Not for Profit businesses.

The team is innovative, dynamic because they apply their scalable management, strategic development skills to all businesses. Consequently, enhances the offer to businesses.

Our Offer

Mark P Trotter established the inital structure, attracting talented freelancers  and businesses who had demonstrated to him that they are “the best” in their chosen skill.

The links with technical and copywriters; graphic designers; marketing specialists; bookkeeping; accountants; health and safety; training providers enhance the offer to local businesses. We work with proven talent to ensure a single point of contact.

Mark P Trotter offer:

    • Business development services;
    • Extra hands to work alongside your project team,
    • outsourced services;
    • Business planning;
    • bid and tender writing;
    • policy management;
    • bookkeeping;
    • skills analysis and gap management;
    • training; and
    • development.

Access to the dynamic team and inclusive approach is the equivelent of attaching a booster to your business.

All prices quoted and agreed are fixed (conditions apply). Follow the blog.

Quality

People are at the heart of every business. Therefore, support comes with a commitment to quality improvement. This is achieved using practical Essential Tender Quality markdevelopment and support systems.

Quality must be auditable, therefore, we ensure that the tools you use to measure quality are applied to the service you provide.

Contact

Start small and test out our skills! because we work alongside you as we deliver you decide how we take the working relationship forward.

Therefore, the key part of the offer is our experience which has taught that business owners often know what the issues are and the extra hands we offer present the opportunity to meet the challenges positively.