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.

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