Are you planning effectively?
How to ensure you submit on time
Tender Managers, who needs one? Well, the upshot is, most commercial organisations probably do.
Planning your bids and tenders effectively can come naturally to some. However, for those who struggle with knowing where to start, this blog will be a good starting point. Bid and tender management is tricky enough in itself without throwing planning into the mix. But planning must always be done to ensure a concise and cohesive proposal.
Many organisations make the mistake of bidding for multiple contracts for works at the same time, without taking the time to understand and digest the requirements of each bid individually. This leads to what we call “A scattershot approach.” In plain terms – shooting enough bullets and hoping you hit the target. And, as any marksman will tell you, this rarely works.
Indeed, taking the time to organise your bid submissions, understanding the requirements of each and staying on top of crucial requirements and dates is vital. Small errors, missed details and late submissions will cost you dearly. Hence, tender management is crucial – especially when bidding for multiple pieces of work at the same time.
If you’ve started writing bids in the past and left the office feeling unsure or that you haven’t accomplished anything significant, now’s the time to start planning your bid and tender management approach.
It’s really easy to feel like your workday is out of control. You may have endlessly long meetings, interruptions or urgent last-minute tasks. This means you can technically be busy all day without actually starting what you set out to do.
We all want to make progress on high-priority tasks, which is why it’s really important to plan effectively. In this blog, we’ll cover the steps you’ll need to do this, ensuring you leave enough time in your workday to accomplish your necessary tasks.
Below we have outlined some of our top tips for tender management for commercial services to ensure you always stay on track:
The importance of a bid plan
When you’re starting a new project, such as a bid or tender, always remember that scheduling your activity over the duration of this task will help you achieve your goals. It will also outline your priorities and a timeline, ensuring you’ve planned in enough time to complete the work effectively.
When you’ve planned properly, it will help you:
Understand what you can achieve, realistically.
Make sure you have enough time daily to schedule this in.
Add in some contingency or ‘extra’ time for anything unexpected that may crop up!
Work steadily, not rushing important elements.
Avoid overloading yourself, which can only leave you feeling stressed out!
With bid or tender management, it’s always good to create a solid plan for yourself. Planning effectively at the start of a project is so important.
In a bid plan you should include:
The all-important deadline
What you’ll need to do before the deadline
Define what information you need to gather
Any other important dates, such as site visits, clarification deadlines etc.
Proofreading dates, and schedule this in before the deadline
Design dates – if the bid your writing doesn’t come with a pre-prepared document, you may need to factor in design time to make sure you’re presenting a polished proposal.
Here at Hudson, we provide a bid plan for every tender our clients wish to go for. We do this because we’ve seen how effectively client’s turnaround information we need (often in tight timescales) to be able to write winning bids for them. Time management is crucial to bid and tender management, and once you’ve mastered this, the rest should follow with ease.
Schedule your time!
Always read the tender timetable carefully, this will enable you to start managing the workload and planning effectively. Ensure you make a note of key milestones such as clarification deadlines and site visits. Perhaps set up alerts in your calendar prior to these events to allow you to ask final questions or book in for a site visit on time. This way, you won’t miss the chance to gain crucial information that might affect your bid. Moreover, knowing your deadlines will allow you to plan your work around submitting well in advance. This way there won’t be a last minute rush to send your responses which may then be at the mercy of either the postal system or a portal with limited upload capabilities.
Submitting on time, often before the deadline is always at the back of a bid writer’s mind. All your work points towards one final day when the work must be submitted. So, what should you do to ensure that deadline day doesn’t turn out to be a stressful one? Schedule your time.
Now, we understand, as well as writing winning bids and managing tenders that you may have other tasks to complete, all with their own deadlines. However, using this method of time management will enable you to structure your workload for ALL your responsibilities. Bear in mind the below before starting to schedule out your time:
Set a regular time to schedule in your days. Some people prefer first thing in the morning or week, and some prefer last thing at night, ready for the next day
Methods vary on the person: make a list; set reminders in your calendar; get your hands on a weekly planner; download a scheduling app etc.
Follow these easy tender and bid management steps:
Step 1 – Understand your available time
Start out by understanding how much time you realistically have in a day and really think about how long tasks will take you. You don’t want to underestimate how long you might need!
Step 2 – Schedule by priority
Make sure you’re doing tasks with the closest deadlines FIRST – this will ensure you complete them on time and you’re not completing tasks that can wait sooner. Also, factor in time for dealing with people management, personal issues and any potential training.
Step 3 – Schedule in contingency time
Especially during bid or tender management, contingency time is essential. This extra time will allow for any last-minute changes or additions from your client and will ensure you have enough time to implement these before submission. Experience will tell you how much extra time to allow. For some people it may be 2 hours, for others it might be 2 days!
Step 4 – Analyse your work pattern
Once you’ve completed the above steps, make sure you analyse how you managed. This is an important step and not one to be forgotten! Look over what you did well and what you can improve on for next time. This is great for personal development and really shows you think about your approach.
The risks of poor planning
Without a plan, you’re hoping. Hope, although it may bring good things, it’s not the best when you’re working towards stringent deadlines. Poor planning can often trip you up later down the line as things may crop up that you hadn’t previously thought of. Although we can’t predict everything when you plan you will have more time to factor in any urgencies.
The worst thing you can do is to not plan at all. You don’t want to hope you’ve understood something. This could be the yes or no factor when someone’s scoring your bid response. If you’ve misunderstood, you want to ensure you have time to fix it, rather than submit something that doesn’t match the requirements.
Assess the requirements of a tender
Diligent tender management for commercial services includes digesting and understanding the requirements of a bid in detail, prior to embarking on work. Indeed, looking for small details that might prevent you from going for a tender such as minimum turnover thresholds, TUPE information, staff pension requirements, might save you wasting time, money and resources on writing bids, which ultimately you won’t be able or willing to deliver. Yes, this might involve combing through several lengthy documents, but this is still the best, most efficient, and really only way to ensure you are able and willing to deliver a piece of work, prior to bidding for it.
It is easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of work involved in a tender. From digging out and uploading certificates of accreditation, to sourcing references, to answering extended questions, the list can seem endless. But remember that a key part of efficient tender management for commercial services involves a recognition of your team’s strengths. If you have a member of your management team dedicated to looking after Health and Safety, then it might be wisest to send questions on your internal health and safety processes, risk assessment and safe working methods statements, to them. By assigning works this way, you will get the most relevant and effective content for your bid. Moreover, this will prevent the inevitable exhaustion and subsequent mistakes that might arise from laying the responsibility of a tender solely at one person’s door.
Here at Hudson Succeed, we work collaboratively. Indeed, we pool our skills, knowledge, resources and experience gained from the diverse backgrounds of our team, to create the best possible content for our clients. Whilst working with Hudsons will allow you the benefit of a dedicated point of contact, our whole team are able to contribute to your bids if necessary to ensure that we take maximum advantage of the individual skills, knowledge and experience of all of our team.
Good tender management for commercial services involves asking questions if you’re not sure. It might sound pretty simple, but you’d be surprised at the number of bidders who leave things to chance. It goes without saying that public (and private) sector buyers are not necessarily wordsmiths. Some of the documentation can be ambiguous and a little unhelpful. So, the moral is, if you’re not sure, ask! Indeed, it is not uncommon for buyers to release Invitations to Tender which contain mistakes and even conflicting information. Just remember to be specific and precise in your question, remain professional at all times, and remember that all prospective suppliers will be able to see your question and the buyer’s subsequent answer.
For more helpful tips on how clarifications play a central role in tender management for commercial services Check out our Tender VLE video on the importance of asking clarification questions.
Effective tender management for commercial services involves a whole lot of proofreading. We have heard countless horror stories from clients who have accidentally provided incorrect information, made spelling errors, or answered a question incorrectly? And why? A lack of proofreading.
Proofreading requires time, precision and attention. It might be painful, but you will be thankful for the care, time and attention you have given when you pick up on the small errors in grammar, punctuation, coherency and accuracy that might otherwise cost you serious marks in the evaluation. In all likelihood, you simply won’t spot these if you’re rushing to meet a deadline and simply skimming over the work.
Hence, another key part of the due diligence process in effective tender management for commercial services involves not leave reviewing and proofreading work to the last minute and always allow for a few rounds of drafting. Indeed, always get other people to review your work and lend a hand to review theirs!
Check out our Tender VLE video on the importance of proofreading for more information.
Submitting your bid on time
The nail-biting part. Submission.
It’s what you’ve been working for these past few weeks. Make sure you’ve double-checked the deadline time and date. Some tenders are due at 12 pm, 5 pm or even midnight! No matter the time, make sure you’ve planned your time BEFORE this. For example, if your bid is due in at 12 pm, make sure by 11 am you have everything in order to upload early. Some bid writers like to submit the day before, to ensure peace of mind. This is completely up to your discretion. Some people prefer different methods of working, and that’s absolutely fine.
When it comes to the actual tender submission, make sure all tender documents are in order in a ‘Submission’ folder, so you’re not chasing files around your server. This way, everything is in one place and you can tick off one by one when you’ve uploaded each document really easily.
When it comes to bid and tender management, submission can either be the release you’re looking for or the most nerve-wracking moment. Make sure it’s not too overwhelming by getting a good, effective plan in place from day 1 on the bid.
Further bid and tender management information
We understand tender management can be difficult, time-consuming and resource-draining – so let us take the hard work off you! If your business has ongoing tender requirements and you want to fully outsource your bid management to ensure that a steady stream of new business is generated and that work is completed in good time, without key information being missed, then Tender Manager is the right choice for you.
One way to gain more knowledge about bid and tender management, head on over to Tender VLE. Our site is a free virtual learning environment, designed for those who may not be familiar with the tender process! Our videos are simple, straight forward and only a few minutes long, but are packed with information that is delivered to you by our own consultants.
You can get in touch easily giving us a quick call or dropping an email to discuss your needs. We’re always available to talk about any of our services, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
To see how we can help your business grow through tendering, visit our homepage.
For more information, or to speak to a consultant, please visit our website.