So, you know there is a bid coming up for some work you really want to win – here are five tips to help you plan for the bid writing process. If you do this preparation beforehand you have much more chance of winning the bid and making the bid writing process a lot shorter.

Tip 1 – get your finances organised

Firstly most PQQs will ask for some financial information – usually two-to-three years accounts. If you haven’t been going that long, you could provide a cash flow forecast, management accounts, a statement from your accountant, or a bank reference. Essentially, potential customers want to make sure that you are financially secure and will be around long enough to fulfil the contract.

Connected to your financial position, you should also consider what is called the 20% rule. This states that generally you shouldn’t expect to win a bid that is worth more than 20% of your turnover. There are good reasons for this – you may not have the infrastructure to cope with the new contract, it could lead to cash flow problems, or there is a risk that your current projects could suffer. One way to get around this is to bid as part of a consortium, taking care that whoever you hook up with can add value to the service you are offering.

Tip 2 – Make sure you have the right insurance

Secondly, there are a number of insurances that you must include in your tender writing. These are:
  • Public Liability
  • Employer’s Liability
  • Professional Indemnity
Don’t forget – if you are bidding as a consortium ‘Joint and Several Liability’ may be something you can offer to reduce risk for the procurement managers.

Tip 3 – Do you have the right policies written

Thirdly you will need to have some policies in place. Make sure these policies showcase your business.  For example, does your corporate responsibility document tell the story of all the good activities your business supports.  The following are usually a requirement when writing a bid:
  • Health & Safety Policy (even if you have less than five staff)
  • Equal Opportunities Policy
  • Quality Management Statement (QMS)
  • Environmental Policy
  • Confirmation that you are registered for Data Protection
Then there are other policies which may be requested depending on the type of product or service you provide:
  • Ethical Sourcing and Sustainability Policy
  • Sub-contracting Policy
  • Recruitment Policy
  • Business Continuity (or Disaster Recovery) Plan

Tip 4 – Do you have references and case studies?

Tip four is to source and have ready suitable references and case studies to prove your credentials.  Case studies used in the bid writing process will basically describe a similar service you offered to another customer and the benefits they derived from it – they do not necessarily include customer contact details. Understand the difference between references and testimonials. Basically a reference includes specific details of the work carried out and how much it was worth together with the contact details of a referee in the customer’s organisation.  A testimonial is an unsolicited written comment from a satisfied client. For example, “Write to Win provided a very successful bid writing training course and tender writing service which enabled us to win the bid – FB, Service International“.

Tip 5 – Do you have the resources?  Check before you start.

Lastly remember that a tender can be a real commitment both financially and in terms of management time.  You must be willing to allocate resource to the bid process which could potentially include a PQQ, Bid and Presentation.  The whole process could take many man-days of hard work and possibly the direct cost of preparing drawings, printing and binding your offer, delivery by courier and travelling to give a presentation. Don’t forget that a bid document is a binding contract and you will be expected to fulfil the terms of the contract regarding delivery of your product or service – whilst not forgetting your existing clients…….