Donna Neely

NW in 2018 | Bidding wars

Over the past 12 months, bid questions have become clearer, word counts have been cut and submitting lengthy appendices is now frowned upon, writes Donna Neely of The Northern Edge.

Quality over quantity has become more important than ever and we see this continuing into 2018. With this will come more online portal submissions as procurement teams simplify and streamline the tender process.

Whilst based on positive intentions, the restrictions these portals place on tenders could become a problem. Bidders are expected to provide fairly complex information within restricted word counts and formatting guidelines.

This forces them to be very clear and concise in their response, which is a great result, but bidders should also be allowed some creative license. Unless there is a balance between submission guidelines and the opportunity to provide unique, quality content, bidders may look for new ways to stand out.

With video now one of the most powerful and commonly used sales tools, it would make sense for it to creep into the world of procurement. Current submission restrictions mean it can be challenging to communicate and differentiate your offer and a video link, as part of your response, could be the answer.

A good quality video can be very persuasive and can tell more in a couple of seconds than a word submission can do in two pages. Whilst I wouldn’t suggest using general corporate videos, bespoke content can be really engaging, such as explainers which outline how you understand the client and what your winning solution is, video testimonials, project case studies or demonstrations of an innovative product or system you intend to use.

Data can provide procurement teams with evidence of best value so showing how you will provide or use data when delivering the contract will be welcome in 2018. A strong bid narrative will always be important but quantitative data and analysis will start to set bidders apart. Data can relate to your commitments around social value, key performance indicators, spend and cost analysis and supply chain performance.

The key will be to not only make commitments, but to show how the data will be monitored, gathered, analysed, evaluated and reported to provide the client with evidence of your and their impact. Real-time, transparent data which can be accessed through shared, cloud platforms will also be attractive to clients.

Evidence of technical skills, qualifications and experience is fairly typical in bids, but as team profiling becomes more common we may start to see personality profiles or EQ (emotional intelligence) scores form part of the tendering process. These tools are used to determine behaviours, communication preferences and working styles; all important factors to consider when trying to create a high performing team. Including these in a tender will help the client to identify the most appropriate people to supplement and complement their in-house team, particularly where they are procuring a partnership arrangement or where a co-located delivery team will be established. Profiles also provide clear, quantitative data which lends itself to public sector procurement scoring frameworks.

With construction the largest sector in public procurement over the last two years and £309m of construction frameworks and contracts due to expire in 2018, there are many opportunities to bid for work. However standing out when the tendering process is moving towards a more prescriptive framework will need creativity and new ways of presenting information.

  • Donna Neely is director of The Northern Edge Consultancy

The North West in 2018 series features guest contributors looking ahead to next year and is published throughout December.

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