Two questions to ask before expecting your technical teams to write winning bid responses
Whilst your bid and business development teams have made a career out of writing or managing bids, it’s possible that your technical staff don’t share their enthusiasm or experience.
A significant part of the evaluation criteria on tenders is allocated to responses such as methodology and, whilst some companies use technical authors, others tell me they assign these to their technical staff with some editing from a bid writer or manager.
Before assigning bid responsibilities to your technical teams, it’s worth considering their experience and motivation for writing a winning response.
Is there a skills gap?
There are many reasons we are attracted to certain careers, and working to our natural abilities is just one of them. Writing bids and being an engineer or surveyor requires a very different set of skills, some of which are learnt and others that are in our make-up.
Before asking your technical staff to write a 1,000-word response on sustainable development, think about whether the person has the ability to and feels comfortable doing it. It’s likely that they are absolutely the best person to deliver the project and can talk about sustainable solutions all day long but putting that into a compelling, winning bid response is a different matter.
Doing something outside our skillset requires support and/or development. If this isn’t provided it’s likely that the employee will put the task off, which can cause delays and be frustrating for both technical and bid teams. Over time this can be damaging for staff relationships and morale.
If there is a skills gap, what can I do?
I mentioned profiling staff in my last post and this is a good example of when it’s useful to know where your employee’s skills lie. If they don’t have a natural writing ability, consider whether you should offer them training, take a different approach to extracting the information from them or find someone better suited to the task. After all, try sending a bid writer out to survey a building without support or training and the results would be questionable.
Is there a will gap?
Whilst some technical staff make brilliant bid writers and enjoy the process, others may not be motivated to do the job well meaning you will never get the results you need. This lack of motivation, or even demotivation, may be the result of many factors. Firstly, technical teams are likely to be working towards their own deadlines, perhaps balancing multiple projects and client demands, so it’s unsurprising that your request isn’t a priority.
Secondly, we are often driven by an innate need for instant results, which means we are naturally motivated by work that brings us immediate benefits and can find it difficult committing to something that won’t be of value until a later date. Bids do not appear to offer technical staff any immediate benefits – no fees or project experience until months or years down the line – so it’s understandable that they are more inclined to invest their time and effort into more immediate projects.
If there is a will gap, what can I do?
Will and motivation increase when your employees feel part of something and are fully engaged in a project. This can be achieved by:
- Effectively communicating your vision and work-winning strategy to all staff (not just those with formal business development responsibilities)
- Sharing your bid pipeline so they know when to expect additional work
- Involving them at the earliest opportunity and inviting them to be part of bid meetings
- Avoiding unrealistic deadlines, where possible, and being respectful of existing workload
- Providing feedback, on all bids, to anyone who contributed, and celebrating their involvement in any wins
If you would like to discuss creating a winning culture, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Bidding has a bad reputation but by focusing on 3Ps - your people, processes and proposition – we can all bid a little smarter and perhaps even enjoy it.