Monday, 28 April 2008

Hints and tips for writing winning proposals

First, remember that whoever is doing this probably has a lot of bids to read – and a day job to go back to.

1. Be concise – buyers don’t want to have to wade through 2 inches of paper
2. Answer the question – the one asked, not the one you want to answer, or feel they should have asked
a. If you want to answer those as well, but always answer the question as asked
b. If the ITT asks for a day rate give a day rate, not an hourly rate
3. Be clear
4. Don’t be fussy or too ornate
5. Give information in the requested format
6. If you have an alternative proposal include it as well as the requested proposal not instead
7. Include all the documentation requested
8. Look at the scoring mechanism – it will remind you what is important
9. Don’t be afraid to repeat information in different sectons
a. Sometimes proposals are split up, and it makes it easier to read if the information is repeated rather than being told to “see section 10) – remember a happy marker is your friend
10. Don’t let the proposal look like it is a proforma or knocked off by the office junior in their lunchhour
a. Good quality paper, glossy covers help – origami does not

Remember that the buying team can either evaluate bids or answer your questions about when the process will be complete – not both

Running a Tender Evaluation Process

As I gear up for part 2 of the tender evaluation process, I thought it might be helpful to summarise some of the things that the process has taught me or reminded me about;

For Buyers
1. think about how you will score bids when you write the ITT
- it will save time and help to ensure that you get information in comparable formats
2. Leave sufficient time to evaluate the submissions
a. It can take a long time to do justice to a submission, maybe an average of an hour per submission. Make sure that bidders are aware that the process will take time
3. Only mark what is in the proposal
a. Tempting as it is when an existing supplier does not do themselves justice the only fair thing to do is mark them on what they write – other bidders might also be underselling themselves
4. Specify how you want the pricing information
a. Day rate or hourly rate, and what levels or job titles – these can vary a lot between suppliers, so is better that they work out how their fits your requirements than you spend ages trying to work out whether an Executive is senior or junior to an account manager
5. Be clear about what you actually want and what is important – how you will distinguish between bids
6. Score the bids the way you said you would –
a. Which requires thinking about it first, so that you don’t give equal marks to a company with good policies, but no quality of work, and a brilliant supplier who forgot to include their environmental policy
7. Be clear about the financial critieria
a. Do SMES and new starts really stand a chance?
8. The people who write the ITT should be the people who mark the bids (or at least part of the team)
9. Remember that you can get jaded evaluating bids
a. Leave a day a week for other work
b. Consider taking an hourly break on a 48/12 minute cycle
10. Your idea of a good bid can change as you read more bids
a. Consider going back and rescoring the first couple of submissions again to ensure that scoring is consistent
b. Don’t always start with the same bid when evaluating muitiple submissions- move through the alphabet, or order of receipt
11. If something is not included in the submission or not clear you can ask for further information – as long as all bidders get the same opportunity

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Current projects

This week Paul is running a week long Purchasing Negotiations workshop in Dubai. He is contactable after 1pm UK time, thanks to the 3 hour time difference.

At the moment we have a wide range of projects underway - as was highlighted in a communication with a government department. I think it gives a good indication of the scope of things that we tackle.

Current projects we are working on (April/May 08) include;
- mapping the sports industry in Yorkshire, with a particular focus on R&D activities
- developing the 2012 strategy for the UK Resource Centre for Women in Science Engineering and Technology
- Reviewing and auditing the Chemical Innovation Networks Sustainable Manufacturing Project for the Northern Way
- Lecturing in Negotiation in the Middle East
- Gathering output data for UKTI in the North East against ERDF targets (and also for a NW based medical incubator)
- Running a marketing tender process for Business Link NorthWest

Amusingly, on the way out to Dubai I was on the same plane as the Paul Wright who works for Sky - not the first time that we have been confused.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Tender Evaluation

At the moment I am taking a break from a massive tender evaluation programme - 15 lots, and 94 companies bidding for multiple lots. As a process it will take the rest of April.

When I am writing proposals, it is easy to forget what is going to happen to them when they are opened. In particular it is easy to remember how long it takes to write the proposal, and not to think about how long it takes to properly interpret them.

The companies in this process are no doubt eager to know whether they have been successful, and where they can improve if not. They should be reassured that this is being done thoroughly and with all due consideration - but it takes considerable time.

It does remind me though that effort put into presentation is valuable - as is reading the brief, and answering the questions asked. Obvious, but true.
A surprising number of submissions fail those simple tests.

Another reminder, is to think about how you are going to score the tender as you write the ITT. Precisely how will you assesss Quality, value for money or innovation?

Survey of Yorkshire Sports Businesses

We are carrying out a survey of R&D in Sports Businesses in Yorkshire. If you work for one, and would like to take part please click on the link below.

Many thanks

Click Here to take survey