How to get better tender content from your SMEs

Lady Doing Tender Writing eLearning on mobile Internet Device

By Kate Burrows, Managing Director, Tender Training College

One of the biggest challenges of any tender is getting members of the bid team to submit quality and timely content that effectively responds to the question.

Sometimes, the authors/subject matter experts (SMEs) who are charged with writing responses are so busy developing the solution or working on the tender price, they fail to write an adequate response.

There are many risks associated with this, of course. 

My approach to tender submission management has always been to reduce risk wherever possible – regardless of whether it is an $800,000 or an $80,000 bid.

Here are three ways to extract bid-winning content from your authors that I have successfully applied to previous tenders.

1. Early engagement

The evaluators can’t score your company’s approach to a tender when it is in the head of your bid team members!

Early engagement with your SMEs is critical to get them focused and aware of what they need to submit in written form – and by when.

The right time to do this is after they have had the opportunity to thoroughly read the tender, and before the madness of meetings and workshops really sets in.

The best bet is to book a session with each author/SME to:

·     Ensure they understand the question they need to respond to and how best to answer it

·     Identify the evaluation criteria that applies to the question

·     Understand what tender requirements are relevant to their question

·     Discuss the key elements that need to be included in their response.

The result from this early session is a framework for answering the question that can be referred to throughout the bid period.

2. Rigorous draft and review process

The later you begin the tender writing process, the less time is left to develop and refine the content. It also results in gaps, mistakes and inconsistent information – and unnecessary panic.

An effective draft and review process is vital for the development of a quality and mature tender response.

The draft process helps the authors to progressively develop the content in line with their thinking and the feedback from reviewers.

The number of drafts will depend on the length of your bid period. Even the smallest tenders can benefit from two drafts.

It will also make sure the authors keep their answer in mind as they develop their approach, so neither is developed in isolation of the other.    

3. Socialise and integrate

We all appreciate the benefits of socialising – especially in this current COVID environment!

This is also particularly important in the bidding environment – where you need to socialise your response with other members of the bid team to share ideas and align the submission.

For example, it is necessary for an author writing the Workforce Training Plan to understand what training initiatives are listed in the Safety Plan so that both responses are consistent. 

One approach to achieve integration is for individual authors to swap responses at the appropriate time – the more mature the draft, the better the outcome here.

Alternatively, workshops can be held where bid team members present the key elements of their respective approaches. 

One of my clients has a member of their team with an eagle-eye read every response for consistency and integration at the final draft stage. 

This is a very valuable exercise. You don’t want the evaluators to read mixed or conflicting messages across the tender response!

If you would like to know how to implement the above approaches, contact kate@tendertrainingcollege.com.au for more information.

Author: Kate Burrows

Kate Burrows is founder and Managing Director of the Tender Training College. She is passionate about helping people to improve their tendering skills and to secure their futures. Kate has more than 15 years experience in tendering, and has helped clients win more than $25 billion in new business.