Preparing a bid or proposal response can be a hugely time-consuming, daunting task and is likely to involve numerous content contributors from the core bid team to subject matter experts from across different departments.
And just to add to all that mayhem, more often than not, they need to be produced in high-pressure situations where time is not in abundance.
In recent years, procurement timeframes are becoming shorter whilst documentation and requirements are becoming much more detailed and complex.
We have moved away from simple ‘yes/no’ responses to more complex method statement quality questions where buyers are seeking to find out more about the buyers’ approach and way of working.
When it comes to writing bids, bid libraries are a great way to save time and effort when writing responses and eliminate the need to start from scratch with every tender you write.
They are also a great way of managing and controlling the quality and accuracy of information being sent to potential buyers.
Creating your Bid Library
You may now be thinking, where do I even begin to start with setting up a bid library? Or what content should be included in bid library?
Well, a good place to start would be to audit your previous tenders, look at the types of questions you have previously been asked, the responses you submitted and what has been successful in the past.
Don’t worry if you have never written a bid before, you can visit tender sites and start collecting examples from there to give you an idea of what is required.
This will give you a great starting point in how to structure your bid library and identify the key topics and content you need to have in your library readily available.
Based on the typical questions asked as part of nearly every tender, we would recommend keeping the following information in your bid library as a starting point:
Standard Company Information
This can often be referred to as the ‘boilerplate’ information about your company and is generally required at the Selection Questionnaire (SQ) stage. All SQs are pretty much the same.
They require you to submit the same information time and time again, so storing this in a central location should be the first step in creating your bid library.
Collateral you should consider storing for this include:
- Company registration number
- VAT number
- DUNS number (if applicable)
- Registered address
- Person of Significant Control (PSC) (if applicable)
- Parent company details
The last two or three years of business accounts are nearly always asked for in tenders.
This allows the buyer to establish how financially stable your business is before awarding you a contract. Don’t worry if you’re a small business, as you will not be required to submit audited accounts; instead, you may need to evidence your turnover, profit and loss, assets and liabilities etc.
Having all this readily available in a central folder will speed up your bid process, but be sure to update this folder as and when updated financial collateral is available.
Insurance details and certificates are another thing that crop up time and time again and should be stored within your bid library.
You will need to monitor their expiration dates and replace them as soon as you receive updated versions.
You don’t want to end up in a situation where you’re pushed for time with a tender submission only to find out that the insurance documents in your library have expired.
Testimonials & references
Again, pretty much all tenders will require you to submit references covering similar work undertaken.
It is best practice to have numerous references/testimonials on file, not just the three that are usually requested.
This is because you will need to ensure the references/testimonials you submit for each tender cover similar work to what you will be providing should you win the contract.
Make sure all aspects of the goods or services you provide are covered, and ensure the named contacts are happy to be contacted by potential buyers.
You may even wish to give the referee’s a heads-up about a tender you have used their name in to let them know they may be contacted in due course.
Testimonials are a good source of evidence for bids, so, if possible, obtain these from your clients and use them throughout your submission.
Policies and Procedures
It is not uncommon for tenders to require copies of your policies or procedures to be uploaded as part of your submission, so we recommend having a folder on your bid library containing these so they are readily available should they be needed.
This is also a great opportunity for you to review your current policies/procedures and ensure they comply with the latest legislation, guidance and best practice.
Most policies/procedures need to be checked or updated every 12 months.
Accreditations are also commonly requested within tender submissions.
Keep details of your industry-specific accreditations, qualifications and certificates up to date and in your bid library.
These could be either for the business as a whole, for example, ISO accreditations or for individual members of your staff that may be commonly requested in your tender submissions.
Staff CVs / Biographies & Overviews
Many bids ask for details of the staff who will be managing or working on the contract.
It is a good idea to have these on file ready to include to avoid any last-minute panics where you’re relying on other members of staff to provide collateral in order to submit.
A great way of obtaining these biographies is to have a quick call where you ‘interview’ every member of staff to find out their previous experience.
Buyers want to see why your proposed team are the best people for the contract. Bear in mind these may need tweaking between different bids depending on the focus of the bid, but having a generic biography for each staff member will massively speed the process up.
It may also be worth creating a simple CV template and asking staff to complete it, this will then provide you with a wealth of content, and you will be able to pick and choose the experience that best suits the opportunity you are tendering for.
Quality responses and method statements form a large part of any tender response and, therefore, should make up a large proportion of your bid library.
Whilst questions will vary from tender to tender, there will be similarities between the questions, and they will cover similar topics.
As part of your bid library, is it advised that you audit previous tenders to see what questions were asked, how your responses were scored, and any feedback you received.
From this, you will be able to form a best practice response to store on your bid library ready your for your next submission.
From our experience, writing a response to a new question is a lot easier if you have a starting point and something to build on.
As your bid library grows, you may find you need some sort of indexing system. However, to begin with, simply using appropriately named folders and search facilities will be more than adequate.
A good bid library is always live, it will never be 100% complete!
You will need to continually update and strengthen your responses and add new content as you write more and more tenders.
Your quality questions will improve over time as you incorporate feedback from buyers, learn lessons from past responses and build better ones.
If you receive feedback on a response that you have already included in your bid library, it is a great idea to upload the feedback with the response so you can incorporate the feedback in future submissions.
It is also a good idea to also keep a copy of any additional information used in bid submissions, such as reports, images, flow diagrams, evidence of KPIs, SLAs, plans etc.
If one buyer asks for these, the chances are high that another buyer will also ask for them.
Therefore, having them to hand on your bid library will speed up your process.
The above is a basic guide to the types of content to include within your bid library.
However, there may be more folders you wish to include based on the bids you have submitted.
Ultimately, the more content you have saved on your bid library, the quicker your bid writing process will become.
Need help with bidding or setting up your bid library?
We understand that not everyone has the time, resource or experience to create a bid library.
Here at BWS we will be able to support you with your bid library creation and ultimately bid success!