How to Run Tender Planning Meetings
Bidding for high value tenders is a complex and often difficult task so always be selective. The previous post Bid Managers and Bid Teams explained the importance of teamwork. Tender planning meetings are a vital part of every bid manager’s tool kit. They are the mechanism that pulls together and co-ordinates the bid team to ensure you get the best results.
I’ve broken down the key elements of running tender planning meetings as follows:
Make sure that, as bid manager, you are totally prepared for tender planning meetings. Good preparation will help you get the most out of the meeting and the bid team:
- Which people will make up the best team to win the bid
- Read the documents (twice) – try to understand all the requirements of the bid and identify any areas of uncertainty
- Start thinking about project management, deadlines, what will win the bid and what you need from the team
100% Bid Team Attendance
Everyone in the bid team should attend. (The exceptions being external support like the bank.) If individuals don’t show up it creates extra work briefing them. Or they they might not understand the tender. This is the start of getting 100% buy-in from the team. Anyone not attending is not demonstrating commitment to winning the tender. They might let you down during the tendering process.
Tender Briefing Document
Consider writing a briefing document. It can make it easier for the team to understand the tender and what you want from each of them. Not all of the support team may need to know about every single part of the tender/PQQ (e.g. H&S might only be responding to health & safety questions). So consider giving individuals only what they need for their part of the tender. Making people’s tasks less daunting helps seal their commitment.
Bid Structure Outline
Map out and agree upon the bid structure. It might be dictated by the customer but if not, consider the best way to respond and sell your company. Formal tenders with a specified format normally have set questions. Discuss and agree the response structure and content for each question.
Have an open debate on what will win the bid? Consider the pros and cons of your company and the competition. Brainstorm how you will:
- Demonstrate meeting / exceeding tender requirements
- Add value
- Save money
- Continuously improve
Consider using an Alternative Bid. It can help differentiate your tender submission.
Roles Responsibilities Outputs
Once you have agreed upon your bid structure and proposed solution, allocate and agree responsibilities and outputs. For example, Procurement obtains cost-prices; HR answers questions on pay and benefits.
Teamwork helps improve your chances of winning tenders. So do look at how to split the work fairly. Sharing tasks not only reduces the burden on individuals, collaboration helps to drive creativity. Remember: two heads are better than one.
Like any team, it is important that everyone agrees on what the team’s goal is. 100% buy-in is vital to ensuring that everything is done correctly and on time.
The bid manager should set out a time-line for each task. The aim is to have the tender completed a few days before the tender deadline. This provides some contingency in case you run into any difficulties. Then work backwards, agreeing individual tasks and deadlines e.g. cost-prices ready 7 days before the final deadline. It is the bid manager’s job to project manage and progress chase. That job becomes easier with 100% buy-in.
Plan Future Bid Team Meetings
It will be necessary for the key bid team to meet more than once to agree pricing, wording of answers etc. Set and agree dates for future tender planning meetings at the first bid meeting.
Future tender planning meetings should follow the same route as described above.
Tender planning meetings really do help! They improve teamwork and creativity. They enable sharing of the workload. They also support agreed structures and time-frames.
The content of tender planning meetings will vary depending on each specific PQQ, tender or bid. But the principles laid out here provide solid foundations for successful tendering.
Do you hold tender planning meetings? If so, how do you approach them?