Painless Bid Management Using Online Collaborationon 13 January 2017
Bids and tenders are perceived as exciting opportunities by Business Development and Sales Professionals but actually represent a huge investment in time and effort, when realistically there’s only a small chance of success. After all, there can only be one winner, which isn’t great odds when you consider how many of your competitors may be involved.
If you’re using information from a variety of different sources, you will know that extracting the relevant information and pulling these into a bid can be time consuming, frustrating and expensive. Unless, that is, you have them all in one place, electronically accessible in the same format. This is where online collaboration becomes a ‘game changer’.
Effective collaboration on a bid means getting everyone pulling together, having access to the latest, most relevant information and working quickly, effectively, and securely. Here are the key factors that need to be considered to deliver a successful bid with the minimum of effort.
Time is of the essence
You’ve probably had the experience of being asked to pull a bid together, and finding yourself cutting and pasting late into the night right before the bid is due to be submitted. It all started well, with meetings about what information was required, what approach you would like to take, and who should be involved. Then suddenly you realise you have run out of time.
When you start to prepare an RFP (Request For Proposal) or ITT (Invitation To Tender), you need to act quickly. There is often a short deadline. You usually have to assemble a wide variety of information. Being able to get off the starting block and into action quickly may depend on how ready your processes and information are.
Most bids have a short deadline, so the ability to track what people are supposed to be doing, and when, is essential. Even with only two or three people working on a bid, it makes sense to track tasks so nothing gets forgotten or left to the last minute.
The great thing about using software tools is their ability to track time and tasks automatically. They improve organization and workflow efficiency. They also make information about progress available to anyone who needs to know, whether inside or outside of the bid team. When these tools are web based, they have the added benefit of being available any place, anywhere, anytime.
Other tools like version control, common calendars, and shared folders will also help to ensure everyone is clear about the status of all parts of the bid process.
For the creative side of bids where you need to pull in Gerry the Genius for a bit of brainstorming, online tools like Glasscubes have electronic whiteboards. This means Gerry does not even need to be in the same office, saving time and cost. Once you have won the bid, you then also have those notes to remind you how you proposed to deliver in detail.
Bids often follow a repeatable path, so once you have defined the tasks for one bid, you have a ready-made template for future bids.
You will want to involve your best people to give you the best chance of success. This is often the difference between success, and coming second. Make sure they have easy access to good quality information. They will need easy access to the tools, so a user-friendly interface is a must. This also means having all of your latest information in one place – documents, videos, notes etc. with a good structure to make it easily accessible.
This will give you the best chance to make a high quality, and winning bid.
Careless talk risks bids.
This could be something as innocent as an email sent inadvertently to the wrong person. Or it could be information accidentally shared with other people in your organisation; people who do not understand the implications of sharing bid data with their contacts outside your organisation. If you use file sharing platforms like Drop Box or Google Drive, these are open to competitive hacking (and do not have many other features needed for bids). Even an Intranet may not be sufficiently secure. You do not want your competitors to have the advantage of knowing what you are planning, seeing your draft bid or supporting information before you are ready to share it.
For some bids, you may be required to give assurance that your information systems comply with the latest security, data protection, and access protocols. Not all systems do this.
Even if you are not required to have an audit trail for compliance purposes, it is accepted as good practice. A good audit trail is important both for internal management confidence in your bidding process and for any compliance requirements. A good online solution should, if well implemented, automatically create an audit trail to make it easy to manage and refer back.
Glasscubes is a cost effective, easy to use, and secure collaboration tool for any organisation. Find out more about how it could help you take control of your knowledge +44 (0)20 3274 2310.
“Glasscubes works well for our bid teams, which have both internal and external teams. Browser-based access with no need to download software makes it easy for team members to use home computers at weekends and evenings. Version control works well and the page layout is clean and easy to use. The Glasscubes team have been very helpful in explaining how things work and promptly resolving any issues. The ability to have conversations with team members that are then kept as a thread associated with particular documents is useful. Complete control over the file structure in each workspace and flexibility about who to invite to it is also useful for bidding. I look forward to working on bids where we use Glasscubes.”
OONAGH HERON Consultant