The very first step in responding to a tender is to identify the key points you need to address in the Request for Tender (RFT). Let me share with you how a colleague and I did this on a major RFT recently. It’s a little like a game plan we hear so much about in sports these days.
Draft your game plan
No team just runs onto the field and says “Okay, we’re here. Let’s play”. Instead, they begin by analysing their opposition as a whole (the RFT) and then working out how to handle the key players (address the assessment criteria). During the post-match interview they will usually then say things like “we won because we stuck to our game plan, controlled the ball and neutralised their playmakers”. This is what my colleague and I did – we developed and stuck to our game plan.
Identifying the Win Themes
The first thing we looked for in the RFT was what is commonly called the Win Themes. Once we had done this we created a table with Win Themes as the heading for the first column and Ways to Exploit for the second column. We then went through the RFT and identified the key messages that kept flashing “Important” on our internal radar.
Analysing the key players
Once we had identified the win themes and messages we turned our attention to the assessment criteria (the opposition’s game breakers). The assessment criteria are the keys to success. We unpacked each criterion and put the key terms in one list and then brainstormed our potential responses in another list.
It’s a bit like working out how to counter the opposition’s key moves such as “always steps off the right foot or fakes first, before throwing for the basket” After we finished this little exercise we had a strong game plan for a very competitive tender.
Avoiding the 40-0 scoreboard
Developing a game plan requires some upfront investment in time. This can be somewhat difficult when your head is focused on other tasks and you’re not yet fully engaged with the RFT. However, if you get your thinking clear from the outset, you will work much more efficiently over the life of the project and avoid costly oversights.
Outline your game plan and stick to it if you want to maximise your chance of winning. If you don’t you may never nail the opposition’s star players and be left with a 40 -0 scoreboard, feeling very sorry for yourself and wondering why the hell you play this game.