How many times have you had to tackle a large and complex tender on your own? Did you end up tired and worse for wear? Was it a bit like hunting beasts of old to feed your tribe (staff) – too much potential sustenance to let pass but too big to handle on your own. When you found yourself wishing for some help, what skills would you like your hunting party to bring?
The size of your bid team depends on the scale of the project and the resources you have available. In large companies working on multimillion dollar tenders the bid team can number up to eight people or more, each with a specific responsibility. Typically this involves a core group from business development or marketing who constantly work on tenders with assistance from a range of technical experts as required. Sometimes large companies have a series of small teams working on different sections and then bring it all together into the final proposal.
Medium to Small Pack
In smaller companies the bid development role may be just another task the management team takes on board and everyone just works harder for a few weeks. Unfortunately the opportunity cost with this approach is that their normal jobs invariably suffer. For micro businesses the bid team can be just one person who has the job of developing the tender from start to finish.
Meet the Pack
Regardless of company size there are a number of core functions that have to be done – whether you are one or many.
- Project leader – This member needs experience in tendering because they have to interpret the RFT and set direction for the tender response. They may also be the main point of contact with the government client.
- Writer – This role calls for a generalist who can be a link between the specific task of writing the tender and understanding the daily operations of the business. They need both keen writing skills and good communication skills to liaise with the technical specialists and get the best out of them for the tender.
- Reviewer – When developing a tender response there is a very real risk that you become over familiar with your work and/or blinded by your own magnificence. A reviewer can ensure you have not missed anything and ask the hard but obvious questions you might have overlooked. Objectivity and experience in developing tenders are key elements in this role.
- Support – This member of the hunting party works mainly with the writer and needs excellent coordination skills to keep the others on task and to pull their contributions together. It helps if they also have effective research skills for locating and collating material. Formatting abilities are also extremely helpful.
- Pricing – This role requires a commercial bent. They need to be able to dismantle a project and have a keen appreciation of the cost structure of the business and how it can make a profit. It is easy to get caught up in solutions that are technically excellent but are unreliable and trigger hefty penalties when service level targets are missed.
If you have the resources you can pull this team together. If you don’t, then at least you know what the different hats are that you need to wear. In some ways a government tender, especially a large and complex one, can be like one of the prehistoric mammoths; bigger than any one hunter can manage. So, just like our ancestors you need to hunt as a pack in order to bring them down otherwise your tribe may well go hungry.