What the election means for tendering

What the election means for tendering

Today is the day that has been on everyones minds since October. It’s election day. And it’s most certainly created a divided kingdom. With more political uncertainty than a lot of people have seen in a lifetime it can be hard to form your own opinion with so much noise coming from every side. Everyone thinks they’re right when in reality, who knows.

However, we aren’t here to give our opinions or try and sway any votes. We’re just here to talk about the facts and what we know best.

How does the election effect tendering?

The election has had an effect on tendering from the very beginning. From the 6th of Novemeber, Purdah came into effect. ‘Purdah’ describes the period of time immediately before elections or referendums when specific restrictions on certain activity are in place. This means that no new public sector contracts can be released during this period. The only contracts that can go forwards are those that are continuations of tenders that have previously been signed off. Some contracts can go out to tender but will not be signed off during this period. This obviously effects all businesses working within the public sector who were looking to put something new out to tender as the election means that that is not possible.

On the bright side, this period of slow business and backed up contracts all comes to an end when the polls close at 10pm on the 12th of December.

Although this may be the beginning of more political division and uncertainty in the country, one thing is for certain. Many new contracts are going to flood in over the coming months.

As the elected party takes power and they start to implement their policies, they will need to put many things out to tender. This will be a stark difference from the slow ‘purdah’ period as contracts that would’ve never been released before the election start to be released. Regardless of whatever party gets into power, this will be the case.

If you would like to take advantage of this period of increased contract notices, we’re more than happy to help. We have a dedicated team who will be happy to assist you. Whether it be with a review, training or writing the entire submission, we’re here to help.

We’ll leave you with this – Keith Ellison said ‘Not voting is not a protest. It is a surrender,’ and we absolutely agree. A lot of people don’t vote because they don’t think it’ll make a difference when in reality our vote is what gives us power over our country’s future. Hopefully this election will bring us closer to stability and get us closer to where we want to be. All we can ask is everyone respects each others decisions and stands together regardless of the outcome so that we can move forward united rather than divided.

Get out there and vote!

Breaking down the Question

Breaking down the Question

As a market leading Bid Writing Consultancy we have developed a clear understanding of how to approach all types of tender, including those in the Health and Social Care sector. For an individual unfamiliar with bidding, the lack of experience can sometimes drive them to overlook what the contracting authority wants, confusing it with what they think they want.

Regardless of the opportunity, the first step in writing a bid should always be to break the question down. By addressing, in your response, the constituent parts of the question you can ensure there are no gaps in your response and have covered everything the authority want. To demonstrate this, London Borough of Barnet have released an opportunity to join the framework of Approved Providers for the Provision of Home and Community Support. One of the questions can be broken down like this…

“Please describe how you will offer a high-quality service in Barnet, which supports a strengths-based approach to care and maximises resident independence?

Your response should include how you will:

  • Build and deliver a responsive, person-centred, flexible service around the needs of Barnet’s diverse population
  • Proactively support residents to prevent their needs escalating
  • Ensure a timely and reliable service is delivered
  • Overcome key challenges you expect to face, and what your understand of these is
  • Upskill staff to have expertise. You do not need to include details of mandatory training in this section.
  • Work as an organisation to continually improve services and to deliver good outcomes for service user/residents. Please provide an example.”

The word limit for this response is 1000 words and conveniently the authority have listed six key points to cover in the response. To begin with, each of the points should be taken as their own questions and account for approximately 160 words. Some of these questions can be broken down further, for example, the final bullet point becomes:

“How will you work as an organisation to continually improve services? (c80 words)

What are the good outcomes for service users/residents? (c80 words)

Provide an example. (c80 words)”

By breaking down questions in this way, the task of writing a response to a 1000 word question becomes less daunting. Your responses will also become much clearer, which will ensure it will not be marked down for missing key points of information.

If you need any support with the bid writing process, please contact our team of expert bid writers.

Asbestos Bidders invited to Bridgewater

Asbestos Bidders invited to Bridgewater

An interesting opportunity has been published on Friday last week for the removal of asbestos by the Contracting Authority: Homes in Sedgemoor. This authority was set up in April 2007 as an Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO) and now looks over 4,200 properties on behalf of Sedgemoor District Council. Their housing stock includes sheltered accommodation for residents over the age of 50 or for anything that needs any extra care and support from the council to maintain their independence.

The precise service that Homes in Sedgemoor require is the provision of the abatement encapsulation and/or safe removal/ disposal/ transportation/ consignment of all asbestos and/or asbestos containing materials. These materials could be located in individual dwellings, entire blocks of flats, sheltered housing schemes, garage sites, commercial properties, office buildings and potentially any other properties that are owned or managed by the authority.

Only competent persons employed by competent organisations will be authorised to carry out the works, as per the contract documentation. You will need to evidence that you have suitable systems in place to manage competency and only ever assign the right person to do the work that is required. Value for money is a key aspect when tendering to organisations such as this, so examples of where you have previously saved clients money by identifying opportunities for safe encapsulation rather than removal and disposal is also key.

As there are areas which will be the homes of vulnerable adults, one would also expect some emphasis to be placed on this in the tender specification. I wouldn’t be surprised if all employees will have to have enhanced DBS clearances and that you will be able to provide these to the authority prior to any works commencement. Safe systems of work will also be imperative to ensure all risks are minimised, not just for members of staff but also the residents and members of public who will be accessing these buildings.

Both Tim and John in our bid team have worked extensively in the asbestos industry, and know exactly what is required to make a winning tender submission. From Hexham to Wrexham and beyond they have won numerous key construction contracts to help our clients secure sustainable growth. If this sounds like something you may be interested in us helping you to win, feel free to contact us today.

Technical Input Brings out the Best Bids

Technical Input Brings out the Best Bids

Over the last couple of weeks I have written about how bid writing is a skill in its own right and a skill you must properly hone to ensure can write a winning tender submission. I have also written about how important time management is to ensure you submit a compliant and compelling tender response.

Today however, I am writing about the importance of recognising that whilst you may be extremely skilled at writing in a persuasive manner and engaging your reader, there will also be staff members in your organisation that may have more technical insight than you do into the solution you will be offering to your potential client.

Here at Bid and Research Development we recognise this and fully incorporate it into the way in which we work with all our clients. We know where our skills lie, and this is in writing strong, compliant, and compelling tender submissions. We know how to properly dissect a tender specification, and we know what a local authority wants to see when they ask particular questions. We also know that our clients have a detailed understanding of how they work, technical insights and actual service delivery in practise.

This is why we work alongside our clients to draw out the information we know that we need to write a winning tender. We need to know who does what, when, why and how. How is this recorded, what evidence do we have to show this to the would-be client.

Knowing what information the client wants to see, and then gaining this information from Technical Experts is an intrinsic part of bid writing. There may be a wide range of individuals we need to speak to, depending on the nature of the tender, the complexity of the service being tendered for, and the industry that you are in.

We thoroughly enjoy getting to speak to so many different experts on a weekly basis, and get to learn a huge amount about our clients and what truly makes them so great. This can include Registered Care Managers, Health and Safety Managers, or even the Head of Curriculum Development if we are working with some of our education and training providers.

Now, if you are a Technical Expert and you have been handed a tender by your director, you also need to recognise that whilst you may be the very best in your field, you may not actually be the best person to write about it in a tender response. And this is where we can help! We are here to take your tender off of your hands, only ask you the important questions you need to hear, and we can then translate this into strong written narrative which will give you the very best marks once evaluated by the procurement team. Feel free to contact us today for an informal chat on how we can work with your experts to produce the very bid possible.

On yer bike! Best Bids for Bikeability Training.

On yer bike! Best Bids for Bikeability Training.

Its all about process and the proof is in the pudding.

When writing about contract notices we usually stick to the big four industries we usually work on for our wide range of clients, these being Construction, Health and Social Care, Education and Training, and Facilities Management.

However, lets not forget that the award winning bid process we have developed can actually be applied to (just about) any bid, public or private sector. We have worked on a huge range of weird and wonderful bids over the years, from the provision of a workboat through to slurry sealing of footways. Regardless of who we are working with and what we are tendering for and who we are bidding into, the process we adopt is always going to be the same.

That’s because it works. We know we write winning tenders. It doesn’t matter what tender you are struggling with, I guarantee you we can add value to the process.

Which brings me nicely around to this tender opportunity which has been published today! Portsmouth City Council is looking for a single supplier to provide Bikeability training to all primary and secondary schools within its boundaries. This includes levels 1, 2, and 3 training and there will be at least 550 training spaces required in the first year alone.

This is a five-year contract, and the council has put an estimated value of £300,000 over this time. That’s a lot of cycle training!

Price is not the only evaluation criteria, so of course there is going to be a quality submission which needs to be completed to the very best standard. You will be likely competing against all other Bikeability registered providers for this contract, and as it is a single supplier contract, rather than a DPS or framework, the winner takes it all!

Health and safety and risk management will be paramount to evidence within your submission. This contract is for all schools, including SEN schools so if you have any evidence of experience in this area, make sure you evidence this properly where you can in your quality submission. If this contract is too important to miss out on, you may feel that you could even simply benefit from our Guide and Review service to make sure that you are interpreting each question correctly, and that your final draft is: free from error, is compliant with their requirements, and is going to be scoring top marks.

If you want to learn more about this tender, just click here.

If you want some assistance securing this tender, click here.

HS2 Station Tender Released amidst uncertainty from all angles

HS2 Station Tender Released amidst uncertainty from all angles

Despite the huge political ambiguity we are all surrounded by as we plough into December with an election just around the corner, the officials at HS2 are ploughing on with costly tender exercises like there is no tomorrow and as if there is no uncertainty as to the future of the project whatsoever.

The new station in Birmingham has had the tender documentation published with a valuation of around £270 million and this is just weeks after the publication of the The Oakervee review which warned that despite the project is still considered viable, there were several major civil engineering contracts that should really be retendered.

Oakervee has been very critical of the procurement process that has been used so far which he claims has completely misjudged the risk transfer process from contractor to authority and that contractors have hugely inflated their costs to cover risks that they are simply not bearing. The report has been quoted saying HS2 is “carrying most of the risk and all of the pain with little gain”.

Household name major contractors stand accused of lining pockets with taxpayers money and the review states that these contracts should be re-procured to get best value for those who will be footing the bill for the project. It has been revealed in the review that instead of the originally claimed economic benefit of £2.30 back for every £1 spent on this project instead we are looking at only £1.30 to £1.50 – still viable, but the gulf looks like it is being swallowed by not just contractors, but the fact that these procurement processes are costly exercises in themselves.

One must wonder what kind of salary the HS2 officials are taking from all of this as well. The £1.5 tender for overhead power cables and new tracks has been torn up and started afresh, and the Curzon street station has also had to be restarted due to lack of interest shown by the market.

The bid teams at the likes of Skanska/Costain/Strabag; Bouygues/VolkerFitzpatrick/McAlpine; Eiffage/Kier; Balfour Beatty/Vinci; and Mace/Dragados will be thoroughly stretched if they decide to retender these contracts. These tenders are huge undertakings and can often take over 12 months to properly prepare. Thankfully most of the bids we see day-to-day are not such a daunting size, but can still be a stretch to our clients who either do not have the time or skill to complete them to a high standard. Christmas time can also be a challenge for resources so don’t be afraid to drop us a line if you have some January deadlines that you need some expert input on over the festive period.

How to write a successful bid

How to write a successful bid

For an organisation or individual with no previous experience in tender writing, the first course of action when the perfect opportunity arises may be a Google search on how to write a successful bid. Unfortunately, the internet is overloaded with poor or irrelevant information which will usually result in a poor-quality bid which has used a weak template and fixates on things the tenderer hasn’t asked for. There is no one-size-fits-all solution which can be applied to every opportunity. In the Health and Social Care sector it is equally important to ensure you tailor your approach to guarantee you address all aspects of the tender.

A Google search of “how to write a bid” brings up 122,000,000 results. This gives individuals with no previous experience enormous problems of filtering through content to separate misinformation from relevant, valuable information. One point which seems to be brought up consistently in “how to write a bid” pages is that you should try to build professional relationships with the tenderer before you submit a bid. While this may not be appropriate in all cases, when the opportunity arises to engage with the contractor it should be taken.

For example, Croydon Council have tendered a Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) for suppliers to deliver Care and Support in the Home (lot 1), Active Lives and Day Opportunities (Lot 2) and Short-Term Outreach Support (Lot 3). For London-based providers, this opportunity will allow you access to a number of their partners including Croydon Clinical Commissioning Group, NHS Trust Croydon, Croydon HS and SLaM.

All organisations are also invited to attend optional workshops with the Council which provide a walkthrough on how the Selection Questionnaire should be completed. Even if this is not necessary, it is a fantastic opportunity to engage with the Council and build a relationship, which can ultimately prove to be a significant advantage in winning the tender.

These workshops will all be held at Croydon Conference Centre between the 16th and 17th December; more information is available by clicking here.

If you’re unsure about any aspect of this or other tenders, please contact our team of expert bid writers for support.

Time Management skills for winning tender submissions

Time Management skills for winning tender submissions

In my last blog I wrote about the skill of persuasive writing and just how important that is in setting you apart from other tenderers and engaging your reader. If you do not get them enthused in your proposed offering and solution, its difficult for them to justify awarding you top marks.

Today however, I want to stress another skill that is imperative to a successful tender submission, and that is time management. There is no point dedicating days or even weeks of precious resource to a tender if you are not going to submit it on time. Conversely, there is no point attempting a huge tender if you have put it off for weeks and we are now only a few days aware from the deadline; you will rush, make mistakes, miss key points, lack evidence you have not had time to gather and give a very poor reflection of your company to an organisation you want to do business with. Not good!

When you first get ahold of the ITT from the local authority’s procurement you need to assess the Tender Timetable and understand the deadline for raising clarifications as well as the deadline for submission itself. You should also properly understand what the process for submission is. I think the days of hardcopy ringbound submission with CD copies etc. is nearly behind us for SMEs tendering in the public sector, but that doesn’t mean that some of the lovely portals some authorities are geared for a simple submission process. We have had tenders that LITERALLY take hours and hours to submit on certain portals, but we wont name names.

Some councils give minimal instructions and a digital postbox – fine! Some also give you the most comprehensive list of requirements in the land! PDF each response. Label each PDF. Use a specific filename structure eg Company Name – Tender Name – Lot Number – Section Number – Question Number, with each response needing submitting to a different section on the portal. If you do not realise the task that is ahead of you when it comes to submitting your tender return, and you leave it too late, then you run the risk of it being submitted late.

A late submission is technically non-compliant and gives the authority fair reason to exclude you from the process, wasting all the time you put into a potentially winning tender submission. It also creates a poor first impression of your organisation and you will be starting on the back foot if they do decide to evaluate your tender return. It can absolutely be the difference in the evaluation process and it is such an easy mistake to avoid with proper planning and time management.

We recommend never waiting until the deadline day to start submitting your tender return. If you have parts complete, reviewed and ready to go, get them up there on the portal so that you don’t have to worry about them later on. ‘Submit as you go’ so-to-speak. Plan backward from the deadline and set aside proper time to submit and make you know exactly what you need to do to submit a compliant tender return. If you are not sure – ask a clarification question, the procurement team at the authority are there to help and there is (almost) no such thing as a stupid question. Tenders are tricky beasts and time management is an important skill in your arsenal to slay them.

If all of the above seems like an overly onerous task, or you simply do not have the time available to give submitting a tender the attention it deserves, don’t worry because we certainly do! Feel free to get in contact to discuss how we can help you submit high quality submissions in a timely manner maximising your chances of contract award.