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.

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.

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.

Failing to prepare, preparing to fail

Failing to prepare, preparing to fail

Its no simple task writing a winning tender submission, and a lot of work can be done well in advance of the release of a tender submission to ensure that you have ‘all of your ducks in a row’ and you are not scrabbling to create and collate evidence requested in the tender return.

So what can you do to help you prepare for writing a tender submission? We have created a quick checklist of items you can be busy bringing up to standard well in advance of the issuing of the ITT.

Policies and Procedures

Its not enough to simply have a policy in place these days; evaluators will actually open up these documents and read them! Not only do you need to ensure that are legislatively compliant but you need to make sure they reflect best practise and properly showcase your capabilities. Risk assessments and method statements are very important, as local authorities are naturally risk averse and will not want to award responsibility of delivering works or a service on their behalf if you cannot demonstrate you have proper systems in place for managing and mitigating risk.

Evidence Evidence Evidence

I know readers out there must be tired of me singing the importance of evidence when writing a winning tender submission, but it is so important you have it in your arsenal. It was once enough to win contracts on promises alone with nothing to back them up (apart from maybe a handshake on a golf course). With legislation paving the way from transparency in the procurement process the competitiveness when evaluating has reinforced the need to have evidence of capability and competency in place.

If we have two contractors promising the same service level, and one has: KPIs, examples and case studies of where they have delivered it before, with training certificates of staff who will be delivering the service; whereas the other simply promises the world with no cited proof of their ability to do so.. which one do you think the council will choose? Use your time to gather this evidence and have it ready to use throughout your tender return.

Research the authority and opportunity

Not enough is said about researching your potential client, and the opportunity that you wish to pursue. Local authorities have a wealth of information on their values, strategic aims and objectives which you can use to really flavour and tailor your tender return and make it unique to their needs. Clients like to feel special. So you make them feel so by doing your digging and reflect your findings in your quality response.

If you feel that the above is too much of a daunting task, do not be afraid! We are here to help you get yourself ready and we are also expert bid writers ready to take on the process of writing a high quality tender response using all of the above! Feel free to contact us today for a no obligation chat on how we can help you secure your next big public sector contract.

East London Facilities Management Opportunity

East London Facilities Management Opportunity

An interesting tender opportunity has been released this week which we feel would be well suited to an SME looking to get more active in delivering their engineering services to the public sector. From our appraisal of the documentation that has been published on the Bravosolution portal for Ravensbourne University we think that with our expert bid writing experience we are well placed to help someone secure this London based Mechanical and Electrical Engineering contract.

Ravensbourne University, based in East London (near the Isle of Dogs!) is looking to procure £1 Million of Facilities Management Engineering Services including: statutory and planned M&E maintenance, building fabric planned maintenance, remedial repairs and works arising from compliance and Planned Preventative Maintenance activities. The contract will last for a minimum of 3 years and will have the option to extend for two additional periods of two years, meaning that if you deliver a high-quality service there is every chance you will be able to continue your working relationship with the university for 7 years. This is great evidence of real potential for sustainable growth through public sector procurement.

The contracting authority has placed a whopping weighting of 70% of the tender submission’s score on the Technical Solution proposed by the tenderer, and as professional bid writers this is exactly where we can help you excel and set you apart from your competitors through the written narrative in your tender submission. We can work with you and draw out the necessary technical information and blend this without our understanding of what the authority wants to see and hear to score highly. All you need to worry about is the pricing which is still worth a notable 30% of the overall score.

The deadline for submission is the 13th of December so there is plenty of time available for us to work with you if you want to tackle this submission by yourself. We provide Guide and Review services where we will go through the submission from top to tail to show you our award winning approach to tender submissions and what we would want to see in each response to score as high as possible.

When you engage with us you get the additional benefit of gaining the input from a dedicated team of expert bid writers who work across all industries. We can help add value and innovations to your Technical Solution which can be applied in a cost effective and efficient way which we have learned working with contractors across a range of similar industries and know to produce winning tender submissions.

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

If you would like to express an interest in this tender, click here.

3 More Months of OJEU

3 More Months of OJEU

Well, here we are! In the cold light of November and still very much in Europe. Now this blog isn’t going to be overly political, but as bid writers in the construction industry we have been (and for good reason) concerned as to what precisely is going to happen to the public sector procurement landscape once we left Europe on the 31st of October.

As we all know, public procurement process has for many years been set out by the EU Legal Framework which was implemented using the following regulations:

  • The Public Contracts Regulations 2015
  • The Concession Contracts Regulations 2016
  • The Utilities Contracts Regulations 2016

The Scottish Government implemented the procurement directives separately, via the following regulations:

  • The Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2015
  • The Concession Contracts (Scotland) 2016
  • The Utilities Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2016

Earlier this year in March a Statutory Instrument was introduced to ensure that the framework we have established for procurement, which ensures transparency and fairness, will continue to operate effectively after exit day. This exit day was meant to be last week!

In reality, after D-Day the only real tangible immediate change there was going to be to the tender process would be where our contract notices are published. In the event of a ‘no deal’ scenario our local and central contracting authorities may no longer have access to the EU Publications Office and the online supplement to the Official Journal of the EU (OJEU) dedicated to European public procurement (i.e. Tenders Electronic Daily (TED)). In preparation for this no-deal scenario the government has set up its own e-notification service for tenders called Find a Tender (FTS).

You can find this fabled new site here:

Well you would if we had indeed dropped out last week, allegedly. Currently it simply asks for login details. Its important to note that this was meant to replace the UK supplement to TED; Contracts Finder, along with Public Contracts Scotland, Sell2Wales etc will continue to operate unchanged.

Who knows, maybe the FTS site will go live come February 1st 2020? Will we ever leave and will we leave with a deal? Who knows, all we want to do is get back to writing winning tender submissions. If you are in the construction industry and need some help staying competitive in an ever fierce industry in the face of public uncertainty, you know where we are. We even provide an Opportunity Sourcing service where we help find those pesky tenders so you don’t have to.

The importance of ISO Certification in Facilities Management

The importance of ISO Certification in Facilities Management

In no simpler terms, we believe that if you want to be successful in public sector tendering for facilities management contracts you need to have your ISO certifications in place.

It used to be that ISO certifications could actually be what sets your organisation apart from your competitors and could be leveraged suitably as part of your win theme to help you win places on frameworks or contracts in their own right. Nowadays they are more of a pre-requisite to even be successful at the PQQ/SQ stage of the procurement process.

Its important to note that they are not always ‘must haves’ but if you don’t have them in place the additional hoops you have to jump through can be particularly onerous, and ultimately hugely time consuming. The same can be said for SSIP and the health and safety section of a PAS91-esque questionnaire. Even as professional bid writers, having to complete this section in full if you don’t have the necessary certification (SSIP or ISO45001) is not an enjoyable task – and we love writing tenders!

So what are the ISOs that you need to have to be competitive in the FM public sector? Well there is of course the standard ‘big 3’ which cover your Quality, Environmental and Health and Safety arrangements.

These are:

  • ISO9001:2015 for Quality Management (previously ISO9001:2008)
  • ISO14001:2015 for Environmental Management (previously ISO14001:2004) – see also ISO 14005:2019!
  • ISO45001:2018 for Management of Health and Safety (also as previously stated, you can have other SSIP certifications to help in this area)

But there are others that are becoming more and more prevalent and will help set you apart from other contractors that already have the above SHEQ certifications. Examples of these include 22301 for Business Continuity, and 50001 which is for Energy Management.

Leveraging ISO for PQQ and Tender writing...

Back in days of old, you could buy an ISO cert and management system ‘off the shelf’ and these would have serious clout. Now however, we recommend you get a proper, bespoke integrated management system that truly reflects your FM practises and have it certified to the 9001, 14001, and 45001 standards. If you use this system properly, and as it was designed to do, you will end up with a wealth of information relating to performance and business improvements which in turn will have a massively positive impact on your written tender submission.

Use your ISO certified systems to drive improvement, document it, and use it as evidence of your organisations ability to continually improve quality and achieve efficiencies. This is what authorities want to see in your tender returns and your ISO can still be a key part of a successful procurement process.

We can help you leverage your systems and find the devilish detail we know is needed to score highly when writing a facilities management tender. If you are struggling to score highly then please do contact us today so we can help you be more successful.

Tri Council London Engineering Inspection Services

Tri Council London Engineering Inspection Services

A contract has been put out for re-tender for another five years by three London councils who continue to need engineering and inspection services for their assets and buildings that they either own or manage. The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, and Westminster City Council are looking to leverage economies of scale by continuing to jointly procure these services. The tender is to be divided into three lots, one for each council, however bidders are invited to submit tenders for providing engineering inspection services for buildings either owned or managed by all three authorities.

It is important to note that when bid writing, companies will have to ensure that they can properly evidence their capability to meet the needs of all three authorities for the duration of the contract. This is in addition to the normal quality weightings that are typically attributed to tenders of this nature. Social Value will doubtless be an important element as well as Quality, Environmental and Health and Safety, but it will be interesting to see how these authorities want to see evidence of capabilities and capacities detailed within the submitted tender returns.

The total contract value is worth approximately £1.5million over five years.

Lot 1 for Westminster City Council – is valued at circa £650,000

Lot 2 for London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham – is valued at circa £400,000

Lot 3 for Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea – is valued at circa £450,000

It will not be enough to simply evidence that your company is of a sufficient size to deliver this contract, as independent procurement consultants we believe that evidencing sufficient geographical coverage and proximity may also be an important part of your tender return. There will be an incumbent on this contract already who will be well-placed to retain this contract due to the emphasis they are placing on evidencing ability to cover all three councils.

If you are an organisation who specialises in the provision of engineering inspections of built assets and want to maximise the chances of successfully being awarded this contract for either 1 of these councils, or even all three, we know we will be able to work with you to maximise your chances of contract award. As expert tender and bid managers, we have worked with a range of engineering organisations throughout the UK to help secure key contracts and achieve long-term sustainable growth.

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

If you’re interested in securing this opportunity for your business, click here and we’ll get back to you ASAP.

Commercial Buildings Construction Framework

Commercial Buildings Construction Framework

An interesting opportunity has been published this week by Portsmouth City Council called

“Portsmouth International Port – Commercial Buildings Construction Framework”

In this opportunity Portsmouth have published their intention to build a brand-new cruise terminal at Portsmouth International Port and associated ancillary buildings in Portico. This terminal will be to meet the current and future needs of the port, which is wholly owned by the council.

The council is looking to establish a multi-contractor framework agreement to use as a suitable source for the development of the site, and the agreement will last for an initial 4 years with an option to extend for up to a grand total of 10 years.

This is a design and build framework where contractors will be involved in the initial design process of the new Port, which is proposed to be used exclusively for the cruise market. It will be a steel structure building with piled foundations and multiple floors with a plant room based on a mezzanine. It will include the fit out of specialised terminal equipment such as baggage handling sites, lifts, security etc, and will cover over 20,000square feet and should comfortably cater for 1000 cruise passengers.

Construction bid writers have your pens at the ready, this framework is worth a staggering £50million over the contract term. The initial cruise design and build project is worth between £6-8million, but there are indeed already future plans for once this initial project is complete, and the council recognises the need to be able to quickly adapt and respond to changing customer requirements or business opportunities which would otherwise be lost. This is why the 10-year framework is being implemented. Example future developments may include:

  • Extension of the proposed cruise terminal building,
  • Construction of a refrigerated warehouse at Portico for produce,
  • Border Inspection Post,
  • Port administration offices.

If you are a locally based construction company, you need to make sure you have the necessary bid writing resources at the ready to not only respond to this opportunity to the best of your ability, but also the many potential mini-competitions issued once the framework has been established. If this is an opportunity you simply cannot afford to miss out on, our expert team are always available and at hand to provide you the support you need for successful award.

Deadline looms for Repair and Maintenance SME DPS

Deadline looms for Repair and Maintenance SME DPS

An interesting opportunity was published at the end of September by the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. This council is looking to engage with local SMEs for the provision of both planned and reactive works to all of their council buildings including schools. There are a wealth of different workstreams that this DPS is being split into, including some which fall under the Facilities Management banner.

Example workstreams on this DPS include: multi-works, roofs, drains and drainage systems, general build, heating and boiler systems, groundworks, electrical and lighting equipment, windows, CCTV and monitoring systems, intercom and security equipment, landscaping and horticultural.

This DPS will last for four years and each workstream will be further segregated into planned and reactive packages of work that contractors will have to bid for after becoming a pre-qualified contractor. This is not a recurrent procurement which means that this is a new approach by the council to fulfil their repair and maintenance needs.

As this DPS is being set up in this way, all you must do to become awarded as a pre-qualified contractor is showcase your abilities, qualities, and experience when completing the supplier selection questionnaire. This is a fantastic opportunity for smaller organisations to gain a foothold on the public sector marketplace as you will be able to leverage your local insights, responsiveness and social values specific to this London borough potentially much more than larger national contractors.

Full details of this opportunity can be found here:

If you would like to register your interest in this DPS, the time limit for completing the Supplier Selection Questionnaire is only 2 weeks from now, at 2pm on the 28th of this month. Whilst this is not a long time, if you are wanting to bid for this and need some assistance, we are uniquely positioned to be able to help you.

We have a full team of directly employed experienced bid writers at our disposal meaning we can respond to short notice enquiries like this, without any compromise in the quality of the materials we produce for our clients. Our success rate stands at an industry high of 94% meaning you can be confident in our ability to help you gain a place on this new Dynamic Purchasing System.