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How to build a bid content library

March 5, 2020

A bid content library can reduce your effort by more than 50%

Preparing a tender, bid or proposal response is a time consuming, often high-pressure task involving numerous content contributors – from the core proposal team to subject matter experts from across legal, technical, quality, pricing, and commercial divisions. Having a bid content library accessible and up-to-date takes the pressure of the last minute scramble that can cost you more than time – it can cost you lost opportunities.

Procurement timeframes are being increasingly compressed while documentation has become more complex. Bid and tender questions, along with commercial proposal expectations have evolved from simple yes/no compliance answers and company background and credentials, to being oriented towards process, risk management and problem-solving capability.

There is often the temptation by companies to adopt leaner and meaner processes by cutting and pasting previous tender responses. This rarely produces winning results – in fact it can potentially discredit the strength of the offering and company reputation.

To reduce the time and effort involved in recreating content each time while keeping a tight rein on quality and accuracy of information, content libraries serve a purpose where content is repeatable. However, the winning strategy will need to begin by understanding the client’s needs and how you can solve their problem.

When you have a legacy content library

Poor usage of bid content libraries can often come down to three issues:

1. people aren’t aware that the content exists;

2. they don’t have time to look for it; and

3. there’s too much content to sift through.

Now could be the perfect time to refresh your bid content library assets.

Where to start with your content library – audit what is asked, and what has won

A good predictor of future success is to begin with the past. There are significant benefits in conducting an audit of Request for Tenders relevant to your industry or sector (begin by either going back to your previous tender submissions or jump on to tender sites and start collecting examples).  Doing this will give you a general feel for the types of frequently asked questions so that you can begin to build a content library structure, and prepare best practice baseline content guidelines and answers to establish your ‘tender readiness’.

Focus on the 80% first

Having a library of key messages around your capabilities, service offerings, pricing structure – and even case studies and testimonials – provides a solid base with which to work from with when tailoring one-off proposals and credentials. It can also evolve to become a highly useful knowledge centre where vital company information can be stored, updated and accessed.

Specific policies and procedures are also typical ‘mandatory requirements’ that most government and commercial entities expect of their suppliers.  Given these are frequently asked questions, you should be able to prepare these in advance, freeing you up to spend more time on developing your pitch strategy on future tenders.

As a starting point, examples of generic text or subject areas which are most suited for a content library include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Company overview
  • Management structure
  • Track record and experience
  • Case studies and testimonials
  • CVs and biographies
  • Fees and pricing.
  • Approaches, policies and procedures relating to:
    • Account / relationship management
    • Quality processes
    • Workforce planning
    • Workplace health and safety
    • Social value, environment and sustainability
    • Value added services
    • Product and service innovation.

Once you have your bid content library set up you will save significant time and effort crafting future responses.

Content ownership and stewardship

By appointing someone internally to manage development and maintenance of content, the quality and timeliness of your proposal responses will improve.

Having a content library owner also helps junior or new personnel to become far more empowered and motivated to contribute to a proposal if they have centralised ‘single source of truth’ of information and a ‘go to’ person to get them started.

As your organisation grows and more personnel are involved in the business development process, having a library also gives you greater control over what messages are going out to the external market, thereby greatly reinforcing your company’s core brand values and value proposition.

Reuse and re-purposing is not the same as cut and paste

A word of warning for content library establishment and use. Don’t build a content library with the intention of cutting and pasting information verbatim. For optimum success, information should be relevant to the current opportunity and tailored to the selection criterion, addressing the customers’ needs. Never submit broad ‘motherhood statements’, vague statements or marketing material in a proposal or response. This will rarely pass the ‘so what’ test.

Being “tender ready” means passing the minimum requirements before you even start – ensuring you have content pre-prepared that will enable you to spend maximum time on strategy and tailoring.  Consider having up to date insurance cover, quality processes, key personnel biographies and CVs along with solid evidence of your experience and track record. Then, ensure you set expiry and review dates. This reduces the risk of idle or irrelevant information being used in a response. It also lends credibility to the content and encourages contributors to focus on accessing a central, single source of truth.

 

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